The healthy 22 year-old who noticed his testicles mysteriously shrinking. The 23 year-old with sudden onset erectile dysfunction that subsequently ruined his relationship. And another 20-something man who suffered agonizing pain in his genitals. 

These men share one thing in common: they, like 2million Americans, have taken the hair loss drug finasteride in an effort to restore their balding locks.

In letters sent to DailyMail.com, men from around the world have described devasting effects that the drug, though effective at reversing hair loss, have had on their libido and ability to perform in the bedroom. 

The swarm of emails comes on the heels of DailyMail.com’s recent report about long-lasting sexual side effects in men and women who have taken antidepressant medications such as Zoloft and Effexor. 

Sumair Ahluwalia of Illinois says after starting finasteride he has developed genital atrophy, low libido, brain fog, slowed beard growth, muscle loss, and more

Sumair Ahluwalia of Illinois says after starting finasteride he has developed genital atrophy, low libido, brain fog, slowed beard growth, muscle loss, and more

These patients described losing their libido entirely — a symptoms that didn’t resolve even years after they stopped taking the medicine.

The upsetting side effects of finasteride include infertility, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, decreased volume of ejaculation, and a loss of sensation below the belt.

Finasteride is a prescription medicine that stops hair loss by blocking the production of a chemical called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is responsible for male balding.

It is sold by men’s health companies online such as Hims for as little as $22 for a month’s supply and is available in a pill or topical form. 

The typical dose taken is one milligram. But some customers say that even at that low dose, they’ve suffeered sexual side effects that have affected their personal lives and relationships.

Sumair Ahluwalia, 22, of Illinois says he has been injured by the topical version drug, perhaps permanently.

He told DailyMail.com that he was prescribed the drug through the online prescribing platform Hims, and his symptoms began just two days into his prescription.

‘At first I experienced a burning pain in my genitals,’ he said. ‘But I have since developed genital atrophy, low libido, brain fog, slowed beard growth, muscle loss, muscle twitching, jaw recession, and more.’

 When he stopped the drug, the burning stopped. But he later noticed sexual apathy, ‘almost like that part of my brain has been ripped out.’

Evidence to back up anecdotal reports is mixed, but several studies have shown that the drug can also effect fertility

Evidence to back up anecdotal reports is mixed, but several studies have shown that the drug can also effect fertility

@hair.transplant.advice

Replying to @SoswiffStudio MY EXPERIENCE OF TAKING FINASTERIDE. Finasteride, a medication renowned for combating male pattern baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which plays a key role in hair loss. This oral treatment, available in tablet form, has gained popularity as an effective solution to slow hair thinning and promote regrowth. However, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects and consult a healthcare professional before starting finasteride. Finasteride, may lead to side effects, but their occurrence varies in frequency. The most reported side effects include reduced libido, sexual difficulties, breast tenderness, mood changes, and rare allergic reactions. It’s important to remember that not everyone experiences these effects. Many users tolerate finasteride well without significant issues. However, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider before use to discuss potential risks and benefits. Monitor for unusual effects and seek prompt medical advice if needed #hairloss #malepatternbaldness #hairlossremedy #hairlosssolutions

♬ original sound – The Hair Transplant Specialist

Meanwhile, a young man named Erik, 23, who lives in Sweden, started taking the drug in October 2022 after type 1 diabetes caused his hair to fall out.

He said: ‘[The doctor] discussed nothing about any side effects at all and said its a very safe drug… I was not concerned at all since I asked my doc about sides and he said there were no sides to think about.’

The following May he began experiencing brain fog and erectile dysfunction.

He said: ‘The problems got worse and worse in the months after that and I asked my doc and his response was to up the dose to five milligrams per day which I declined but trusted him that there was not the drug causing the issues.’

He stopped taking it in October 2023 when he heard a friend had a similar issue, but at that point, he had begun showing neurological abnormalities.

Erik added: ‘My doctor has since found neurologic issues, lesions in my brain, inflammation in eyes, gut and sinus, which he thinks is because my body reacted to finasteride and is in a panic state after quitting the drug.

‘The drug has shown good effect on hair loss but the downsides are so under reported its insane.’

The pictured 37-year-old hair transplant specialist said after taking finasteride for four years, he has had lower libido and trouble attaining a full erection

The pictured 37-year-old hair transplant specialist said after taking finasteride for four years, he has had lower libido and trouble attaining a full erection

Several men wrote to DailyMail.com anonymously. One person said the drug had a profound affect on his sex life both times he took it.

He said: ‘The first time I took fin [sic], it took about 18 months before I had any erection issues. I could always get an erection, but it was about 75-80 percent as strong… I got freaked out and stopped fin and within three months things were back to normal.

‘I started back on fin late last year to see if things would be the same, and they were.  

He added: ‘During the time I had sex while on oral fin, the sex itself was noticeably worse. I could always manage to finish, but I might have to take a break for a bit.’

Another 37-year-old man from Turkey said after taking finasteride for four years, he has had lower libido and trouble attaining a full erection.

He said: ‘Wood isn’t as strong as it used to be. 

Oddly, Jose Alferez, a personal trainer, said he initially experienced an increase in his libido about a month after starting finasteride. 

He said: ‘It wasn’t until four months in  that I started experiencing the side effects of low libido.’

‘My doctor pretty much yold me you have to choose between your hair and your gonads.’

GOT A HEALTH-RELATED STORY? 

In 2017, the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen filed a suit on behalf of patients requesting that the FDA add a warning to the drug about sexual side effects or remove it from the market.

So far, a ruling has not been issued, and the drug remains available.

Scientific evidence to back up the legitimacy of men’s claims is mixed.

 Some experts believe erectile issues could be linked to other drugs they may be taking, such as antidepressants, or  could be tied to an untreated mental health issue.

Still, a 2011 report in the journal Sexual Medicine found that ‘prolonged adverse effects on sexual function such as erectile dysfunction and diminished libido are reported by a subset of men, raising the possibility of a causal relationship.’

Another report, this time in the journal Fertility and Sterility, said: ‘Finasteride, even at low doses, may cause reduced sperm counts in some men. In this population, counts improved dramatically for the majority of men after finasteride discontinuation.’

The safety of the drug is uncertain and needs more thorough research and documentation. 

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