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Does hair loss medications have any side effects?

Many men choose to take hair loss medication when they notice their hair isn’t as thick as it used to be, or when their hairline begins to recede. This is because hair loss medications such as finasteride and minoxidil have been proven to reduce and reverse hair loss in men with male pattern baldness.

Before you take any medication (or really make any decisions involving your own health), you should always do your homework and make sure you’re comfortable with your treatment plan. To make that easier for you, we went ahead and summed up the important facts below.

Common finasteride side effects

Yes, like any drug, there might be side effects. Some of the possible side effects of taking finasteride 1mg include:

  • dizziness

  • feeling like you might pass out

  • headache

  • runny nose

  • rash

  • swelling in your hands or feet

  • swelling or tenderness in your breasts

Uncommon finasteride side effects

Potential uncommon side effects of finasteride include:

  • Less desire to have sex

  • Problems with ejaculation, for example a decrease in the amount of semen released

  • Erectile dysfunction (problems obtaining or maintaining an erection)

  • Depression

Let’s just jump right into what’s likely your biggest fear though: erectile dysfunction. Though rare, in clinical trials, 3.8% of male patients noticed some form of sexual side effects (versus 2.1% of patients using the placebo), including less desire for sex, difficulty in achieving an erection, or a decrease in the amount of semen released during sex.

As mentioned, these side effects are uncommon and most people will not get them. They are often only temporary and usually disappear when treatment is stopped.

Common minoxidil side effects

Potential common side effects of minoxidil include:

  • Itching

  • Rash

  • Dermatitis

  • Unwanted hair growth on the face or body

Some of these side effects may only be temporary, and unwanted hair growth on the face or body can be minimised by washing your hands (or any part of the body other than the scalp that has come into contact with minoxidil) thoroughly with water after application.

What can I do if I experience side effects?

If you experience any side effects when taking hair loss medication you should stop taking it and seek advice from a doctor. If you get the go-ahead from the doctor, you can try a different type of hair loss medication (e.g. if minoxidil didn’t work for you, you could try finasteride instead). Like most medicines, your body may be able to tolerate one more than the other, so you can experiment with minoxidil or finasteride to see which one works for you best. Just ensure you have a consultation with a doctor first before you decide to change medication.

The crux of the matter

As with most medication, hair loss medication such as minoxidil and finasteride have potential side effects that you should know about before you take them. Not everyone gets these side effects, though, and they usually cease after you stop taking the medication. If you do experience any side effects, stop taking the medication and talk to your doctor. The doctor may suggest that you try another type of hair loss medication or suggest another alternative.

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