Anti-Balding Rx Doesn’t Mix With Alcohol

Alcohol intake reduced and sexual side effects found in men taking finasteride

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A male pattern baldness medication has been known to come with a few side effects. No longer wanting to drink, or being able to enjoy a drink, may be added to the list.

Recently, a doctor interviewed a group of men about any side effects they had experienced from a common male pattern baldness medication.

The results of the study found that sexual side effects and a reduced desire to drink alcohol were common.

"Learn about potential side effects for the meds you take."

Michael S. Irwig, MD, assistant professor of medicine at The George Washington University, investigated side effects in men taking the hair loss prevention medication, finasteride, brand name Propecia.

Previous studies have shown that finasteride reduced the desire for alcohol in mice.

Finasteride blocks the hormone testosterone from converting into another hormone that has been associated with male pattern baldness. But by blocking hormone conversion, taking finasteride runs the risk of interfering with other bodily functions.

People taking finasteride commonly report sexual side effects, such as low sex drive and erectile dysfunction, as well as depression.

Dr. Irwig interviewed 83 otherwise healthy men who had been taking finasteride for male pattern baldness. All of the men were still experiencing sexual side effects at the time of the interview even though they had stopped taking finasteride at least 3 months prior.

Of the 83 men in the study, 63 reported that prior to taking finasteride they typically consumed at least one alcoholic beverage per week.

Among the men that had consumed alcohol weekly, 65 percent said that their alcohol consumption dropped after starting finasteride. A total of 32 percent said their alcohol consumption remained the same and 3 percent said they consumed more alcohol than prior to taking finasteride.

The 41 men who reported drinking less after taking finasteride said they used to drink roughly 5 drinks per week before taking finasteride, which dropped to roughly 2 drinks per week after taking finasteride.

There were eight men that said they used to consume at least 10 drinks per week before finasteride but, after taking finasteride, they experienced side effects, such as anxiety, tiredness and dizziness, when they consumed alcohol.

Some men reported that they “...lost the sense of euphoria and relaxation previously associated with alcohol.” The men also reported that, after taking finasteride, it took longer to recover from the effects of drinking alcohol the night before.

Of the 63 men who drank, 18 said they had given up drinking alcohol completely.

“Further research is needed on the central nervous system effects of finasteride in adult men,” wrote Dr. Irwig.

This study was published in June in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

No outside funding sources were used. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 12, 2013
Last Updated:
August 7, 2013