Why finasteride can cause erectile dysfunction
Androgenic alopecia is a hair loss condition that may affect a majority of men during their lifetime. In fact, statistics show that up to seventy percent has a chance of contracting male pattern baldness. It usually begins during their thirties and sometimes even earlier. The temporal areas are the first to recede followed by the frontal region just above the forehead. There might be some diffuse thinning in these sections before the vertex region begins to manifest hair loss as well. It will start exposing more of the scalp in a widening circular fashion. After a certain amount of time, these regions will meet resembling a horseshoe type pattern. Only the lower sides and back of the scalp will have hair.
Men have long sought to avoid this final outcome. Often they have tried to use different products and services to try to address their alopecia. Some even use laser hair combs in the hope of stimulating their hair follicles. Others are satisfied with the use of anti hair loss shampoo. Both however only provide minimal results that do not really resolve the situation.
Finasteride is one such product that has been able to give clear results when treating male pattern baldness. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration making it one of only two drugs that enjoy its backing. This medication is classified as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, helping prevent the formation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
A brief background on how male pattern occurs might be appropriate before proceeding further. It begins when testosterone and the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase unite to form DHT. This more potent hormone in turn, binds with the androgen receptors of the hair follicles due to its attraction to the latter. It then creates a barrier to nutrients the hair follicles receive from the blood supply causing it to shrink gradually until it becomes dormant. The hair strands slowly lose circumference and length while this process takes place, eventually becoming wispy until it disappears entirely.
By taking finasteride, the body is able to produce less DHT because it is prevented from being formed in the first place. The 5-alpha-reductase enzyme is inhibited from fusing with testosterone. Hair is even seen to regrow after a period of three months though it is suggested to wait until after a year to fully confirm its effectiveness. Finasteride should be taken continuously otherwise the scalp will regress to the state that it should have been had medication not begun.
Studies have been made that indicate the occurrence of side effects with the use of finasteride. Among these are erectile dysfunction, decreased libido and a low sperm count. These adverse reactions are known to persist despite discontinuing the use of this medication.
Testosterone is one of the foremost androgens that increase the libido. Other sensory stimuli can influence this as well and is tied to the parasympathetic nervous system. DHT on the other hand is not seen as a factor necessary for a penile erection. A controlled test performed among men taking finasteride resulted in erectile dysfunction of 0.8 to 15.8 percent tested. There was however, no clearly established link between the use of the medication and the loss of sexual drive. If anything, those groups tested who were informed of the potential of erectile dysfunction occurring while taking the drug actually had an increased incidence. Some doctors subscribe this side effect to the natural way the condition affects the population. The reason why erectile dysfunction happens can so far be attributed to how it is normally prevalent as a man ages and not through the use of finasteride. More research however should be made for get an established confirmatory report on the matter.
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