Propecia Study Results
Recent Propecia study results have shown that some men have developed permanent Propecia erectile dysfunction side effects. In some cases, the inability to achieve or maintain an erection has lasted for years. Originally, Merck Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of the hair loss pill, warned men only of the risk of developing temporary sexual side effects while using Propecia (generic name finasteride). The side effects, including erectile dysfunction, decreased libido (sex drive), and lower volume of semen, were claimed to disappear once treatment was stopped.
The most recent study by Dr. Michael Irwig titled “Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride: Could They Be Permanent?” concluded: “Men who developed persistent sexual and other side effects lasting for at least 3 months continue to have a high prevalence of sexual dysfunction…”.
A study titled “Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride for Male Pattern Hair Loss” was published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. It showed that signs of sexual dysfunction persisted in some men after use of finasteride was discontinued. At this point, there is no Propecia class action lawsuit in effect in the U.S. However, individual cases have been filed in Washington and Florida. More are expected.
Below, we’ll explain how this hair loss drug is believed to cause long-term erectile dysfunction. We’ll also describe how the condition is diagnosed (its cause is not always obvious), and provide a summary of the methods used to treat it.
Why Does Propecia Cause Impotence In Some Men?
Finasteride, the active agent in Propecia, is known as a 5-alpha reductase (5a-R) inhibitor. 5a-R is a natural enzyme involved in steroid metabolism; it converts testosterone into the male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a more powerful form of testosterone.
The conversion takes place in several areas of the body, including the hair follicles. The presence of DHT causes the follicles to shrink, limiting hair growth. By inhibiting the action of 5a-R, finasteride can prevent testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone. This allows hair to grow thicker and longer.
Since DHT is a potent male sex hormone, preventing its synthesis in the body can lead to erectile dysfunction as well as other sexual side effects. However, it has yet to be discovered why these symptoms persist in some men after the drug is discontinued.
Steps To Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
An inability to achieve an erection may be due to a number of factors in addition to hormonal changes caused by finasteride. Nerve damage, vascular injury, and stress can each play a role. Doctors begin the process of diagnosing the condition by asking the patient questions about past medical conditions, lifestyle habits (e.g. smoking), and how the disorder presents.
Next, a physical exam is conducted. The doctor will note whether the penis is sensitive to touch; a lack of response may imply nerve damage. There may also be signs of limited blood flow, suggesting an issue in the vascular system.
Numerous blood tests are ordered to examine the level of glucose, cholesterol, and various hormones in the patient’s bloodstream. X-rays and ultrasound are performed to look for abnormalities. The patient may also be asked to undergo an overnight erection test. A special tape is wrapped around the penis to determine whether erections occur during sleep. If they do, the cause of the patient’s inability to achieve an erection is considered to be psychological.
Can Permanent Propecia Side Effects Be Treated?
Treatment for ED follows the diagnosis. For example, if the patient is experiencing severe stress, psychotherapy may be an appropriate option. If there are signs of reduced blood flow through the penis, surgical reconstruction may be warranted. If hypertension is an issue, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers may be given to reduce it.
Oral medications, such as Levitra and Viagra, often prove useful, though they merely prolong the duration of erections rather than cause them to occur. By contrast, penile injections and suppositories can trigger erections by delivering the drug alprostadil to the penile tissues.
A penis pump can be used to mechanically draw blood into the penis, thereby encouraging an erection. Another option is to install penile implants. They are surgically placed along the shaft of the penis to inflate on demand, allowing the patient to influence the timing and duration of an erection.
Although there are many treatment options available to address permanent erectile dysfunction, men should never have been forced to seek them. Merck should have warned them about the risk of long-term sexual side effects.
If you have suffered from persistent Propecia and erectile dysfunction, diminished sex drive, or decreased semen production, you may be eligible to file a claim against Merck Pharmaceuticals. Contact a Propecia lawsuit lawyer to discuss your case and for the latest Propecia study side effects news.