For many years, people have used minoxidil to treat hair loss, but it seems they have been doing it wrong all along.
Recent studies in important research institutions are revisiting the topic and proposing oral minoxidil as an alternative for patients with hair loss who didn’t respond to topical treatment.
However, minoxidil can come with side effects, and some of them could affect patients sexually.
This article covers the topic thoroughly, comparing minoxidil with other medications and listing some natural alternatives you can also try.
What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is the main chemical composition ingredient of Rogaine. The discovery of this drug was made in the 1970s. Initially, it was used for patients with a diagnosis of refractory hypertension.
In the body, minoxidil is converted into its active metabolite, minoxidil sulfate. It relaxes the smooth muscle by opening potassium channels in cells.
Topical minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication because it acts on the skin without many adverse effects. It is available in creams, foam form, and other topical applications with a delivery medium and additives designed to target the skin. It comes in a concentration of 2% and 5%.
What is Minoxidil used for?
Minoxidil was a drug used to treat hypertension until researchers realized one of the main side effects was accelerated hair growth. Then, the medication started to be used for baldness, and topical application became more popular than oral minoxidil.
Rogaine benefits for hair loss treatment are mainly focused on male pattern baldness and may not be ideal for other hair loss problems. For example, a receding hairline and unexplained or patchy hair loss may require an alternative treatment.
The success rate of minoxidil treatment is high, but it needs to be used every day for an extended period, and many patients quit their treatment before seeing results.
Minoxidil started as a blood pressure medication and can still be used for this purpose.
It is considered along with a diuretic when the blood pressure condition is difficult to treat and does not respond to the usual treatment.
5 side effects of Minoxidil sexually
The main side effects of topical minoxidil include skin irritation and hypersensitivity to sunlight, which is why it is best to avoid sun exposure.
Rogaine warnings also have medication side effects such as dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, and swelling of the hands and feet.
But there are more complications if we use minoxidil in oral form. As mentioned in the introduction, there’s recent interest in using minoxidil orally to treat hair loss more effectively.
But despite promoting vasodilation, some patients have experienced side effects sexually with minoxidil, such as a sudden onset of sexual dysfunction, reduced libido, sexual performance problems, and erectile dysfunction.
These sexual side effects are not yet studied, maybe because oral minoxidil was not commonly recommended in the past.
But since the possibility is opening lately, this post-minoxidil syndrome is worth considering among young patients with an active sexual life.
Just think about it for a while. For years, minoxidil has been used to treat androgenetic alopecia.
This type of alopecia is associated with androgen receptors being too sensitive in response to testosterone. The mechanism of minoxidil remains elusive, but one possibility is that it inhibits androgen receptors. In other words, minoxidil impairs the response of cells to testosterone.
So, does minoxidil affect or lower testosterone? There’s no proof that men under minoxidil have low testosterone levels.
Does minoxidil affect libido or cause ED?
There’s no scientific evidence. However, some patients report this as a possible side effect. And if minoxidil inhibits testosterone response, their claim has a strong rationale.
There is a study about minoxidil and androgen receptors. It is still in the initial phase, and we only have in-vitro studies. They showed that minoxidil affects the proteins that form the androgen receptor.
Interestingly, this study showed that minoxidil was binding to the androgen receptor and blocking the action of testosterone competing for the ligand-binding domain.
In other words, minoxidil binds to the receptor that receives testosterone. By doing so, it won’t let testosterone stimulate cells.
If that’s happening in every cell, it could trigger signs and symptoms of low testosterone, even if you have normal levels.
More evidence is required in animal models and then humans to study this mechanism further and evaluate the implications of minoxidil in sexual health.
How does Minoxidil compare with other medications for hair loss?
Minoxidil is not the only medication used for hair loss. There are many in the market, and most are available as creams and topical solutions. Other treatment options include:
This is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. This reduces the amount of DHT in your body.
It is given as an oral pill. Propecia is a brand name for finasteride, and it is one of the best-selling drugs for benign prostatic hyperplasia.
It is also used to treat male pattern baldness because it reduces the amount of active testosterone (DHT) in the organism.
There are plenty of differences between finasteride vs minoxidil, starting with the mechanism of action, which is radically different. Moreover, minoxidil stimulates hair growth directly, while finasteride reduces DHT-triggered damage to the hair follicles.
Nanoxidil is another commonly used topical treatment for hair loss. The molecule is very similar to minoxidil, except that it is smaller and has a reduced molecular weight. This is positive because it lets nanoxidil stay in place for a more extended period and increases its bioavailability.
You could say that the main difference between nanoxidil vs minoxidil is the molecular weight, and it is recommended as an alternative when minoxidil is not effective.
Natural Minoxidil alternatives
Oral minoxidil is a relatively new proposal for patients who didn’t achieve results with other hair-regrowth medications. Other hair loss solutions are available, including finasteride, but the latter has even more severe sexual side effects than minoxidil if you take them orally.
As an alternative, there are different natural remedies and vitamins not associated with libido loss that may extend the growth phase in the hair follicle and increase hair density. They include:
This plant has been used to treat prostate cancer and male infertility. It is usually delivered with zinc, which is essential for hair health and testosterone production.
Pumpkin seed oil
This oil is an effective treatment for the symptoms of androgenic alopecia in men. In a study on males with androgenetic alopecia, the pumpkin seed oil group experienced a 40% increase in hair density, while patients under a placebo experienced a 10% increase.
This oil is also applied on the scalp, and studies show that it has a similar effect when comparing rosemary oil vs minoxidil.
However, the only inconvenience is that, similar to minoxidil, you need to use rosemary oil for a prolonged period for better results. The results are noticeable after six months of daily applications.
Recent studies comparing peppermint oil vs minoxidil in animal models suggest that the most prominent effects on hair loss are obtained with peppermint oil. Dermal thickness increases as well as follicle number and depth.
Vitamins and minerals for hair loss
Nutritional factors may contribute to hair loss. Thus, including a few vitamins and minerals in your diet would also be a good idea. According to scientific research, the most prominent are vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, selenium, and zinc.
Is Rogaine toxic for your sexual function? The answer is not yet clear if you look at scientific studies.
More recently, the oral application of minoxidil has been proposed as an alternative for patients who do not respond to creams and foams or have an adverse skin reaction. These oral applications can reduce hair shedding and thinning, but what about the systemic side effects?
Some patients have described side effects related to their sexual health, and there’s a rationale behind that. Studies show that minoxidil (Rogaine) binds and may inhibit testosterone receptors, which conveys libido problems and other sexual health risks.
As of now, it is yet too early to reach a conclusion about the side effects of minoxidil sexually. However, for those patients who experienced them, there’s always an alternative with natural remedies such as saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil, and rosemary oil.
98 total views, 2 views today