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Hair Care

Side Effects of DHT Blockers: Is It Really That Bad?

Research link DHT to baldness and experts have advised that the use of DHT blockers can help. However, side effects of DHT blockers are a concern for many.

Relevant reads:

What is DHT?

Dihydrotestosterone is a derivative hormone that is formed when testosterone undergoes conversion. Type 1 5α-R is mainly found in the sebaceous glands and the epidermis but is also present in sweat glands, hair follicles, endothelial cells, and Schwann cells in the myelin sheaths of nerves.

We dive deeper into DHT in this article – DHT: The Ultimate Guide

Side effects of DHT blockers and reduced DHT levels

Products that help to block the conversion of testosterone into DHT and natural remedies to block DHT may help in reducing hair fall and baldness. However, there are also consequences to this deliberate change in hormonal balance.

Reduction in DHT can lead to sexual dysfunction, depression, and physical changes like male breast development in some cases.

Some of the most common side-effects are as described below:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Inflated/tender breast area
  • Depression
  • Reduced sexual drive
  • Premature and reduction in ejaculation
  • Bone and muscle mass reduction
  • Rashes

Erectile dysfunction

Reduction in DHT levels directly affects hormones, hence also affecting the erection. Dysfunction causes the erection to be less stout or short-lived – in extreme cases, there may not be any erection at all. This makes the overall intercourse experience less satisfactory and may lead to other mental health issues like anxiety or depression and reduced self-confidence.

Inflated/tender breast area

Breast areas are generally fat accumulation points of a body. DHT blockers work by restricting the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which results in an increased testosterone level along with higher androgen levels. This imbalance may cause fat deposits to be dumped around the breast area making them swell up and become tender.

Reduced sexual drive

DHT is expected to bind itself to androgen receptors longer than testosterone and thus makes the impact of the initial hormone stronger. A greater testosterone impact directly affects the sexual wellness and drive for men. Sexual intercourse becomes more fulfilling and lasting and greater pleasure can be derived from it. Using DHT blockers will reduce the impact of testosterone, hence, also reducing the libido.

Premature and reduction in ejaculation

Several studies have linked the ejaculation problem by using DHT blockers such as finasteride. These medicines and blockers directly interfere with the DHT formation as it prevents the androgenic conversion of testosterone into DHT. Since DHT complements and enhances the impact of testosterone, it also increases semen volume. When blockers are used, this effect becomes less pronounced and therefore, reduces the volume of semen.

Bone and muscle mass reduction

DHT is a synthesizer for protein and transporter of essential amino acids that help in the formation of muscles. Similarly, this also helps in advancing bone density and helps in bones achieving a stronger structure. Reduction in DHT levels using blockers will slow down the process.

Rashes

Some of the DHT blockers such as minoxidil are topical solutions that need to be applied on the site affected by hair loss. This topical application can cause an allergic reaction. It can irritate the skin or cause rashes. Although allergic reaction occurrence is rare, topical solutions may cause discomfort, hives, or soreness on the skin or scalp.

What to do when you experience the side effects of DHT blockers?

DHT blockers can and may adversely affect the natural process of DHT formation and as such may incur side-effects that directly negatively affect the natural course of hormones and androgens. It is better to either take the DHT blockers under the close supervision of a physician and or reduce the amount of DHT blockers to limit the effects on hormones and health.

Always consult your doctor before starting any hair loss medication.

References

  1. Erectile dysfunction [Internet]. [cited 2021 Oct 13]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776
  2. Mondaini N, Gontero P, Giubilei G, Lombardi G, Cai T, Gavazzi A, et al. Finasteride 5 mg and sexual side effects: how many of these are related to a nocebo phenomenon? J Sex Med. 2007 Nov;4(6):1708–12.
  3. Carbone DJ Jr, Hodges S. Medical therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia: sexual dysfunction and impact on quality of life. Int J Impot Res. 2003 Aug;15(4):299–306.
  4. Hamdi MM, Mutungi G. Dihydrotestosterone stimulates amino acid uptake and the expression of LAT2 in mouse skeletal muscle fibres through an ERK1/2-dependent mechanism. J Physiol. 2011 Jul 15;589(Pt 14):3623–40.
  5. Savino MT. Letter: Side effects of minoxidil. JAMA. 1976 Jan 5;235(1):23.
Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.D.
Dr. Ahmad Fayyaz Chaudhry earned his MBBS degree from Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad, in 2020. During graduation, he enrolled himself in the Dermatology Ward DHQ Hospital Faisalabad for all the necessary training required to pass the bachelor's exam and encounter dermatological diseases daily. Currently, he is posted as a House Physician in the Medical Unit 3 Allied Hospital Faisalabad, where he encounters all kinds of hepatic, cardiac, neurological, and dermatological diseases daily.

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