RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE OF PERSISTENT FINASTERIDE SIDE EFFECTS
July 2012 - Media Awareness about Dr. Irwig's new 2012 study: Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride: Could They Be Permanent?
The www.mypropeciasideeffects.com website serves the purpose of:
- Documenting and sharing my personal experience with Finasteride (having taken it for hairloss in my mid 20s) and the numerous physical, mental and sexual side effects and changes my body and mind sustained while on, and since discontinuation, of the drug to this day.
- Generating awareness that permanent erectile dysfunction is a possible outcome from using this drug, and CONTRARY to claims by the manufacturer and the FDA that all side effects resolve upon discontinuation, that this has NOT been the case for men like me and a certain unknown percentage of others worldwide..
- Generating awareness about the "Post-Finasteride Syndrome", whereby a subset of men who experience side effects on the drug quit and expect to return to normal shortly thereafter (as claimed by the manufacturer)... but instead find their endocrine system crash within a few weeks time, complete with endogenous Testosterone, LH and FSH levels dropping to actual or near-hypogonadal levels (levels typically associated with old men facing Andropause). Concurrent with this "crash" in androgen levels are permanent sexual, mental and physical side effects which continue to worsen with time.
Why was this site created?
I created this site to document and warn others about how my overall mental/physical/sexual health and quality of life were decimated after taking Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) for cosmetic hairloss purposes, based on assurances by the manufacturer that any side effects experienced would resolve upon discontinuation.
This post-Finasteride condition needs to be investigated further, to better understand the consequences of 5 alpha reductase II inhibition -- especially considering scientists are now recommending men be genotyped for 5AR2 enzyme variants when designing treatment protocols, and the drug's effectiveness depends on an individual's Androgen Receptor CAG repeats, which determines their response to the medication (companies like HairDX are now testing for this).
My Story -- the short version
- I took Finasteride in my mid-20s for hairloss treatment for approximately 1 year. As of 2010, I have been off the drug 5 years, with little to no improvement in many side effects experienced on the drug.
- My hormones: Click to view >
- My story: very similar to that of the author of www.propeciasideeffects.com, those on propeciahelp.com, askapatient.com, and innumerous other websites.
In brief (for the LONG version, click here and read through all the chapters):
Prior to Finasteride I was a healthy, energetic, ambitious, horny and sexually competent male with absolutely no prior health issues, sexual or cognitive dysfunction. Wanting to stop my hairloss like many young men, I decided to obtain a prescription for Proscar (cheaper than Propecia if you quarter it) based on the assurances by the manufacturer and the FDA's Propecia Clinical Trials that side effects only occur in 2% of men, attenuate with time and will resolve with discontinuation. Based on these assurances, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying the drug, and obtained a prescription through my doctor.
Sitting down to watch some porn/masturbate (as was a normal function for a young man), within 3 days of taking it I experienced my first bout of erectile dysfunction (extreme difficulty obtaining & maintaining erection despite manual stimulation) and noticed I could not get turned on as easily as I used to (nothing would happen "in my head") while watching erotic material. As well, my penis began to tingle and feel completely numb, like the nerves in the foreskin and scrotum were dying (the exact tissues 5AR2 is located in, where Finasteride was inhibiting local DHT metabolism). When I ejaculated, instead of shooting with volume and force as it did for 20+ years prior, this time a small quantity of semen weakly oozed out, while my penis remained in a semi-flaccid state.
Stupidly, I thought this was par for the course of adjusting to the drug and so continued taking it, under the impression that things would "improve with time" and that I could always "quit and things will go back to normal", as was advertised by the manufacturer and the FDA. Over the next few weeks I noticed I was no longer getting nocturnal, spontaneous or morning erections anymore but didn't think such things were a big deal at the time (I now know they are critical for maintaining penile health and function, and are often a sign of declining Free Testosterone levels). During the next few months, I began experiencing chronic ED and impotence, a definite lowering of libido, decreased semen volume and force, changes in semen viscosity (became like water), testicular pain, and loss of sensitivity in penis and scrotum (feels like rubber and like touching my arm).
After 6 months, the effects of continued 5AR2 inhibition began to take on deleterious physical and cognitive ramifications which came on slowly and insidiously: gynecomastia, extreme depression, extreme fatigue, a feeling of complete passiveness/living in a disassociative state, poor sleep (loss of REM sleep/no dreams, constant waking), memory impairment, loss of feelings of "pleasure" (ie, dopamine high) from activities, hobbies and music, digestive issues and constipation, extreme moodiness and difficulty focusing on thoughts/processing information. As I approached a year of usage, I began experiencing weight gain (feminine fat deposits - buttocks, stomach, thighs), cognitive impairment, slurring of speech, anxiety and panic attacks, muscle fasciculations and of course the ongoing ED, decreased libido, absent nocturnal/spontaneous/morning erections, genital numbness, ejaculate changes, and increasing gynecomastia.
Finally after almost a year (and despite regrowing some nice thick hair from the medication), I had enough of the side effects and decided to quit use. Fully expecting to go back to normal as the manufacturer claimed, little did I know things were about to get much worse... as within weeks of quitting, my Testosterone, LH and FSH hormone levels crashed to hypogonadal values, the aforementioned side effects increased in severity, and new ones emerged over the coming months/years such as penile/scrotal shrinkage, muscle atrophy and body feminization. Today, more than 5 years later, the numerous side effects which manifested on the medication continue to persist and negatively affect my sexual, mental and physical health, and have severely diminished my quality of life compared to my former able-bodied, hormonally-optimal and healthy Pre-Finasteride self.
Irreversible side effects, disruption of endogeneous Testosterone production, and secondary/tertiary hypogonadism after quitting the drug are hallmarks of the Post-Finasteride Syndrome -- a permanent, debilitating condition I and an unknown number of men continue to suffer from worldwide. Unfortunately, in many cases this syndrome remains resistant to treatments designed to stimulate endogenous Testosterone production (Clomiphene Citrate, hCG), or restore androgenic action/response in the male body (ie, Testosterone Replacement Therapy).
This is further compounded by the fact that most in the medical community remain unaware or dismissive the drug can cause this extremely dangerous post-drug adverse reaction, and thus have no impetus to investigate the root cause of our syndrome in order to find a cure.
The end result is truly a living nightmare for an unknown number of young men in their 20s and 30s, who are now experiencing the ongoing effects of secondary & tertiary hypogonadism/early onset andropause, struggling through each day with numerous persistent symptoms, decreased quality of life and health complications, and often suffering in silence due to lack of medical awareness on this dangerous outcome from using a 5AR inhibitor... all of this, which is the result of undergoing androgen deprivation therapy via Finasteride, for what was simply a cosmetic concern (hair loss) at the time of use.
Lesson learnt -- don't mess with hormones just to try and save some hair
Contrary to what some might think after reading this website, I do believe that Finasteride has a purpose: as androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer, a life-threatening circumstance.
But for a cosmetic issue such as hairloss, no way -- and I say this as a man that has gone through the entire ordeal of facing hairloss myself, and trying to use Finasteride to (successfully) stop it. That said, I recognize that there are many men who take Finasteride for hairloss and claim to do so without issue, so if you are one of them -- kudos to you, and I wish you the best of luck. Unfortunately, the drug affects each individual differently and as a result, some men will (and do) experience side effects from inhibiting 5AR metabolism.
The human body is an incredibly complex and efficient machine, forged by millions of years of evolution. Throwing an endocrine disrupting drug like Finasteride into the mix to stop naturally-occurring, vital bodily functions (ie, 5AR activity/metabolism, Testosterone/DHT metabolism, neurosteroid metabolism etc) can wreak extreme havok on an organism's hormonal profile, 5AR2-dependant tissues, neurosteroid production and a variety of other necessary bodily processes... potentially leading to innumerable health and hormone problems that modern science has no clue how to even diagnose, let alone correct, should things go disastrously wrong from the medication's MANY mechanisms of action (known and unknown).
The 5AR2 enzyme and the most potent male androgen (Dihydrotestosterone -- DHT) were put in men's bodies for a reason, and it wasn't simply to make us go bald -- however, you might be lead to think otherwise, as the manufacturer labels and markets DHT as just some nuisance "substance in the body" which causes hair loss. In my opinion, this statement downplays the true risks of androgen (DHT) deprivation therapy to consumers, while failing to disclose the other vital functions 5AR2 and DHT exert in the human body. For example:
- From 2006's "A new look at the 5alpha-reductase inhibitor finasteride":
- From the Introduction of "Cloning and Characterization of the 5α-Reductase Type 2 Promoter in the Rat Epididymis":
Lesson learnt -- vanity-related insecurities are just that: insecurities
Looking back, I have come to realize just how much FEAR (in this case, fear of going bald) can affect someone's emotions, such that they turn a blind eye to logic. Much as this man has posted, hindsight has provided me extreme clarity about my delusional mental state at the time regarding hair loss fears, such that I was willing to risk everything -- male health, sexuality, mental and physical function -- by taking an endocrine disrupting drug for the sake of vanity.
Unsurprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry recognizes and plays this to their advantage: they pander to and advertises to us -- a male demographic at our weakest, most frail and susceptible mental state -- by dangling offers of "near side-effect free" treatments as a proverbial "carrot on a stick" solution to our hair loss concerns... all the while downplaying the potential serious risks of 5ARI-induced androgen deprivation therapy in prescribing materials and advertising:
Having gone through the experience of buying into the pharmaceutical industry's key messages, side effect claims and assurances at the time, I now understand inhibiting natural bodily processes and altering my hormonal profile for cosmetic purposes was a completely senseless act, one which can (and did) have disastrous consequences.
Combined, these fears and insecurities -- about losing my looks, society's views on baldness, not being as attractive to women -- led me to a decision to take the drug and put my faith, health and quality of life in the FDA & drug manufacturer's hands... a decision based on their assurances that only 2% of men may get side effects, that all side effects resolve after quitting, and sanitized statements which do not disclose the drug's many other mechanisms of action, and broad consequences of 5AR inhibition.
Yes, over the course of usage the drug worked (extremely well) at stopping my hairloss -- but the massive tradeoff in terms of side effects was simply not worth it in the end. Having gone through this experience really put things into perspective for me about what's important in life: health, well-being, feeling and functioning like a fully sexually virile, mentally clear and physically able-bodied MALE... or being a neutered, androgen deficient, weak and cognitively-impaired, gynecomastia/male breast cancer-prone, hairloss-fearing and insecure person who takes an endocrine damaging drug at any cost, just to hold onto a few hairs on one's head.
If there's a lesson in all this, it's that I should not have been so vain, by believing the drug manufacturer's safety claims in my attempts to try and stop a natural bodily process (vs. altering my hormones and essentially chemically castrating myself, my prostate and 5AR2/DHT dependant organs and tissues). I can only hope sharing my experience will serve as a warning to other young men considering the same treatment route, about what can potentially go wrong from using this systemic, endocrine-disrupting and androgen-depriving drug for an emotionally-driven, vanity-related purpose.
Even though nobody knows how often, who is suceptible, or why it occurs -- if I can save others from possibly experiencing the Post-Finasteride Syndrome and suffering the same ill fate, compromised state and daily living nightmare many men like myself have been left in -- then perhaps my entire sad ordeal and experience will have served some useful purpose, and my life will not have gone to waste.
A warning to those currently on, or considering taking Finasteride for hairloss
Please heed my words:
If you are using or considering this drug for cosmetic (hairloss) purposes, be aware that there are NO GUARANTEES with drugs that affect or disrupt the endocrine system, that things will return to normal after discontinuation -- especially drugs that instill a state of surrogate 5AR2 deficiency, and tranform your hormonal profile to match that of a genetically 5AR2-deficient pseudohermaphrodite -- regardless of what the manufacturer or the FDA may claim.
As the following authors note, the mechanism by which this drug can alter human sexual behaviour is currently unknown. That said, if you are one of the unlucky men who ends up getting side effects from Finasteride's 5AR2 inhibition, they either:
- WILL resolve after discontinuation, or
- Will NOT resolve after discontinuation
That's all it really boils down to, 50/50.
Nobody knows the absolute true risk for adverse reactions in certain men vs. others, how or why Finasteride causes these side effects, how many men may be susceptible to such adverse reactions, or more crucially why an unknown subset/percentage of Finasteride-using men experience persistent side effects and hypogonadal drop in Testosterone/LH/FSH levels post-drug (The Post-Propecia Syndrome).
My guess is it's probably a genetic predisposition based on each individual's genetic makeup/hormonal profile which determines how they will respond to the drug, especially considering (as mentioned previously) scientists are now recommending men be genotyped for 5AR2 enzyme variants when designing 5AR inhibitor treatment protocols, and the drug's effectiveness depends on an individual's Androgen Receptor CAG repeats. Based on these facts, it is also highly plausible that your BODY, hormonal profile and genetics will play a role in determining wether you recover from any side effects experienced, AFTER QUITTING. In other words, YOU have NO CONTROL or influence over the outcome from usage/resolution of side effects -- your BODY does. Unfortunately, there is no test that exists that would pre-diagnose wether you fall into the camp of men who are susceptible to side effects from the medication, based on your genetic profile.
Additionally, considering many ex-Finasteride users have wound up with low/below range levels of "3a-diol-G" (3a-diol-G is a direct metabolite of DHT and diagnostic marker for 5AR2 enzyme activity, low levels of which correlate with the genetic syndrome of 5AR2 deficiency and androgen insensitivity), there is speculation by such men that we may have acquired a novel form of permanent Finasteride-induced 5AR2 deficiency/mutation/gene expression changes, or acquired androgen insensitivity/resistance due to androgen receptor dysfunction, downregulation or altered gene expression. While nobody knows for sure (research is required), it is speculated that either of these conditions could be playing a causitive role in the Post-Finasteride Syndrome, by preventing Testosterone & DHT from exerting their androgenic effects post-drug.
Knowing this, my advice would be to err on the side of caution and NOT play russian roulette with your health by interfering with 5AR2, Testosterone & DHT metabolism. I would sincerely advise you NOT to take this endocrine disrupting drug, remain a fully competent and virile male, and seek alternative treatments (ie, hair transplant) for what is ultimately a cosmetic/emotional concern about losing hair.