Accutane Side Effects For Men: Would You Give Up An Erection for Clear Skin?
I’m sorry for the bluntness of that title, but I need to grab your attention somehow. I’ve already written extensively on the dangers of taking Accutane, aka Roaccutane, in general but there are some specific things men need to worry about.
If you haven’t read my post on Accutane, I suggest you do so (Understanding the Role of Oils: Think Biology Before Taking Accutane).
Something I’m sure a lot of guys aren’t writing about is the fact that many of them suffer from erectile dysfunction after being treated with Accutane.
I am not saying that every guy whose complexion suddenly cleared has a little secret, but I am saying that erectile dysfunction is a very common side effect of taking Accutane and it outlives the treatment period by years and can potentially be permanent.
It seems that every time I write about Accutane I end up saying this: Accutane is a serious issue, guys.
Accutane and the Male Reproductive System
… actually, it should just be the reproductive system in general, male or female.
This time however, I am specifically focusing on the guys because I feel that women are more informed about their reproductive system and how Accutane can screw it up.
Women are given lectures, made to sign agreements, tested for pregnancy, and fed contraceptives before they are allowed to take Accutane because it is extremely teratogenic (harmful to a developing fetus). By the end of this ordeal, they know that Accutane is not reproductive-system-friendly.
On the other hand, males get a tiny 6-point font warning about erectile dysfunction burried among the dozens and dozens of other side-effects associated with Accutane.
How Accutane Affects Guys in a Very Guy Way…
Okay, let’s dig right in! Do you know the basic physiological mechanism that causes an erection? Well.. I do.
I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible.
An erection happens when the release of nitric oxide causes dialation of small arteries in the penis. The nitric oxide is released by autonomic neurons or neurons whose signals come from the spinal cord and affect muscles and glands.
The basic thing to get from here is that nitric oxide is important in achieving an erection.
In order to stimulate autonomic neurons, you need to be aroused either physically or mentally. This requires the chemical cooperation of your hippocampus which is among other things, responsible for mood regulation.
So… hippocampus for the motivation and nitric acid for the execution.
Accutane is such a thoroughly devastating culprit that it both reduces the amount of nitric oxide you produce and also prevents your hippocampus from generating new neurons (neurogenesis).
Neurogenesis is one of the problems that causes depression. Additionally, it indirectly distorts neural signaling to your penile arteries making it difficult to achieve erection through mental stimulation.
The decrease in nitric oxide on the other hand, prevents stimulation of the motor neurons responsible for erection.
So basically, accutane attacks both mechanisms that lead to a functional erection.
Bad news for the guys.
Some people who still stand loyally behind Accutane have argued that any sign of depression while taking the drug is due to the anxiety caused by the acne itself.
I recognize that their theory is partly correct, but read my previous post about Accutane and depression so that you can see how the drug causes depression biologically.
On another note, even if that theory is thoroughly correct, imagine what acne and erectile dysfunction combined will do for depression.
Additionally, the side-effects caused by Accutane are sneaky and can either appear during the treatment or months or years afterward. And time-wise, they can be equally as enduring.
Thousands of men complain of permanent impotence after taking Accutane and this quantity may very well be underestimated due to the reluctance of men to admit problems with their sexual performance.
Acne can be extremely emotionally damaging to teenagers and adults alike, but in no way can it compare to the debilitating trauma caused by erectile dysfunction. Accutane can cause ER in men as young as 18.
Treatment of ED After Accutane
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and have taken Accutane, I recommend going to forums and inquiring about it.
Unfortunately, given my own research, I understand that many men who suffer from ED find it difficult to treat and suffer with the disorder for years.
Some fortunate guys find a treatment that works for them but it seems that their search is similar to the search for an acne treatment that led them to Accutane in the first place.
There are a few different treatments available for erectile dysfunction although when it is present in young males, the effectiveness may be different because the available treatment today is meant for age-related ED.
Erectile Dysfunction occurs normally in 10% of adult men (American) between the ages of 40 and 70. For this disorder to occur in young adults or even more tragically, teenagers, is completely abnormal.
Sooooo: If you’re a guy thinking about taking Accutane for your acne, I strongly recommend that you talk to other men who’ve been on the drug (not just your peers, but men who’ve been off it for a few years as well) and ask questions.
Talk to a doctor who knows about the connection between isotretinoin (the active ingredient in Accutane) and erectile dysfunction. Don’t take maybe’s and don’t accept vague answers. This is your health!
1.”Thread: Official Accutane Thread.” All Things Male RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. Nov. 2013.
2. “Accutane Side Effects and Warnings.” DRUG-NEWS: Accutane Side Effects (Isotretinoin) Aka Acutane. N.p., n.d. Web. Nov. 2013.