Sexual side effects of finasteride

Finasteride — the popular drug used to treat male pattern baldness and symptomatic benign prostatic hypertrophy — may cause long-term sexual dysfunction, according to a new study. Several recent studies have shown that the drug, which is marketed as 1 mg (Propecia) and 5 mg (Proscar), can cause sexual side effects that persist after stopping the drug in as many as 20% of men. In April, the FDA required new labeling for both strengths regarding libido, ejaculation, orgasm disorders, and even infertility that may persist after treatment ends. The new study looked at 54 men, with an average age of 31, who reported ≥ 3 months of sexual side effects after taking the 1 mg strength for male pattern baldness. All men were previously healthy without previous history of sexual dysfunction, medical conditions, psychiatric conditions, or prescription medication use. After 9-16 months of follow-up, 96% of subjects reported persistent sexual side effects (based on the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale). The duration of finasteride use did not correlate with changes in sexual dysfunction scores. The authors urge prescribers of finasteride to warn men of potential adverse effects (J Sex Med published online July 12, 2012).