Genetic hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) can be a very distressing condition, especially for young people. Many men benefit from taking Finasteride 1 mg daily for this condition. This medication was approved by the FDA in 1997. It was known from the original study that a small number of men experience sexual dysfunction that generally clears after stopping the drug. The most recent FDA label notes sexual dysfunction including decreased libido (1.8%) and erectile dysfunction (1.3%), and also mentions depression as a side effect observed during the post-marketing period. In Canada and some European countries, the labeling is stronger – stating decreased libido that may persist after discontinuation of the drug, and mood alterations including depression and suicidal ideation. It appears that the risk of persistent side effects is real but very uncommon and there might be an increased risk in people with certain psychiatric conditions. Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a way to predict or identify who’s at risk for persistent side effects. The Post-Finasteride Syndrome Foundation (PFSF) recently filed a citizen’s petition with the FDA to take the medication off the market or add stronger warnings to the label.
If you’re taking Finasteride and have questions about the medication or would like to discuss options for treating hair loss, please schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.