Post Finasteride Syndrome - Is It Real? Everything You Need To Know

Andy Boysan
Andy BoysanBPharmDirector & Superintendent Pharmacist

If you’re considering using Propecia or Finasteride, you may have heard of Post Finasteride Syndrome (PFS). Here we talk in more detail about what PFS is and if it’s real.

What is Post Finasteride Syndrome and is it real?

Post finasteride syndrome (PFS) is the name given to a condition associated with the use of Finasteride-based medications to treat male hair loss and pattern baldness.

Finasteride (the active ingredient in treatments like Propecia and Finasteride) is a drug that inhibits the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. This hormone is responsible for causing male pattern baldness, hair loss, and can cause an enlarged prostate. By blocking DHT, Finasteride can treat these conditions (check out this post to find out more about what Finasteride is used for).

However, in very rare circumstances, some of the men who use Finasteride-based medications suffer from a range of persistent sexual, physical, neurological and mental adverse reactions.

This complex set of symptoms is known as PFS.

We still know relatively little about PFS; scientific research still needs to be done into the correlation between the use of Finasteride and this condition, as well as any possible factors that could cause patients to be affected. Many in the medical professional community still do not recognise PFS as a serious medical condition, despite similarities in an increasing number of reported cases.

However, more research is being carried out and only recently, Post Finasteride Syndrome was added to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) list of genetic and rare diseases.

How do you know if you have PFS?

Although it is very rare, PFS can appear during a Finasteride course of treatment, and may even appear after treatment is halted. If you’re concerned you might have PFS, there are a number of symptoms you can look for.

These are some of the symptoms that are typically associated with PFS:

  • Sexual:
    • Erectile dysfunction and impotence
    • Decrease or complete loss of sex drive
    • Orgasm disorders such as sexual anhedonia and loss of pleasurable orgasm
    • Ejaculatory disorders
    • Shrinkage and numbness of the penis
    • Shrinkage and numbness of the testes
    • Peyronie’s disease
  • Physical:
    • Gynecomastia (female-like breast enlargement)
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Decreased body temperature
    • Obesity and increased fat deposition
    • Insomnia and disrupted sleep
    • Muscle problems such as muscle atrophy, pain, weakness
    • Lack of energy
    • Slurred speech
  • Mental & neurological:
    • Memory and recall impairment
    • Slowed cognitive processes
    • Lack of initiative & problem-solving abilities
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Panic attacks
    • Listlessness
    • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure — emotional flatness)

PFS is very rare. Many people who take Finasteride will not experience any side effects, whatsoever. However, medication does affect the individual taking it in different ways, so it’s worth knowing about common side effects before you begin to take any medication.

If you want to read more about the possible side effects of using Finasteride, please go to our Finasteride side effects page.

Is there a cure for PFS?

If you are experiencing side effects from using Finasteride-based medication, they should go away once you stop taking it.

However, the big concern about PFS is that symptoms don’t go after the user stops taking the medication. PFS can even appear after you have stopped using Finasteride.

Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for PFS and very few effective treatments.

Some sufferers have found that some lifestyle changes have helped to ease symptoms, such as:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating healthily
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee
  • Treatments like therapy that will improve mental health and wellbeing
  • Avoiding anti-depressant medications

Although there is no cure, some sufferers have reported an improvement in symptoms over time, and PFS recovery may be possible.

The long-term repercussions of PFS

PFS causes a serious state of permanent sexual, mental, neurological, and physical side effects, which means it can have a long-lasting effect on your physical and mental health. In some very rare cases, this has reportedly led to suicidal thoughts and suicide in users.

It is worth noting, however, that most men who take Finasteride do respond very well to the medication, and experiencing PFS is incredibly uncommon.

If you are unsure about taking Finasteride, you can speak to a medical professional who will help to advise you.

Summary

PFS is the name given to a rare condition associated with the use of Finasteride-based medications to treat male pattern baldness.

PFS is real, however, it is very rare to suffer from this condition. The NHS lists Finasteride as the main treatment for male pattern baldness on the NHS hair loss condition page, without any warning against using Finasteride products.

If you’re considering using Finasteride for hair loss, you can start an online consultation here — you can also speak to The Independent Pharmacy team with any queries you have about PFS here.

Sources

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