Baldness Drug Risks Men’s Sexual Health

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by Joseph Mercola

Recently by Joseph Mercola: Why 80% of U.S. Dentists Are 150 Years BEHIND theTimes…

     

Men could be risking their sexual health by taking the common anti-baldness drug Propecia (finasteride). Experts say the drug can cause serious side effects and isn’t adequately labeled.

Merck, the manufacturer of the drug, mentions problems on its Web site such as difficulty achieving an erection, but also says the problems will go away for men who stop taking the drug. However, many doctors say that complete impotence is not unusual even among men who have stopped taking the drug.

According to BBC News:

“Merck says they continually monitor its safety and have recently changed the labeling after reports of sexual side effects continuing after people had stopped taking the drug. They also claim those cases … could be caused by something other than Propecia itself.”

Source: BBC News December 21, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Propecia (finasteride) has been heavily promoted directly to American men in TV commercials and male-oriented magazines. Its promise is an alluring one: “Helping make hair loss history.”

Propecia claims that nine out of 10 men with mild to moderate male pattern hair loss on the top or middle front of their head will experience visible results. The drug works by reducing DHT, the most potent male hormone that is linked to shrinking hair, by blocking the enzyme 5 alpha reductase.

But behind the images of impressive results showing men’s baldness practically disappearing is a disturbing side effect that is barely talked about despite the drug’s popularity: impotence.

Propecia May Destroy Your Sex Life

BBC News followed one story of a 26-year-old who took Propecia for male pattern baldness. He stopped taking the drug when he noticed a decreased interest in sex, then a few weeks later became impotent. Even after six months of testosterone therapy his sexual health had not been restored, and his physician suggested a penile implant as a solution.

The drug’s Web site lists sexual side effects as a possibility but downplays their severity, stating:

“A small number of men had sexual side effects, with each occurring in less than 2% of men. These include less desire for sex, difficulty in achieving an erection, and a decrease in the amount of semen. These side effects went away in men who stopped taking Propecia because of them.”

However, many men have found that the sexual side effects do NOT go away once the drug is stopped. The problem is so common that a Web site, PropceiaHelp.com, was formed for men with persistent sexual, mental and physical side effects that have continued despite their having stopped taking the drug.

“Post-Finasteride Syndrome” More Common than Previously Recognized

There are currently over 1,000 members on PropeciaHelp.com, many of whom believe they suffer from Post-Finasteride Syndrome, a condition of permanent sexual, mental and physical side effects that do not resolve after quitting the drug, and most often are accompanied by an acquired form of secondary hypogonadism (when the sex glands produce little or no hormones).

As their Web site states:

“Most in the medical community are unaware of this possibility, dismiss such claims, or do not care to investigate further as to how or why this irreversible 5AR inhibitor is leaving some men with a post-drug endocrine system crash, loss of androgenic action in the male body, and a common set of hypogonadal symptoms

… or why after quitting, those with permanent issues often find their Testosterone, LH & FSH hormone levels drop through the floor (levels typically only seen during male Andropause in old age, amongst other hormonal imbalances), and acquire an extremely difficult to treat form of secondary hypogonadism.

To date there has been no clinical or medical research into this serious adverse post-drug reaction.

For those already suffering, what is ultimately required is a clinical, controlled study in the lab comparing us to those who never took the drug, to ascertain the root cause of our condition, why our bodies seem to no longer respond to androgens correctly in many cases, and why we continue to experience hypogonadal symptoms and irreversible side effects… with the ultimate goal of finding a cure to reverse this nightmarish syndrome, once and for all.”

So for men, taking Propecia may very well lead to permanent damage to your sexual health, and no one knows who will be impacted, whether or not it will be permanent, or why.

And as for women, the drug can also have a devastating effect on a developing baby’s sex organs, so much so that Merck, the drug’s maker, warns women who are or may become pregnant to not even handle broken tablets:

“Women who are or may potentially be pregnant must not use Propecia and should not handle crushed or broken Propecia tablets because the active ingredient may cause abnormalities of a male baby’s sex organs.”

If You Have Male Pattern Baldness, Make Sure You’re Doing This …

The conventional medical dogma says that male pattern baldness is a genetic condition and there is not much you can do to alter it – but I don’t believe that for a moment. While it is clear genetics are involved, the expression of your genetic predisposition (in other words, whether or not you actually lose your hair) is largely environmentally induced.

So what does this mean for male pattern baldness?

There is strong evidence that early male-pattern baldness could be a clinical marker of insulin resistance, a condition in which you lose your sensitivity to insulin, resulting in excess blood sugar.

As I’ve explained in numerous articles, insulin resistance is the root cause of most chronic disease, and maintaining proper insulin regulation is a primary factor of good health.

In a nutshell, you do that by:

  1. Exercising regularly
  2. Avoiding sugar/fructose and grains (including organic whole grains as they too will quickly convert to sugar in your body and lead to insulin resistance)

I truly believe that had I known this information 20 years ago, I would still have a full head of hair. Unfortunately, for many years I was a certified carb addict and consumed an excess of high-grain foods – which are a disaster for my protein nutritional type.

So, guys, if you’re experiencing hair loss or are worried that you might, cut down or eliminate the grains and sugars from your diet. Even better, find out your nutritional type and begin eating the foods that best support it, as this will give you optimal nourishment for your hair growth and your entire body.

Are There Any Natural Treatments for Impotency?

If you’re suffering sexual side effects like impotency from Propecia or any other cause, there are some natural remedies you can try.

Herbs like Panax ginseng and Maca root have been used for centuries as libido-boosting tonics. And the amino acid L-arginine has a beneficial influence on blood vessel health, which indirectly can benefit erectile dysfunction by improving cardiovascular function.

L-arginine appears to help with erectile dysfunction by enhancing the action of nitric oxide, which in turn helps relax your blood vessels, including those supplying blood to your penis. As blood vessels in your penis dilate, it increases blood flow, which helps maintain an erection. (This is also how drugs like Viagra work.)

Of course, L-arginine is not a magic potion that will “cure” impotency overnight; some studies have found its effectiveness alone is on par with a placebo. But several studies have concluded that L-arginine in combination with other herbs is a remarkably effective treatment for mild to moderate ED.

In men, L-arginine combined with pycnogenol (a plant extract from the bark of a French maritime pine tree) provided “significant improvement in sexual function in men with ED without any side effects,” according to the researchers of one study.

And the combination of 6 grams of L-arginine with 6 mg yohimbine was found to be “a promising addition to first-line therapy for ED,” according to a pilot study published in the journal European Urology.

Other supplements that could be worthwhile are choline and vitamin B5.

The neurotransmitter that triggers sexual messages in your brain, whether you’re male or female, is acetylcholine (ACH). With too little ACH, sexual activity goes down. One way to safely and effectively enhance your ACH levels is to take choline supplements (1,000-3,000 mg) and vitamin B5 (500-1,500 mg).

You will also want to be sure your overall lifestyle is a healthy one, as the habits below will further help to enhance your sexual health:

  • Follow a proper diet
  • Engage in adequate physical activity
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep
  • Avoid medications, many of which can cause or exacerbate impotence
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking

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