What Are DHT Blocker Side Effects?

Medically reviewedby Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

DHT is known to be harmful for hair. So naturally, we want to block it. But just what side effects might happen if you are incompatible?

What is DHT?

Androgen receptors convert Testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT helps in the development of specific male characteristics, especially in their puberty stage.

This male sex hormone might be helpful in the early phase but proves to be harmful to the hair on your head. The production of a high level of DHT blocks the nourishment reaching the hair follicle.

hair follicles affected by DHT

This way hair follicle gets starved, making the new hair to be thin and weak. In no time, it will eventually lead to baldness and hair loss.

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What are the side effects of reducing DHT levels?

There are many ways to block and remove DHT, one of them is by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which helps convert testosterone into DHT. Once you restrict the 5AR, you achieve low levels of DHT.

Medical practitioners, in general, recommended these three medications: Dutasteride, Topical Minoxidil, and Finasteride. The issue arises once you lower your DHT levels which can harm your body.

Blocking the DHT will lead to higher levels of both testosterone and estrogen in the body. Research shows this may lead to sexual dysfunction. Some of the side effects are as follows:

  • Lack of libido: Patients noticed that they have experienced a decrease in their sex drive instinct and are not sexually interested in women.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Men have found their erections to be less stiff and can not have another round of intercourse after going down once. They also have penile shrinkage due to weak erection.
  • Tender swollen breasts: The swelling and tenderness are due to the higher level of testosterone and estrogen and the lower level of DHT that causes hormonal imbalance. Due to hormonal imbalance, excess fat accumulates around the breast areas as well.
  • Weak memory: DHT also contributes as a memory enhancer, which will be affected once DHT blockers start blocking it.
  • Weak bones and muscles: DHT is also responsible for building body muscles. This hormone makes men a lot stronger than women. After reducing the DHT, it will cause weaker bones and muscles. Some of these side effects became permanent even after stopping the medication.
  • Premature ejaculation: The casual relationship found between DHT blocker and sexual dysfunction is the ejaculatory volume. As DHT stimulates the growth of the prostate cells, lack of it will cause ejaculation to come too early or too long.
  • Rashes: Some medications can be insensitive to your system, causing your skin to break out. Moreover, your scalp can react to Minoxidil, causing rashes.
  • Nausea: Taking a high dosage of DHT blocker can make you feel sick and lead you to vomit.
  • Darker & thicker hair: As DHT causes hair loss, blocking it will cause the facial and upper body hair to thicken and be dark.
  • Congestive heart failure: Studies have found that having a low level of DHT in the system can cause ischemic heart disease. Medications like Minoxidil can cause higher sodium intake and retain water in the body.

See alternatives to Minoxidil here.

How common are these side effects?

dht side effects

Like most synthetic medicines, DHT blockers have their side effects too. Around 1% of 100 men may experience libido or erection issues as per research.

Clinical trials showed that 3.8% of men showed signs of side effects versus 2.1% of men who took the placebo Minoxidil.

Other studies showed that these side effects stopped once they quit the medicine. They also found a decline in the side effects by dropping to less than 0.3%. These studies show that these medicines are usually well tolerated.


DHT is a natural and healthy process for males to undergo during their puberty.

DHT helps with the development of some bodily functions and male characteristics. Hence, having DHT in the blood is normal. If you wish to avoid hair loss and baldness, DHT sensitivity should be a priority.

Most of the baldness is due to genetics rather than having a high level of DHT. Therefore, the best solution to avoid or reduce the side effects of DHT blockers is to decrease the amount of DHT blockers' intake.

Lower the dosage or better, shift to more natural solutions.

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Additionally, there are some natural herbs and supplements that block DHT. They contain some minerals and vitamins like magnesium and biotin, which can help with hair loss.

These natural DHT blockers do not come with the side effects of a synthetic drug. The most popular ones are saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil, nettle, and pygeon bark.

Relevant reads:


  1. Foley CL, Kirby RS. 5 Alpha-reductase inhibitors: what’s new? Curr Opin Urol. 2003 Jan;13(1):31.
  2. Fertig RM, Gamret AC, Darwin E, Gaudi S. Sexual side effects of 5-α-reductase inhibitors finasteride and dutasteride: A comprehensive review. Dermatol Online J [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2021 Sep 9];23(11). Available from: https://escholarship.org/content/qt24k8q743/qt24k8q743.pdf?t=p44zp0
  3. Di Loreto C, La Marra F, Mazzon G, Belgrano E, Trombetta C, Cauci S. Immunohistochemical Evaluation of Androgen Receptor and Nerve Structure Density in Human Prepuce from Patients with Persistent Sexual Side Effects after Finasteride Use for Androgenetic Alopecia. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 24;9(6):e100237.
  4. Mysore V. Finasteride and sexual side effects. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2012;3(1):62.
  5. McClellan KJ, Markham A. Finasteride: a review of its use in male pattern hair loss. Drugs [Internet]. 1999 Jan [cited 2021 Sep 9];57(1). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/
  6. Length of the human androgen receptor glutamine tract determines androgen sensitivity in vivo. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Aug 6;342(1-2):81–6.
  7. DEFINE_ME [Internet]. [cited 2021 Sep 9]. Available from: https://www.derm.theclinics.com/article/S0733-8635(21)00015-2/fulltext
  8. Zgonc Škulj A, Poljšak N, Kočevar Glavač N, Kreft S. Herbal preparations for the treatment of hair loss. Arch Dermatol Res. 2019 Nov 3;312(6):395–406.
  9. Mechanism of action of herbs and their active constituents used in hair loss treatment. Fitoterapia. 2016 Oct 1;114:18–25.
Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.