Minoxidil is one of the most used hair loss treatments globally. Three-quarters of hair loss specialists recommend topical Minoxidil to their patients, with more than half recommending it often or always .
But you might be reluctant to follow this advice if you’re worried about the risk of Minoxidil’s sexual side effects.
In this article, you’ll learn whether there are any Minoxidil side effects sexually, which other side effects you can expect, and whether Minoxidil is the right treatment choice for your hair loss.
Minoxidil is a hair loss treatment that comes in two forms: topical Minoxidil and oral Minoxidil.
Topical Minoxidil is more widely used than oral Minoxidil. Both are vasodilators: they widen the blood vessels so more nutrients and oxygen can reach the hair follicles.
While topical Minoxidil only affects the blood vessels in the area it’s applied (i.e. the scalp), oral Minoxidil can affect blood vessels throughout the body. So it may cause more significant side effects — but are any of these side effects related to sexual function?
Before and after 6 months of 5% Minoxidil application in a patient with female pattern hair loss.
Minoxidil isn’t generally linked with sexual side effects, though there have been a few reported cases. One review reported the following number of cases out of a total of 92 male patients :
These results are higher than those reported by other researchers, so there’s still some uncertainty around the true prevalence of Minoxidil sexual side effects. However, even if these results are accurate, they indicate that it’s very unlikely that you’ll experience sexual side effects when using Minoxidil.
There are no reported sexual side effects among female Minoxidil users, though a small percentage (1.01%) have reported irregular periods following Minoxidil use .
Some people worry about the sexual side effects of Minoxidil because there are links between sexual side effects and another first-line hair loss treatment, Finasteride.
But unlike Minoxidil, Finasteride works on a hormonal level, which means it’s more likely to cause sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction. Even though findings differ on the prevalence of sexual side effects of Minoxidil, researchers generally agree that Minoxidil is safer than Finasteride.
Unlike Finasteride, Minoxidil doesn’t affect your hormones. While some research suggests it interacts with the androgen receptors in your hair follicles, it doesn’t actually change your hormone levels . So it’s much less likely to cause sexual side effects.
Erectile dysfunction is the most commonly reported sexual side effect associated with Minoxidil use. But in general, Minoxidil is still very unlikely to cause erectile problems.
There have been four reported cases linking Minoxidil with erectile dysfunction. In one case report, stopping Minoxidil use reversed this sexual side effect .
Minoxidil doesn’t affect your testosterone levels to a significant degree. This is another key difference between Minoxidil and Finasteride, as Finasteride can increase testosterone levels by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Some studies have found a tentative link between Minoxidil and the metabolism of testosterone . It may stimulate the conversion of testosterone to other androgens, though more research is needed to establish this link.
There’s limited evidence exploring the link between Minoxidil use and sperm count, particularly topical Minoxidil.
One research paper suggests high doses of oral Minoxidil may lead to conception issues . But oral Minoxidil is only rarely used to treat hair loss, especially in high doses, so this is an unlikely scenario for hair loss patients.
If you’re using Minoxidil and you experience any of the following, speak to your doctor or prescription provider:
Your GP can help you determine whether Minoxidil is causing these issues, or if there’s another underlying cause. If Minoxidil is found to be the cause, stopping treatment should reverse the symptoms.
While sexual side effects are rare among Minoxidil users, there are some side effects to be aware of. Minoxidil side effects include:
Still worried about the side effects of Minoxidil, sexually or otherwise? Here are some Minoxidil alternatives for hair growth:
Bear in mind that these treatments may have side effects of their own, so always check the possible risks and safety issues before taking Minoxidil alternatives.
If you’re worried about sexual side effects, topical Minoxidil is one of the best hair loss treatment options. It’s less likely to cause sexual dysfunction than systemic treatments like Finasteride and Dutasteride.
It’s also well tolerated by both men and women and has been proven to work for many types of hair loss. It’s often tricky to determine what causes female hair loss, which is why we offer the best female hair loss treatment service designed to get to the bottom of your hair loss. Minoxidil is available over-the-counter, so it’s a good first-line treatment option and often forms part of our bespoke treatment plans.
However, Minoxidil is less likely to be effective if you have extensive hair loss. In this case, it’s a good idea to consult with a hair loss specialist who can help you find the right treatment.
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