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? Poor us!
Well imagine it happening to a man, because it does; it happened to me. It’s called Testosterone.
I was in my early 40’s fit, healthy, happy, very busy climbing the corporate ladder, travelling to exotic countries, working well outside of normal comfort zones. I’d spent time in Oman, Saudi, Iran, Ecuador, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, France, Venezuala, the list goes on. I was loving life.
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 40’s and “that’s normal,” I thought.
It got slowly worse, over 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 some Rugby again, no change. And then it got even worse, I was 45 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, and I was a mess, but I still went to work, my head was OK and I was still doing well. By now clearly something was obviously very wrong and 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 and he went on to say it can be removed by surgery through the nose, but that had risks and hopefully was not necessary so 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. I think he had 2 operations to remove it.
I started on a very low dose of Cabergoline which is a drug used in larger quantities to help Parkinson’s sufferers. More blood tests and there was no real change, double the dose, more blood tests and positive signs, the prolactin was dropping, testosterone on the up, I felt different and I was starting to feel 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 and I had urges, you know those sexual feelings. However, those feelings were now not towards my wife and although I didn’t do anything about them as in seeing someone else, I had to eventually face up to the fact that I was having thoughts about other women.
Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t survive the problem, but I did and everything is good.
It wasn’t the problem itself which caused the marriage to end, but the response I received from my wife when I was ill, you know that “in sickness and in health” part of the wedding vows. It’s not until you become sick that you realise what that actually means to the other person.
Nearly 10 years on with the 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 is that the tablets in higher doses can cause problems with the heart’s valves,
I’m fine, I’m fit-“ish”, in my mid 50’s and happy. I’m in a great relationship, we have loads of sex and I’m normal. Does this horrendous experience make me more tolerant of the female monthly hormone cycle, do I empathise? Not really, sorry ladies, but I’m a bloke.