Q. I am considering taking Propecia for male-pattern baldness. Besides the figures the company supplies, can you refer me to any independent information regarding its effect on a man’s erection and urge to have sex?

A. Propecia is the trade name for finasteride. Finasteride was designed for treating enlarged prostates. It works by blocking an enzyme responsible for changing testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High levels of DHT can be bad because the substance promotes cell growth in the prostate. If we decrease the production of DHT, the prostate shrinks.

The formulation of finasteride used to treat the prostate comes in 5mg dosages and is called Proscar. At that dose, 5 percent of men will complain of erectile dysfunction or change in sex drive. However, these symptoms are reversible; if the man stops taking the medication, he should return to his normal status.

Propecia, on the other hand, is dispensed as a 2.5mg dose. At that dose it is supposed to have fewer sexual dysfunction side effects. If you develop difficulty with erections while taking Propecia, then I think you should see a urologist for a complete evaluation, as there are other causes of erectile dysfunction.

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