The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (7/12/12), involved following up with men who had persistent sexual side effects between nine and 16 months after discontinuing the medication. The subjects were all healthy men under the age of 40 who had no sexual dysfunction or medical conditions before taking finasteride (the generic version of Propecia). Researchers found that at the time of follow-up, persistent sexual side effects were still present in 96 percent of the subjects.
"In most men who developed persistent sexual side effects [those that lasted for three months or more] despite the discontinuation of finasteride, the sexual dysfunction continued for many months or years," researchers concluded.
The study size was small—54 men in total—and all men had already experienced sexual side effects linked to Propecia. Some of the men reportedly took Propecia for only a few weeks, but others took it for years. Among the side effects they reported were erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual drive and painful genitals. Some men also reported depression and difficulty with cognition.
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Overall, the percentage of men who experience long-term Propecia side effects is likely small, but given how frequently Propecia is prescribed, there could be many men at risk of suffering persistent sexual side effects.
In April 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced changes to the warning label of both Propecia and Proscar. The label was updated to expand the list of sexual side effects linked to the drugs because some of those side effects continued after the drug was stopped.