Greetings all, I want to thank RxISK for presenting this opportunity for me to share my experience with this drug and my persisting side effects from it.
It all started in April 2021, I was an insecure eighteen year-old Canadian guy slowly losing his hair like many others out there. Desperate for a cure, I decide to do some independent research and I discovered Minoxidil, a topical hair growth gel that will make my hair grow back? Yes please! I quickly placed my order and waited anxiously, excited to see the results that were promised.
Once I had received my 5% KIRKLAND TOPICAL MINOXIDIL, I wasted no time applying 1mL generously to my head twice a day, excited to see the results. A month goes by and it was working wonders! My hair was growing back and so was my confidence.
All was well up until around the start of May I had begun to notice an increase in my resting heart rate of around 40bpm. I have a Fitbit that I use for exercise, so to make sure it wasn’t just anxiety, I began tracking my heart rate while asleep and resting. Turns out my normal resting heart rate of 70bpm has now skyrocketed to 120bpm. It felt like someone was pounding inside my chest daily. The intense palpitations would come in waves, and bring anxiety.
I used to experience severe hypochondria a few years back that I have long since been able to manage, but this was a whole other demon I wasn’t ready to face. I couldn’t sleep every night because my heart rate would always stay above 100bpm, no matter what I did it would always be racing and racing. I felt sick and I thought I had poisoned myself.
Among the cardiac effects that started to develop, one night in particular I noticed breathing had become increasingly difficult when I was lying down. You know the feeling when you can’t seem to catch a full breath? That but times a hundred. It felt like drowning without any water. I was scared out of my mind. I rushed myself to the hospital that night, where I was hooked up to an ECG and given a blood test after describing my symptoms to the nurse. Turns out I had become anemic and my hemoglobin count was well below normal. I was urged immediately to begin daily iron supplementation which helped alleviate that symptom which I still take to this day.
But the worst part of it all? My sexual function had come to a crashing halt. I slowly started to notice my daily morning wood had completely disappeared and the natural erections a healthy virile eighteen year old should have had vanished. Not only had my natural erections ceased, but now almost all pleasurable genital sensation had been reduced to what I can only describe as wearing several layers of clothing over my genitals at any given time. My sensitivity had plummeted. Gone were the days of natural erections and any sort of pleasurable feeling down south. I was confused, scared, I thought I was broken.
The Minoxidil had to be to blame. I immediately discontinued applications around the start of May 2021 when this had all unfolded. I began to search through website after website trying to find answers to what I was experiencing. That’s when I found the PSSD, PFS, PAS conditions and their subsequent forums. I hit the jackpot. Everything these articles and blog posts had described almost mirrored exactly what symptoms I had been struggling with for the past month. But nowhere was Minoxidil even mentioned as a possibility. In addition it was completely denied as a probable cause by all the healthcare professionals I had seen.
Weeks went by, and the cardiac and sexual symptoms remained. Day after day reminding me of the feeling of imminent death and the inevitable sexless life ahead. It was hell on earth. Now life just did not feel as exciting as it once did. Everything turned grey. Before I was eager to wake up every day ready to face anything that came my way, only now to realize there is nothing that will be able to cure me, and I am stuck and my days drag on. It has now been nine months since I have entered this state and have only managed to have little windows of normalcy and erectile sensation lasting about 10 seconds, just for it to return into bleak nothingness soon after.
I would like to reiterate that I have never tried SSRIs, Finasteride or Accutane ever before in my life. Only minoxidil.
I could copy-paste the minoxidil wikipedia article describing minoxidil’s effects in the body, it seems best to highlight certain sections that draw possible connections to my symptoms. Although I highly recommend to those of you who are suffering from the side effects of minoxidil to take a look and do your own research. You are not crazy. Your symptoms are real, and like everything in life there is an answer out there. We just need to look for it. We need to find out how minoxidil can causes these potent symptoms before we can work on developing potential treatments.
So to summarize, Minoxidil is a antihypertensive, vasodilator blood pressure medication to help those with hypertension and hair loss. It works as a potassium channel opener, causing hyperpolarization to cell membranes. In theory, by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels, it allows more nutrients to hair follicles. Seems simple enough. But once we start digging deeper into the roles that potassium ion channels play in the body’s sexual and cardiac function it all starts to vaguely connect. Remember what I said about my dissipated erogenous sensations? Turns out mechanoreceptors involved in such sensations relay their stimulus through those particular ion channels.
Remember my anemic symptoms? Well according to the wikipedia article, minoxidil causes a redistribution of cellular iron, which could explain the rapid depletion of iron in my body and the subsequent anemia. And because it is a vasodilator, it lowers blood pressure, which causes the heart to beat faster, causing sinus tachycardia which could explain my cardiac symptoms as well.
An article on calcium channel blockers, which are a class of drug similar to potassium channel openers that produces almost the same effects on the body as potassium channel openers do.
Here is a relevant excerpt:
Calcium channel blockers block calcium activity, which causes blood vessels to dilate and lowers blood pressure. The same mechanism that causes this decrease in blood vessel constriction can also decrease the contractions essential for penile rigidity and orgasmic sensation.
Other possible mechanisms by which CCBs may affect sexual activity include:
- Decreasing dopamine activity, which can lead to an increase in prolactin. Increased prolactin can have the following effects:
- Reduced sex drive
- Blocking the actions of excitatory peptides that are involved in genital sensation
Testimony & Honorable Mentions:
It has now been nine months since Minoxidil took a good part of my life from me. I am okay. I am hanging in there. Like many of you, I know my life used to be worlds better, but with everyday that goes by I face this harsh reality with stoic acceptance to the fact that I probably won’t feel pleasure again, or at least for a very long time.
I can still achieve erections and orgasm/ejaculate just fine, however what used to be effortless and natural now has become a challenging chore and without actual prolonged physical stimulation I would not be able to get erect otherwise.
My doctor has booked me to see a endocrinologist and urologist to get to the bottom of this, which he believes my symptoms are due to my low serum testosterone levels, which I would be more than happy to look more into. So I have some sort of hope that perhaps Testosterone Replacement Therapy TRT could return some of my sexual function back and give me some of my spark back. It’s a long shot but like many of you at this point I am willing to try pretty much anything for a chance to get out of this condition.
Please visit the MinoxidilSideEffects subreddit if you feel like you may be suffering from the same thing as this. I am merely one of many. After reading others experiences on there I almost feel lucky. Shout outs to u/FlexMissle99, u/Proper-Craft1, and u/CraftyWookiee for being major contributors on the sub to spread awareness of this drug. We will one day find an answer.
There are many of us out there. Do not believe all the gaslighters and nay-sayers that tell you this is all “in your head”. We are an unfortunate group who experience this. But I’m sure there will only be more of us as the years go by, which will shed more light onto the dangerous long term effects of the medications we take on a daily basis and hopefully find us a cure. What Rxisk is doing is amazing and I fully support their research and highly encourage you to donate to the Rxisk Prize as well as the PFSNetwork Charity/Research Incentive.
Stay strong every single one of you. We’re all gonna make it. Please remain hopeful, and try to make the most out of life while you can. I urge you to not let this condition define who you are. As hard as it may be, accept that this is how you feel and try your best to live every day with some hope that in the future there will be cure, if not treatment. RxISK has provided me a safe space to talk about my experience and has given me relief that there are others out there just like me. This doesn’t pertain to just Minoxidil syndrome sufferers, I am talking to everyone who has a pharmacological induced sexual dysfunction, whether it be SSRIs, Finasteride or Accutane.