Firsthand experiences – Volume XIII: User reviews

These reviews are selected from Drugs.com and Ask a Patient (askapatient.com). The users indicated they were males taking finasteride for hair loss conditions, except the user ‘veteran’ who took the drug for an enlarged prostate. Some users took finasteride for less than a month, while others took it for over ten years. Most do not indicate the length of time since stopping the drug.

These reviews are limited to users who gave the drug a low rating and had a negative experience. Positive reviews may also be found on these websites. Notably, on Drugs.com nearly half (49%) of reviews of finasteride for androgenetic alopecia had a 1/10 rating.

Jump to Ask a Patient

Drugs.com

Rating summary (source)

Ratings of users who reported using finasteride for androgenetic alopecia (hair loss). For comparison, in 64 reviews of spironolactone for alopecia, 15% of ratings were 1 out of 10 (vs. 49% for finasteride).

Reviews for finasteride taken for androgenetic alopecia (source)

Still not back to normal”

“Do not use it! This is a very dangerous product. After 4 weeks of using it, I had a total loss of libido and almost became impotent. I have now stopped for three weeks and am still not back to normal. This product is a chemical castration! I don’t understand how this product is available on the market. Use other alternatives such as regaine. Do not use, do not use, do not use!!!!! Giving a 1 rating is overrated.”

Tony on Drugs.com, Jan 17, 2022 • Taken for 1 to 6 months

“I ignored [the side effects] at my peril”

…I took Propecia for 8 years. The side effects came on slowly and I ignored them at my peril: choosing vanity over health and happiness. Still have fatigue, anxiety, issues with the old meat and two veg. Avoid this drug at all costs, buy a razor or trimmer and shave your head.”

Bob on Drugs.com, Aug 14, 2020 • Taken for 5 to 10 years

I cannot sustain an erection during sex, suffer from genital anesthesia and/or numbness, have muted/blocked/pleasureless orgasms when I masturbate, and suffer from brain fog, memory loss, and thinking at times.

“toxic and poisonous medicine”

I have PFS (Post-Finasteride Syndrome). I cannot sustain an erection during sex, suffer from genital anesthesia and/or numbness, have muted/blocked/pleasureless orgasms when I masturbate, and suffer from brain fog, memory loss, and thinking at times. I have low testosterone, extremely high FSH, low cortisol, low vitamin D, adrenal issues, and pituitary problems as a result of being on Propetia on and off for years. I’ve been off of Propecia for a year. Although I’ve had shock wave therapy to remove penile scar tissue and improve nerve damage and had testosterone replacement therapy, my sexual functioning and cognitive issues persist. Oh! And I became infertile on Propecia too. Fortunately, I had enough sperm left to have a baby with my wife via IVF. Stay away from this toxic and poisonous medication! It will potentially destroy your life.

JBano on Drugs.com, Mar 24, 2020 • Taken for 5 to 10 years

“I took 5 pills”

I took 5 pills from April 2-6. Over the course of those 5 days I had worsening symptoms of brain fog, headaches, sleeplessness, suicide ideation, ED/impotence, loss of libido, increased fat mass, and muscle weakness that didn’t dissipate for a month and a half. Even now (July) I still have increased fat mass, increased tissue on the breast, peripheral edema (mild) and difficulty (mild) with erections. I’m not as focused or driven due to ongoing sleep difficulties (mild/moderate) and the intensity of these effects. Every day I regret taking this drug. I took this drug without researching any side effects, I really regret not looking into possible side effects. Please be aware that the consequences could be extremely negative and persistent.

hlj, Jul 12, 2019

I became completely disinterested in sex.

“killed my libido”

Don’t take this drug. I used it for a few months and it killed my libido. I did get some noticeable hair re-growth during that time, so at least that worked. It became very hard to get an erection and I became completely disinterested in sex. I’ve read accounts that some people never regained their libido, and suffered lasting erectile dysfunction. This is not natural. Your libido is part of who you are, and so is hair loss. Be a man and accept the loss of your hair as part of who you were meant to be.

Anonymous, Aug 31, 2016

“everyday 24/7, it never leaves”

Complete Brain Fog, worse than anything you can imagine, literally can’t get out of bed because of the brain damage that this drug induced on me, I feel completely literally detached from the world now, not to mention even the less serious it caused, ED, no Libido, Head Pressure, complete cognitive shift, feel like I’m in a whole different world, NEVER TOUCH this drug EVER EVER EVER, unless your old and have nothing else to lose and don’t care about life any more. I would trade this with ANY other disease just for my brain function to come back again, I feel like I’m in a coma, it’s absolutley frightful, everyday 24/7, it never leaves, sexual sides are a joke compared to this.

Justin, May 12, 2016 • Taken for 6 months to 1 year
Finasteride on Drugs.com (source)

“Chemical castration in a bottle”

This is not worth taking just to keep your hair. This drug literally caused my genitals to go permanently numb at 29 years old. Chemical castration in a bottle.

Regret, Apr 7, 2023 • Taken for 1 to 2 years

This drug literally caused my genitals to go permanently numb at 29 years old.

“misreported risk of side effects originally given by Merck”

I used this for many years and didn’t realize how bad the sexual effects are until I started losing women and confidence. The scandalous thing about this drug is the misreported risk of side effects originally given by Merck who had the original patent on this med. They stated 2% but the reality is A LOT higher, I would be surprised if everyone on it isn’t getting side effects as a percentage may not even be aware of them. I experienced ball shrinkage, ED, loss of libido, and loss of confidence, and in all of this, nobody is sure if hair loss is stopped or reversed.

SimBa, Apr 1, 2023 • Taken for 10 years or more

“I was unable to think and study for my classes”

I took 1mg once daily 4 weeks. Yes I did notice a slight change around my hairline. However, that’s where the positive ends. I am 24 and have had a receding hairline due to stress. Slowly but surely I began to get anxious and I was unable to think and study for my classes. This caused me to go into a full-on downward spiral and I went into panic mode. I had nightmares each night and would wake up in the morning with my heart racing and my breathing heavy. I’d wake up, eat and have coffee as usual. Boom, full blown panic attack. Then I took my prescribed Propranolol and the racing heart would go away, but what was left was a broken, lost, depressed, suicidal shell of who I formerly was. I had to get a doctor’s excuse to miss exams that week. I finally realized it was the finasteride, and I quickly stopped it per two of my doctor’s opinions. Even after stopping, I have continued to be depressed and have suicidal ideation. Getting better.

Asdfg, Jan 27, 2023 • Taken for less than 1 month

It’s almost been a year and half since I stopped[,] only took it for 3 months

“Finasteride has ruined my life sexually and mentally.”

Finasteride has ruined my life sexually and mentally. I wish I never took this poison and hope there will be a cure and or it will improve over time. It’s almost been a year and half since I stopped only took it for 3 months it’s horrid living this way 🙁

Sky on Jul 11, 2022 • Taken for 1 to 6 months

“The ‘side effects’ also appear to NOT be reversible”

Do Not Risk This Drug. Over ten years I’ve taken this drug and I wish I never knew it existed. For 12 months I’ve been telling my GP I am no longer able to get sexually aroused, cannot trust my erection, struggle to orgasm and my penis is completely numb. This is not 2% of men as they say, latest studies are showing this is, at the lowest 20% and growing as more men come forward. The ‘side effects’ also appear to NOT be reversible. That means you cannot have a child and will not be able to have a sexually active relationship. I’m struggling it’s the realization I’ve been prescribed a super dangerous drug and it’s not [sic] destroyed a large portion of my life.

Andrew, May 1, 2022 • Taken for 10 years or more

”It has been 2 years, and no cure!!!!“

There is no way the “1.2% of men experience side effects” is accurate. Almost everyone I talk to has serious side effects. This drug has ruined my life. I can’t get an erection any more. My sex life is non existent, I have no feeling down there and no drive to have sex. It has been 2 years, and no cure!!!! I wish I could figure out a way to sue this company for misleading information. That’s how bad my life has become because of this drug. IT CHANGES YOU FOREVER”

DO…, Feb 18, 2022 • Taken for 1 to 6 months

“mental effects were even worse”

Funny enough I used to think people giving poor ratings to this drug were mental. It destroyed my sex drive, mental effects were even worse. I will never forgive myself for using this stuff

Kanishk, Sep 11, 2021 • Taken for 1 to 6 months

This drug has caused our veterans total impotence, shrinkage of the penis and genitals, enlarged breasts, brain fog, anxiety, depression, severe memory loss, sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleeplessness, suicidal ideation and suicide.

“VA doctors will tell you a fat lie that Post finasteride Syndrome doesn’t exist…”

This drug is bad !! It is given by the Veterans Administration, for enlarged prostate. VA doctors including urologists have been incompetent and derelict in failing to warn veterans about the side effects of the drug and its dangers. They also fail to give hormone blood tests before taking and after taking for testosterone and other hormones to get a base line. This drug has messed me up and millions of veterans who have enlarged prostate with no recognition nor treatment from the Veterans Administration or its urologists/doctors . VA doctors will tell you a fat lie that Post finasteride Syndrome doesn’t exist as all the symptomology goes away once you cease the drug. This drug has caused our veterans total impotence, shrinkage of the penis and genitals, enlarged breasts , brain fog , anxiety , depression, severe memory loss, sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, post traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD) , sleeplessness, suicidal ideation and suicide.

Veteran, Jul 24, 2021 • Taken for 2 to 5 years

“Do not take it if you ever hope to have a sex life again.”

Destroyed my life. Took for 10 years for hair loss. Permanent E.D., zero libido (under any circumstances), viagra and the others have zero effect. Thought I was just getting older realized a decade later. Some MD’s use this to feminize transexuals. Do not take it if you ever hope to have a sex life again.

Virtu…, Jan 20, 2016 • taken for 5 to 10 year

Ask A Patient

Reviews summary (source)

Side effect# of Ask a Patient Reviews
Loss of libido91
Depression*72
Libido decreased*71
Anxiety*63
Erectile dysfunction*57
Disturbance in attention54
Pain39
Somnolence36
Panic attack27
Fatigue*24
Alopecia22
Weight increased22
Amnesia21
Libido increased20
Disturbance in sexual arousal20
Accidental poisoning19
Testicular pain18
Dizziness*18
Breast enlargement18
Headache18
* “Important! This side effect is also associated with Adverse Event Reports (serious reaction); Also see charts in FDA Adverse Events summary.”

Reviews of Propecia for hair loss conditions (source)

Introductory note: Doubting physicians have suggested that the post-drug syndrome is a psychogenic illness “stimulated” by media coverage, Internet discussions, label changes and litigation. In answer to this argument, several reviews below are dated 2008 and 2009—before media coverage, label changes, published research and litigation. Moreover, Merck itself received at least 100 reports of unresolved sexual dysfunction as of approximately 2006.

“My doctor told me…sexual side effects…would go away after I stopped”

Side effects: I started taking propecia shorty after turning 19. Baldness runs in my family and I thought if I could prevent it, why not. My doctor told me he never had anyone complain of sexual side effects, and that they would go away after I stopped. I noticed my penis became a little numb shortly after starting and dumbly kept taking it, thinking I could just stop and all would be normal. Long story short, my flaccid penis is now shrunken and feels weird 5 or so years after quitting. It has completely ruined my life. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I can’t believe I did this.

Comments: Please do not take this. My life is a fraction of what it was before this terrible drug.

Male age 25, Jun 29, 2017 • 1 mg taken for 1 year

I started taking propecia shorty after turning 19. Baldness runs in my family and I thought if I could prevent it, why not.

“permanent damage nothing more to say”

Side effects: shrunken testicles, penis, no libido, fatigue

Comments: permanent damage nothing more to say now i am 36 and still cannot have kids after propecia no testicles left

Male age 36, Oct 28, 2015 • 1 mg taken for 2 months

I had my doubts as to the veracity of the claims of “permanent” sides, but after going through this myself, I’m telling you to steer clear of it!!!

“you are playing Russian Roulette with your health”

Side effects: Decreased libido, change in shape of erections, severe insomnia, constipation, frequent urination, difficulty getting urine out when I do have to go, depression, fatigue

Comments: I took this crap for 2 weeks and quit due to the side effects. It has been 6 weeks since I quit and NONE of the sides have gone away, and a few of them have gotten worse. The insomnia is unbelievable and is destroying my life. I can only hope and pray that my condition improves. This drug does help you keep your hair, but be warned that you are playing Russian Roulette with your health if you take it. I had my doubts as to the veracity of the claims of “permanent” sides, but after going through this myself, I’m telling you to steer clear of it!!! The problems this drug causes really puts baldness in perspective, and shows you how petty and unimportant vanity is compared to your health.

Male age 36, Jul 9, 2010 • 1 mg taken for 2 weeks

“I am a physician and have taken propecia since 1999”

Side effects: I am a physician and have taken propecia since 1999-stopped in Jan 10′. I had my first panic attack on 11/07 and continued the drug. Panic continued and developed major depression in early 2009. In Jan 2010, developed strange neurologic issues, ie. muscle twitches/cramps, numbness and tingling, severe impaired memory, generalized weakness etc..

Comments: I have had the full work up and diagnosed with peripheral nerve hypersensitivity syndrome after mri, spinal tap, emg. Also, my testosterone was found to be 220 after stopping the drug for 4 months now. (1/4th of what it should be at my age) I went from healthy and normal to being diagnosed with hypogonadism and PNH syndrome. I hate this drug and it should be pulled immediately.

Male age 36, Jun 11, 2010 • 1 mg taken for 10 years

“gone from a totally calm, overachieving…individual to someone fighting to hold on…”

Side effects: Appearance and gradual increase (in year 1) and increase of heart palpitations, “brain fog”, and majorly reduced sex drive. I was very happy after a year with the results, some regrowth of hair. The second year I got ear pressure, and other symptoms such as “fogginess” were accelerating. 2.5 years in experienced a “panic attack” (had no idea what it was previously). Already suspecting the drug I discontinued use. The brain fog cleared up quickly (weeks) and I also experienced a major return of libido. I didn’t have another panic attack since BUT the withdrawal led to 6 months of my nervous system freaking out (vision problems, twitching and convulsions, exhaustion) and even today while much better I have big restrictions on what my mind/body can handle daily without starting to freak out.

Comments: I have gone from a totally calm, overachieving (sports, business and personal life) individual to someone fighting to hold on to my lifestyle. Warning: The effects of the drug, both positive and negative, seem to be subtle, creeping up on you over a long period of time. Very tricky drug because you might not notice what is happening to you until its gone too far. Do not take this drug it is not worth the risk.

Male age 37, Sep 16, 2009 • Taken for 2.5 years

“Attempted to commit suicide as a direct result of this drug”

Side effects: Permanent sexual dysfunction, swelling, redness, fatigue and depression. These side-effects are PERMANENT not temporary. Attempted to commit suicide as a direct result of this drug.

Comments: Avoid this poison-pill at all costs. There should be an investigation on how this drug got approval.

Male age 31, Aug 25, 2009 • Taken for 8 months

“can’t get a normal erection anymore. no desire for sex…”

Side effects: no desire for sex, no motivation for anything, very depressed, total memory loss, easily frustrated, lots of anxsiety, can’t sleep, urinating very often, makes u very unsocial.

Comments: can’t get a normal erection anymore. no desire for sex, no interest in working, no interest in life, suicidel. this drug should be ilegal, and those responsible should compensate all of us. Maybe viagra for life.

Male age 30, Jul 7, 2009 • Taken for 18 months

“I’m wondering if I’ll ever have my life back.”

Side effects: Complete loss of sex drive

Comments: I actually had increased sex drive while using propecia for 3 years. However, I suddenly lost my sex drive in June 2007 and it has not recovered for 18 months now since I quit propecia. I have lost all my normal morning erections and my sexual desire is completely absent. Nothing in life is exciting anymore without my sexual drive and energy. You will feel apathetic and emotionally blunt without your libido. It is a feeling of melancholy passiveness. I’m wondering if I’ll ever have my life back.

Male age 24, Nov 21, 2008 • Taken for 3 years

“gynecomastia, penile fibrosis, and inability to ejaculate”

Side effects: I experienced extreme fatigue, anxiety, depression, gynecomastia, apathy, anorgasma, penile fibrosis, penile numbness, loss of nighttime erections and endless hormonal imbalances.

Comments: I took this drug for 1 year and 4 months. The anxiety and depression affected me almost immediately although I was completely clueless as to the cause. I cycled through every single anti-depressant and ADHD medication trying to solve this problem. It wasn’t until I stopped the medication that I realized it was the Propecia. THESE SIDE EFFECTS HAVE NOT SUBSIDED AT ALL SEVEN MONTHS LATER! I would not wish this on my worst enemy. This drug has literally destroyed my life. I know that no one wants to lose their hair and look unattractive, but just imagine how attractive you will be if you are one of the unfortunate few of us that gets gynecomastia, penile fibrosis, and inability to ejaculate (I CANNOT EVEN MASTRUBATE TO ORGASM after taking this drug). If you value your life then I strongly suggest you find some other way!

Male age 20, Nov 8, 2008 • Taken for 16 months

More firsthand experiences