Thankfully the potential side effects of hair loss drug Propecia are becoming much more known. To end up with a smaller penis however, could just be the side effect to stop many men in their tracks.
It would be fair to say that drug company Merck hasn't exactly been forthcoming with all the facts about Propecia, but with worldwide sales of the hair loss drug worth more than $500 million per year, why would they? A number of potential side effects are detailed by the manufacturer, however many people and organizations around the world have accused Merck of being more than a little economical with the facts, particularly those relating to the range, likelihood and severity of the documented side effects.
Like many men in their thirties, Paul Innes was unhappy about his thinning hair. Desperate to save his receding hairline, the father-of-three, from Hull, sought help from his GP. Speaking on ITV's This Morning, he said:
I became paranoid about my appearance so I went to my family doctor and expressed my concerns about my hair loss.
The doctor performed blood tests to rule out thyroid problems, and Mr Innes was recommended Propecia - an EU approved drug, also known as finasteride. It works by stopping the conversion of the hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is thought to be the active hormone in hair loss. He was told that there was a 2% chance among users of sexual dysfunction - but this side effect would disappear if he stopped taking the medication. After forking out around £90 for a course of the pills, he began taking the drugs, but within about six weeks he says he began to have 'strange thoughts'.
I started to feel quite withdrawn from my usual social activities such as playing football, watching my local team play, going out with friends. I tended to spend more time indoors and I just felt low in mood generally.
His relationship then came to an end - something he blames on the insecurity he felt, due to his hair loss. He said:
In the early part of 2013 I started to pay attention to my hair loss again and that's when I decided to go back on the Propecia again.
It was at around this time that Paul met a new girlfriend, Hayley Waudby.
When I was trying to be intimate with Hayley I was practically impotent and I remember more or less waking up one morning and I had no connection between my brain and my genitals - it was unbelievable. My penis is totally different in size and girth. It’s much shorter and thinner. It now functions about ten per cent of the time with Viagra. Every time me and Hayley tried to make love, my head said yes but down there I felt nothing. I felt like a failure, like less of a man because I couldn’t seem to make love to my own girlfriend.
Talking to Holly Willoughby and Phillp Schofield, he said:
I was in a whirlwind of mixed emotions. I didn't know what was going on with me. At that point I decided to inform my family that I'd been taking this medication. They took me to seek help through my family GP and despite coming off the medication, and having only taken it for three weeks I started to get really, really low, very depressed. A crisis team was called to my home and they decided it was a good idea to go into a psychiatric unit voluntarily, which I felt I needed because I couldn't keep myself safe. I couldn't function, I couldn't look after myself. I just didn't know why I was feeling so abnormal.
A study found that men who take the hair loss drug finasteride, also known as Propecia, can experience prolonged periods of low libido.
Dr Michael Irwig, assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, discovered that 94 percent of men taking finasteride developed low sexual desire, 92 percent suffered from erectile dysfunction and 69 percent experienced difficulty with orgasm.
The study, to be published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, is the first to show that symptoms persisted for at least three months in otherwise healthy men, even when they stopped taking the drug.
It’s thought the drug alters levels of important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that affect mood and other bodily functions.