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Does Finasteride Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on March 20, 2024

Finasteride is one of the most common forms of treatment that is given to 85% of men who experience hair loss by the age of 50 [1].

Despite Finasteride being an effective treatment that, over the course of numerous clinical trials, has proved its efficacy at treating male pattern baldness, it does also come with some potential side effects.

These side effects are usually very rare and only occur in a small percentage of men who are taking the drug. However, it can be a cause of concern for patients – especially when some of these side effects are linked to erectile dysfunction.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the likelihood of developing erectile dysfunction from taking Finasteride, and if there’s anything you can do to prevent these side effects from occurring.

Table of Contents
A box of 1 mg Finasteride used to treat male pattern baldness

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a drug that is given to men suffering from hair loss. It works by decreasing the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body, which is a hormone that comes from testosterone and is thought to be one of the main reasons why men experience male pattern hair loss.

Chemical structure of testosterone and how Finasteride works to reduce DHT in the body

The daily oral tablet is most commonly found under the brand names Proscar (used to treat an enlarged prostate) and Propecia (used to treat male pattern baldness), but there are also off-brand versions that can be prescribed to you.

Can Finasteride cause erectile dysfunction?

Side effects from taking Finasteride are rare but can put people off wanting to take the drug. Numerous studies have looked into the different side effects that Finasteride patients can expect to experience, and the majority of these studies have found that side effects are not very common at all.

In fact, on average only 2.1-3.8% of Finasteride users are expected to have any side effects [2]. So, if you are concerned about potential erectile dysfunction or impotence, you don’t need to be so worried.

In one study from 2010 [3] where a group of men were given daily Finasteride tablets for hair loss, only 2.2% of these users experienced an increase in erectile dysfunction compared to a placebo tablet.

So, although in some cases Finasteride can cause erectile dysfunction, it only affects a very small number of people.

Some studies have even gone on to suggest that the sexual dysfunction side effects that some patients experience while taking Finasteride are no more than a nocebo effect [4]. This means that if patients are more aware of the different sexual side effects of Finasteride, they will also be more likely to experience them.

In the study, 30.9% of the group who had been told about the potential for erectile dysfunction experienced the side effect, compared to only 9.6% of subjects in the group who were never told about this potential side effect.

It’s also important to remember that, in most cases, the side effects of Finasteride are not permanent and will usually disappear once you stop taking the medicine. So, even if you do start to experience erectile dysfunction while taking the drug if you stop taking it, your symptoms will go away.

couple in bed

Why does Finasteride cause sexual side effects?

Sexual side effects can be a big cause for concern amongst men who are trying to reverse hair loss, so it’s important to know what the cause of these issues is.

It all comes down to how Finasteride interacts with DHT. Finasteride reduces the amount of DHT in the body, but it can also cause more testosterone to be converted into estradiol, which is a female sex hormone [5]. It’s when too much estradiol is created that men may start to experience sexual problems.

Finasteride should be avoided if you’re trying to conceive a baby.

Finasteride erectile dysfunction recovery

If you have been experiencing erectile dysfunction, there are a few different options that you can go down for recovery.

1. Keep taking Finasteride and wait

Your first option will be to continue to take Finasteride as normal and see whether, over time, your side effects start to disappear.

2. Reduce your dosage

If you’re concerned about side effects, you could talk to your doctor about reducing your dose of Finasteride. However, if you do take this route you may not experience the same Finasteride results.

3. Try taking erectile dysfunction medication

Finally, there are many different types of erectile dysfunction medication that can help men overcome difficulties in getting an erection.

If you do choose this, we recommend consulting a health professional first to ensure you won’t experience any more side effects from mixing erectile dysfunction medication with Finasteride.

Learn more about if you can take Viagra and Finasteride together.

What are the other side effects of using Finasteride?

Although erectile dysfunction is one of the main side effects of Finasteride, there are a few more that you should be aware of, including:

  • Decreased sex drive, affecting 1.8% of men [6]
  • Testicular discomfort
  • Skin rashes
  • Lumps or pain around the breast area (inform your doctor if you experience these symptoms along with nipple discharge as they could be a sign of male breast cancer)
  • Finasteride-related gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men)
  • Hair shedding (this is a temporary side effect that usually happens when you start treatment)
  • Post-Finasteride syndrome (a condition causing depression, brain fog, and persistent erectile dysfunction even after medication is stopped)

While finasteride is not available on the NHS to treat hair loss, you are eligible to get treatment for any side effects caused by the drug from your local GP.

Alternatives to taking Finasteride

If you are worried about the side effects or want something that will provide a more permanent solution to your hair loss, there are a few alternatives to Finasteride.

You can find other prescription drugs, like Dutasteride, or you can choose to use a topical treatment, like Minoxidil.

Dutasteride works in a similar way to Finasteride, by blocking DHT, so if you want to reduce the chances of sexual side effects, topical treatments like Minoxidil may be your best option as they don’t affect your hormones.

Besides medication, what else could I do to restore my lost hair?

If you’d like a more permanent solution, you could also think about getting an FUE hair transplant (Follicular Unit Extraction) with us at Wimpole Clinic. We’re experts at performing both FUE transplants and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantations) that provide patients with long-lasting, natural-looking hair growth.

If you’d like to find out more about hair transplants and how the process at Wimpole Clinic works, get in touch with us today.

Does Finasteride Cause Erectile Dysfunction?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on March 20, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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