Male pattern baldness is quite common, which is a result of both genetic predisposition and lifestyle. It is a massive problem for many men. However, it does not have any impact on physical well-being and no direct effect on erectile function.
Nonetheless, male pattern baldness may negatively impact sexual life, as it results in the loss of self-esteem, confidence. Many men living with the problem have a reluctance to meet the opposite sex.
There are very few treatments for the condition.
What Is Rogaine?
It is one of the oldest and most recommended remedies for hair loss treatment. It remains one of the best-recommended therapies as there are not many known medications that work in the condition.
Rogaine is another name for minoxidil. Minoxidil is more commonly used topically as a solution or in an oil base, but doctors may also recommend oral dose. Researchers do not fully understand how it works.
What researchers know that minoxidil or Rogaine promotes hair growth. It is especially useful for androgenic alopecia. It may increase cellular ATP synthase, boost calcium levels, increase local metabolism. There is some evidence that it may also cause local vasodilation, and thus improve blood flow to the scalp (1, 2).
However, since it is so good at treating male alopecia, it is quite probable that it may have some influence over the androgenic receptors. Oral doses of minoxidil may have an impact on testosterone functions. It may suppress certain androgenic features.
The Link Between Male Hair Loss and Testosterone Receptors
There is a known relationship between testosterone physiology and male pattern baldness. This is related to genetics and testosterone metabolism.
Thus, male pattern baldness occurs due to androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone metabolism, with strong androgenic and anabolic effect. Another reason for the problems is just a higher number of androgen receptors, which has mostly to do with genetics (3, 4).
This means that men living with male pattern baldness may have either higher DHT, a kind of testosterone, or they may be more sensitive to it. This also means that reducing testosterone levels may help with baldness.
Could Influencing Male Dht Receptors Help Overcome Hair Loss?
Yes, and that is one of the ways to treat male pattern baldness. However, this does not necessarily mean reducing testosterone levels. It is better done by reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT, or by blocking some of the DHT receptors (4).
This means that most of the remedies used to treat male pattern baldness do not affect testosterone levels. However, they may have specific unwanted side effects due to reduced activity of DHT, which is still a potent androgenic.
These side effects do not occur in all men, but just in few. There is a substantial individual difference in the way testosterone acts in the male body. There is a difference in testosterone metabolism, sensitivity towards it also differs. Thus, any agent that blocks DHT may have different effects.
Rogaine and Impotence, Is There a Relationship?
At present, there are only two US FDA approved medications for the treatment of male pattern baldness, and they are minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (5).
Finasteride is only used in tablet form and is a potent 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It is quite good at treating this condition and is now frequently preferred by doctors. However, it is more probable to cause impotence, though in a small number of cases, less than 5% of the cases (6). But there is no need to worry about it; its short-term use has no such side effects. Bodybuilders frequently use it as a part of post cycle therapy to overcome steroidal toxicity.
It is difficult to say if Rogaine can cause impotence or not, as there are contradicting reports. By looking at its mechanism of action, it is not clear if it can reduce male potency in any way. However, some reports indicate that it may have mild action of suppressing male erectile function. This could be due to its some impact on androgenic receptors. Since this effect is weak, such a severe effect may happen only in a small number of cases (7).
The risk with topical applications of Rogaine is almost nil, but again individual sensitivities matter. There are some anecdotal reports about impotence with minoxidil (8). However, such statements are sporadic and may suffer from reporting errors.
Interestingly enough, some individuals suggest just the opposite action. Some people report that applying minoxidil solution to the penis may help treat erectile dysfunction, increase girth size, and improve the hardness. Nevertheless, medical research could not confirm such benefits. And it is quite probable that it may happen due to a placebo effect (9).
Rogaine and Impotence – Concluding Remarks
Studies into the mechanism of action of Rogaine indicate that it may not influence male performance when applied locally. Although some people, more sensitive to it, may have problems and might report impotence, it is an extremely rare thing.
However, an oral dose of minoxidil is more probable to cause impotence, as it has a mild anti-androgenic effect.
Since the risk of impotence with Rogaine is so low, it is not a reason for not using it to treat male pattern baldness. It is just something to know and understand. Usually, it is safe for use, and chances of adverse effects on male performance are one in thousand or less. Even if it happens, it will be mild and reversible on discontinuation.