Every month most of us men go through the ups and downs associated with our partners normal menstrual cycle, the change in hormone balance, the mood swings the personality change, it’s awful isn’t it?
Well imagine it happening to a man, because it does; it happened to me.
I was in my 30’s fit, healthy, happy, very busy climbing the corporate ladder, travelling to exotic countries, working well outside of normal comfort zones. I spent time in Oman, Saudi, Iran, Ecuador, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, France, Venezuala, the list goes on. I loved it.
At the end of every trip I came home to a wife, a nice house, life was good, but things weren’t right, I was losing interest in sex, I was busy, I was in my 30’s and “that’s normal,” I thought.
It got slowly worse, over quite a few years subtle but awful.
Eventually I simply couldn’t get or maintain an erection, I was putting on weight, getting hot flushes, still I ignored it, I was eating crap, no exercise, all simple to remedy I thought.
I started playing football again, no change. And then it got even worse, I was 39 by this time, I was waking up in the middle of the night having had a wet dream, Jesus imagine no erection just a mess on the sheets. My wife was oblivious, she just thought I wasn’t interested in her, which caused conflict, but I was still away a lot.
My penis was almost not there, it was tiny, like a bloody acorn, I had boobs, I was a bloody mess, but I still went to work, my head was OK and I was still doing well, but by now clearly something was obviously very wrong. I finally made an appointment to see the GP.
I was lucky, the guy I saw was straight onto it and he sent me for blood tests; then the wait. A week later a call from the clinic – “we need you to come in and repeat the tests please.”
Now I’m worried, very worried.
I repeat the tests and another week later I go to the clinic and discuss the results. “Your testosterone levels are through the floor and your prolactin is through the roof”. What does that mean? “Well, it could be a tumour, a brain tumour.” “Shit, not me. That doesn’t happen to me. What now?”
I had private medical insurance and within a week I had seen a consultant, an endocrinologist, a hormone expert. MRI scan, CT scan, more bloods, back to the consultant.
Imagine – by now I know nothing apart from there’s a tumour on my brain, he shows me the MRI scan, there it is a 3mm cyst on my pituitary gland, (that’s the one that produces a lot of our hormones). It’s right at the front of the brain just above the nose.
He explained that the tumour was benign – phew, thank God, thank anyone, thank you. He explained it was rare in men, he went on to say it can be removed by surgery through the nose, but that had risks and hopefully was not necessary and he wanted to try medication.
Incidentally Russell Watson, the famous Tenor has the same problem but his was worse, it was growing, and he was in danger of losing his eyesight, so he had I think 2 operations to remove it.
I started on a very low dose of Cabergoline – a drug used in larger quantities to help Parkinson’s sufferers.
More blood tests – no real change, double the dose, more blood tests and positive signs, the prolactin was dropping, testosterone on the up, I felt different, I felt good.
After about 3 months on this dose (two tiny tablets a week) I was better than normal, I was fitter, getting really fit again, I had urges, you know those sexual feelings.
Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t survive the problem, but I did and everything is good, Nearly 20 years on, same dose of cabergoline, annual blood tests, regular MRI scans, oh and now the added ECG check around every five years – this was every year for a while but there was never any sign of any problems so they pushed it out.
The reason for the ECG – the tablets in higher doses can cause problems with the heart’s valves, I’m fine, I’m fit -ish I’m happy. I’m in a great relationship, we have loads of sex, I’m normal.
Does this horrendous experience make me more tolerant of the female monthly hormone cycle, do I empathise? Not really, I’m a bloke.
Written by David – Milton Keynes
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.