Decreased alcohol consumption among former male users of finasteride with persistent sexual side effects: a preliminary report

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013 Nov;37(11):1823-6. doi: 10.1111/acer.12177. Epub 2013 Jun 13.


Background: There is a robust literature in rodents, but not in humans, on the interaction between finasteride and alcohol, particularly as it relates to neurosteroids. Finasteride has been shown to reduce alcohol intake and suppress alcohol preference in male mice. This study examines the role of finasteride in alcohol consumption in humans with male pattern hair loss.

Methods: The subjects were 83 otherwise healthy men who developed persistent sexual side effects associated with finasteride, despite the cessation of this medication for at least 3 months. Information from standardized interviews was collected regarding medical histories, sexual function, and alcohol consumption before and after finasteride use.

Results: Of the 63 men who consumed at least 1 alcoholic beverage/wk prior to starting finasteride, 41 (65%) noted a decrease in their alcohol consumption after stopping finasteride. This reduction typically began before discontinuing finasteride. Twenty men (32%) reported no change in their alcohol consumption, and 2 men (3%) reported an increase in their alcohol consumption. For the 63 consumers of alcohol, the mean number (± SE) of alcoholic beverages/wk declined from 5.2 ± 0.7 before finasteride to 2.0 ± 0.3 after finasteride (p < 0.0001). A major study limitation is the lack of a comparison group.

Conclusions: In former male users of finasteride who developed persistent sexual side effects, 65% noticed a decline in their alcohol consumption as compared to baseline. This finding is consistent with finasteride's ability to modulate alcohol intake in rodents. Further research is needed on the central nervous system effects of finasteride in humans.

Keywords: Alcohol; Allopregnanolone; Finasteride; Neurosteroid; γ-Aminobutyric Acid Receptor.

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / administration & dosage
  • Drinking Behavior / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Finasteride / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / chemically induced*
  • Young Adult


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Ethanol
  • Finasteride