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Is There a Link Between ED and Hair Loss?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 09/14/2017

Updated 05/20/2024

Many men struggle with hair loss and ED (erectile dysfunction) in their lifetimes. About 40 percent of men in their 40s are affected by some level of ED. Around two-thirds have some degree of hair loss by age 35, and by age 50, it’s as many as 85 percent.

These statistics might be disheartening, but their similarity begs the question: Is there a link between erectile dysfunction and hair loss? For those Googling “Cialis hair loss” or “does Viagra cause hair loss,” the answer is a very complicated “not really.”

Hair loss itself isn’t a cause or result of ED, though the two health conditions share many common risk factors.

Let’s break it down, starting with the basics.

Before we get into the various causes of erectile dysfunction and hair loss, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to the facts. 

It’s common and normal to occasionally deal with some degree of sexual dysfunction. But when not being able to get or keep an erection becomes a recurring issue, it can have an impact on your self-confidence and relationships. And it might point to erectile dysfunction.

Although it’s an entirely different condition, hair loss can also affect your confidence and lead to problems in your personal, professional, and social lives.

There are several types of hair loss. But by far the most common — and most consequential — is male pattern baldness

Clinically referred to as androgenetic alopecia, this form of hair loss is the one most men start to notice as they get older. It results in the classic M-shaped receding hairline and bald spot around the crown that can appear in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s.

Other forms of hair loss include telogen effluvium (stress-related shedding) and alopecia areata (patchy hair loss caused by autoimmune issues). 

Erectile dysfunction and male pattern hair loss don’t seem to be directly related. By this, we mean there isn’t any shared genetic factor that causes both ED and male pattern baldness — at least that we know of right now.

However, there are a few minor similarities between the risk factors for erectile dysfunction and the risk factors for hair loss.

One of these is age. While young men are more prone to ejaculation issues, the risk of developing ED increases as you get older. This is largely because lots of physical conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction — such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure — become more common with age.

Age is also closely linked to hair loss. As you get older, the effects of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) on your hair are more visible, causing everything from a receding hairline to near-total hair loss.

Some psychological causes of erectile dysfunction might contribute to certain types of hair loss. For example, stress is a known psychological cause of ED, and it’s also a potential cause of telogen effluvium.

Some factors that may contribute to hair loss could actually have a positive effect on your erections and sexual performance.

For instance, male sex hormones (androgens) are a major contributing factor that overlaps between sexual health and hair loss.

DHT, the androgen behind male pattern baldness, is created as a byproduct of testosterone.

Though high levels of testosterone (and thus DHT) usually aren’t very good for your hairline, healthy testosterone levels are important for proper sexual desire and function. There’s also a weak but established link between low testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction.

From a hormonal perspective, one of the main culprits behind hair loss is also a fairly big deal for maintaining a healthy sex drive and strong erections.

Put simply, it’s complicated. While some risk factors for erectile dysfunction are also risk factors for hair loss, others aren’t. So it’s best to think of erectile dysfunction and hair loss as very, very distant cousins — not siblings. 

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Erectile dysfunction and hair loss are distinct, separate conditions. And this might go without saying, but hair loss treatment doesn’t treat ED.

You can go through life with a full head of hair and deal with persistent ED, or go bald early and face no sexual function issues well into your 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s. Some men get both, while others get neither.

What we’re trying to say is that nothing specifically causes both to happen simultaneously. Genetic hair loss is the luck of the draw, and ED can happen for numerous reasons.

With that said, there are a few areas where the causes of ED and hair loss can overlap, at least a little.

The causes of erectile dysfunction can be physical or psychological. 

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction include: 

  • Heart disease

  • Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Peyronie’s disease

  • Damage to the penis and surrounding area from injury or surgery

These issues can contribute to ED by reducing blood flow to the penis or damaging the nerves that cause you to feel sexually stimulated.

Some medications can also contribute to ED. For example, antidepressant medications, cancer medications, and drugs for high blood pressure can all affect sexual function. Even alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals in tobacco can affect your erections and performance in bed.

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include sexual performance anxiety, guilt related to sex, low self-esteem, stress, and depression.

When it comes to hair loss — at least male pattern baldness — the main causes are your genes and the effects of male sex hormones.

Here’s how it works:

  • DHT overload damages the scalp. Over time, DHT can attach to receptors located in the scalp and damage hair follicles. This process shortens the anagen stage (the growth phase) of the hair growth cycle.

  • Thinning begins. The thinning caused by DHT usually starts around the hairline before progressing to other areas.

  • It’s genetic. The genetic part of “androgenetic” comes from the fact that not all guys are equally as susceptible to the pattern hair loss effects of DHT. Some have the hair loss gene, and others don’t.

  • You might say it’s the luck of the draw. This is why some men go bald early, while others maintain a full head of hair into old age.

Our guide to DHT and male hair loss explores this process in more detail.

Other types of male hair loss have a range of causes. Some, like telogen effluvium, can be caused by stress, illnesses (like fungal infections and autoimmune diseases), surgery, trauma, nutritional deficiencies, or medication. 

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The good news is that erectile dysfunction and male pattern baldness are both treatable. In fact, for most men who are affected by ED, treating it is as easy as taking the right medication shortly before sex. 

Does Viagra cause hair loss? No, but it does treat ED. Currently, the most effective options for treating ED are prescription medications known as PDE5 inhibitors. These meds work by making it easier for blood to flow to the tissue inside the penis called the corpora cavernosa.

PDE5 inhibitors include:

Our guide to ED treatments and drugs goes into more detail about how these medications work, their potential adverse effects, and how you can use them to get relief from ED and improve your sexual performance.

And tadalafil hair loss isn’t a thing, so you don’t have to worry about your ED meds causing excess shedding.

Besides using medication, making simple changes to your habits and lifestyle can help boost your health and reduce the severity of erectile dysfunction.

Like ED, hair loss is treatable with medication. However, the best approach isn’t to take a single pill but to use two medications together to target hair loss from multiple angles.

Finasteride

The first medication for treating hair loss is finasteride. This prescription drug is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor that works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT.

By stopping this conversion, finasteride reduces serum DHT levels by 70 percent — more than enough to slow down, stop, or reverse the effects of male pattern baldness.

Finasteride does sometimes cause sexual side effects, one being erectile dysfunction. However, this only affects a tiny percentage of men who use the medication (just over one percent), and it’s often a temporary issue.

We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who can determine if a prescription is appropriate.

Minoxidil

The second medication for hair loss is minoxidil. Available over the counter, minoxidil is a topical treatment that works by stimulating each hair follicle to enter the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. It also promotes blood flow to the scalp, which may boost hair growth.

Finasteride and Minoxidil Combo

When used together, finasteride and minoxidil are highly effective at preventing hair loss and stimulating hair regrowth. In one study, 94.1 percent of balding men who used both medications for a year experienced improvements.

We offer minoxidil solution (a liquid) and minoxidil foam online, along with finasteride with minoxidil in our Hair Power Pack. 

Hair loss treatments, delivered

If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction or hair loss, know you’re not alone. In fact, you have lots of company.

Here’s the bottom line:

  • Hair loss and ED are both common and treatable. Most guys deal with these problems at a certain point in life, and luckily, both are treatable issues. 

  • They can happen with age. Although ED and hair loss aren’t directly linked, both conditions tend to appear as you grow older.

  • A proactive approach is best. Your first step is acknowledging the problem and its effect on your life. Then you can start taking action to solve the issue (or issues).

We offer several ED medications online, including science-based, FDA-approved drugs. We also have proven hair loss medications, including finasteride and minoxidil.

These treatments can help you to enjoy the best of both worlds — great sexual health and a full, thick head of hair — as you enter your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. 

13 Sources

  1. American Hair Loss. (n.d.). Men’s Hair Loss / Introduction.
  2. Badri T, et al. (2021). Minoxidil.
  3. Dhaliwal A, et al. (2021). PDE5 Inhibitors.
  4. Ho CH, et al. (2021). Androgenetic Alopecia.
  5. Hu R, et al. (2015). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients.
  6. Hughes, EC, et al. (2021). Telogen Effluvium.
  7. Kinter KJ, et al. (2021). Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone.
  8. Lakin M, et al. (2018). Erectile Dysfunction.
  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (2017). Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction.
  10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (2017). Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction.
  11. PROPECIA® (finasteride) tablets for oral use. (2012). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/020788s020s021s023lbl.pdf.
  12. Rajfer J. (2000). Relationship Between Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction.
  13. Zito PM, et al. (2021). Finasteride.
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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