Archive | Health

Posts and pages which fall under this category discuss health issues, including those experienced by the author, and health issues that are worthy of popular discussion.

OMG! A Weight Loss Solution that Actually Makes Sense!

Just about every woman I know wants to be thinner. Even women that are thin already want to be thinner. That’s the influence of magazines for women, fashion for women, clothing for women, music for women, and movies with women in them. Thin is in. The pressure to be thin comes from everywhere. It must be hell if you’re a woman who is normal body weight for your bone structure and height. Get thinner anyway. You can always be thinner. Right?

I admit that I’m a health nut. And I’m more interested in women’s health that I am in men’s; probably because a women’s body is far more complex than a man’s. And the more complex the issue, the more that issue peeks my interest. That’s just me.

Alright that’s enough of that. Let’s get to the crux of this post. I stumbled across a weight loss solution  for women that actually makes sense.  No miracle “fat busting” pills or juices, no starvation or rigorous exercise and no voo-woo magic potients. It works permanently so no repeat dieting either. It’s called The Venus Factor because it’s just for women.

The Venus Factor makes sense because it addresses one little known hormone in a woman’s body that sabotages her every effort to maintain or lose weight. Without addressing this hormone, every effort to lose weight by any means will result in failure.

Look at What’s Currently Available to Help Women Lose Weight

Starvation? We already know that doesn’t work. That approach is not only unhealthy, it’s something that a women cannot do on a long-term basis. And as soon as she stops starving herself, the weight comes back. Women want the problem solved once and for all. Short-term solutions are not good enough.

Fad diets? Same problem. They are only effective as long as you are on the diet. Stop the diet and the weight comes right back. And then it’s on to another diet. Just to mention a few of those diets, they are the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet and all of the so-called “celebrity diets”.

The Venus Factor banner woman will belly fatFat-busting pills? Now I’m a believer in Garcinia Cambogia. I saw Dr. Oz’s presentation on fat-busters on TV. The man was excited. He had seen the case studies and the results. Unfortunately there are very few companies who will step up to the plate and offer a Cambogia that meets Dr. Oz’s requirements, which are a minimum of 60% HCA in every capsule of Cambogia. In the rush to make money off of Dr. Oz’s recommendations, there are more sub-standard Cambogia’s on the market than there are effective Cambogia’s that meet or exceed requirements. It’s cheaper for the pill companies to make worthless Cambogia than it is for them to make effective Cambogia.

Many women have purchased sub-standard Cambogia, because it’s less expensive, and they have been disappointed by the results. That disappointment produced doubts about the effectiveness of Cambogia which eventually found it’s way into the news media. There was never anything wrong with Cambogia. The problem was with the manufacturer and their reluctance to make the product effective by bringing the HCA strength up to sixty percent.

But Cambogia has the same problems as the other weight loss solutions. They are temporary. They only keep the fat away as long as you take the pills. Stop taking Cambogia and the weight problem returns. And good Cambogia is expensive. Effective Cambogia can costs as much as $60+/month. That’s right. Sixty dollars plus for a bottle that will last you one month. That’s $720+ per year to keep taking it. Stop taking it and the weight problem returns.

The same applies to other fat-busters like raspberry ketones or Acai berry extract.

 Why is The Venus Factor Different?

Let’s get back to an effective solution which only The Venus Factor offers. John Barban, nutritionist and consultant created The Venus Factor by researching human metabolism for two years. Why did he do this? Because he had helped thousands of women lose weight permanently, but the person closest to him, his only sister, was depressed and grossly overweight due to a recent birth and he did not know how to help her out of her depressed and obese state, even though he is heavily credentialed in women’s health. He had to find help for her.

John discovered that one hormone, which exists in both men and women, regulates metabolism and appetite and decides when fat will be stored or burned as energy. It controls the hunger drive by signaling the brain that food is wanted. That hormone is leptin. Woman have twice as much leptin as men. So they are far more capable of losing weight than are men. But the key to losing weight is in controlling  leptin. Because, as you shall see, leptin can be your worst enemy.

The bad news is that women are three times less responsive to leptin than men. Overweight women tend to be leptin resistant. And that is why women struggle with weight more than men. Traditional diet solutions tend to decrease leptin thus making it harder to lose weight. When leptin in the body decreases, metabolism drops which compounds any efforts to lose weight. That’s why traditional diets work for a little while, but once dieting stops, the weight comes right back with a vengeance. After a diet leptin is low, metabolism is low, which is a perfect environment for storing fat.

Low leptin = signals increased hunger, metabolism and energy are low. This is bad.

High leptin = signals decreased hunger, metabolism and energy are high. This is good.

Let’s Take a Look at What Wikipedia Says About Leptin

Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells which regulates total body fat by regulating both the sensation of hunger in the brain and energy expenditure in cells throughout the body. When the total fat stores reach a certain level, leptin is secreted, and circulating leptin triggers receptors in the brain which leads to decreased hunger and thus decreased food-seeking behavior, as well as increased energy expenditure in peripheral cells.”

In other words, when the body detects that fat stores are low, leptin decreases and that signals the brain that food is needed in order to replenish fat stores. Metabolism is also decreased, which aids in fat storage because low metabolism (low energy) burns less fat. When fat stores are high, leptin is high and that signals the brain that more food for fat storage is not necessary. Metbolism is also high because there is plenty of fat to burn for energy. Leptin plays a primaryPhoto of slender womans waist after losing weight role in telling you when to eat and when not to eat.

However, in severly overweight or obese individuals, leptin levels in the blood stream are totally out of whack. This is called leptin resistence. Leptin gets so confused by excessive fat storage that it remains at a low level all the time thus signaling the brain that more food is needed when food is not needed (binge eating). Metabolism stays low so little to no fat is being burned for energy and the individual keeps putting on more weight, which makes the leptin resistance situation worse instead of better. Managing weight becomes a downward spiral.

One reason why women gain the weight back quickly after a diet ends, is because fat stores are low and leptin signals the brain that food is needed. Metabolism is also low, energy is low, so whatever is eaten during this period is stored as fat. The solution is learn how to control leptin to be your friend instead of your worse enemy. Leptin levels can be controlled by adding specific foods to your diet that stimulate leptin production.

Child birth introduces more complicating factors for women. During pregnancy, the female body puts on more weight for two reasons – first to feed and store extra fat for both mother and child, and secondly to cushion or protect the baby with a protecting layers of fat in the belly area .

So how can women make leptin their friend instead of the enemy? This is the substance of John Barban’s research in The Venus Factor. If you can control leptin levels, you can control your need to eat and boost your metabolism or energy at the same time. The Venus Factor focuses on three key areas.

1) Control the effects of leptin signals to the brain by adding certain foods into your diet that stimulate leptin. When leptin is high, your brain is being told that you are not hungry. And your metabolism is also high so you have more energy.

2) Eat what you want to eat. But avoid foods that are “leptin killers”. Certain foods, like those high in salt and granulated sugar, decrease leptin which signals your brain that you are hungry. It’s no secret that food manufacturers put excessive amounts of salt and sugar in the foods that they sell in order to trigger our brains to want more.

3) Leptin also responds to exercise. But not just any exercise. The Venus Factor makes a key distinction between exercise that is appropriate for men, and those exercises that are appropriate for women.  When women are determined to lose weight, they often exercise rigorously like a man. Women should never exercise like a man. Men exercise rigorously for  body-building and cardio using free weights to build muscle quickly.

What is appropriate for women are “soft” exercises primarily for toning muscles. Rigorous exercise lowers leptin which increases the desire to eat. That’s okay for the body-builder who will store that excess food as new muscle tissue. But women do not need lower levels of leptin because additional food intake will be stored as fat, assuming that they are not female body-builders who are trying to build muscle through continuous hard exercise.

Finally, according to The Venus Factor program, women can eat what they want but must avoid foods that lower leptin while adding foods to their diet that increase leptin. By doing this, they will lower the desire to eat when they are not really hungry and they will have more energy due to increased metabolism. Furthermore, light exercise will increase leptin which increases energy. That’s a win-win situation.

Let’s Summarize

So Scott, this sounds like a product promotion. Are you promoting this? You bet I am! Everything I post on this blog is a promotion of something whether it’s promoting social signals on your website in order to boost your traffic OR promoting putting procrastination aside in favor of taking action because the latter will take you where you want to go. I promote outstanding ideas and books. I promote taking your headphones off and spending more time thinking. I promote positive thinking and the Law of Attraction over negative thinking because a positive attitude will turn your life around. I have written posts on all these subjects.

The Venus Factor banner of woman on a beachTake a look once more at the options for losing weight that are available to women. Pills, juices, starvation diets, soup diets, fad diets, plant extracts and fat-busters. They all work for awhile. But what happens when woman stop taking this stuff or are broke from buying it? The weight comes back. Not true with The Venus Factor program.

Here’s a shocker. Sounds like an expensive program, right? I mean two years of planning and research from a degreed nutritionist? Nope. Just $47 for a 12-week program delivered on video and DVD, with support options. No cheap ebooks. I won’t spoil your surprise by telling you about all the free bonuses that come with the program. And there’s a 60-day guarantee. If you don’t like the program or don’t see dramatic results in 60 days, just submit a refund request. Do you know any woman who would not trade the equivalent of a tank of gas in her car for lasting, long-term, natural, weight loss results without having to repeat the process again and again when the weight comes back? That’s my point. There are no other programs like The Venus Factor. It’s a one-of- a- kind.

Now go watch the video. It’s a real eye-opener and well presented. The link below will take you there. Don’t worry. You aren’t committing to anything by watching the video. It’s good information, even for men.

The Venus Factor Video Presentation

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The Testosterone Connection – Part III

Many of you have requested an update to the post, “Testosterone Connection Part II“. This series of posts began with the post, “Is “Sex Possible after Prostate Gland Surgery”. That post was followed by the post, ” Prostate Surgery and Sex – the Testosterone Connection” and  finally the post, “The Testosterone Connection Part II“.

The whole series is about my personal experience with prostate cancer – a subject that most bloggers would not touch because of the personal nature of the information. I was hesitant to write on this subject. The reason why I did write these revealing, personal experiences is because I wanted to do something to help eliminate the fear of prostate cancer that most men carry with them for the majority of their lives. Much negative and false information can be found on this subject on the Internet. I wanted to set the record straight and help others in the process. Besides, I have no fear of criticism by others. My life has always been an open book. I’ve been accused for most of my life of “shooting from the hip”. Some people find that abrasive while others appreciate my honesty. So I told the story as it happened, with no fluff and nothing hidden. And I’ll do the same in this post in order to bring you up-to-date.

What Has Been Happening Since Testosterone Part II?

So here’s an update on my experience with testosterone supplementation. It has been an interesting journey. As you know, once a man’s prostate gland is removed, he can produce precious little testosterone. So supplementation is necessary.

There is no other hormone in a man’s body that is as important as testosterone. A male simply cannot live without it. It regulates everything from your heart to blood pressure, mood, energy, and most other vital organ functions. Low testosterone levels will even shorten a male’s lifespan, make him prone to diabetes, depression, heart failure, organ failure, memory loss, and a host of other diseases and life-threatening conditions. Low testosterone, best known as Low-T, is not an option. You must maintain testosterone levels within a youthful range of 300-600 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter) if you are to have any hope of living a normal life.

Fortunately, there are several options for boosting Low-T . There are many prescription products available. But most if not all of them are new and enjoy brand status, which allows manufacturers to charge whatever they want for these products for at least 7 years after being introduced to the market.  At this point in time, there are no generic testosterone supplement products.

There are a number of plant and food extracts advertised on the Internet as “testosterone boosters”. Tribulus Terrestris is a plant extract that is popular among body builders. But all of these concoctions have been found in the test lab to be totally worthless for boosting testosterone.

Androgel and Axiron are two brand gels that are applied daily to the skin. They are expensive only about 20% of the product is absorbed through the skin, with the other 80% being wasted. A good medical insurance policy with a prescription drug plan, like mine, will let you off the hook for a $50 monthly co-pay for these products. Brand prescriptions carry the highest co-pay on any medical insurance policy. That would be $600/year for one prescription product,  like Androgel, where 80% of the product is wasted. I chose not to go this route.

How Did I Choose to Supplement my Low-T ? 

Testosterone can be injected into muscle mass using a syringe – normally your thigh or buttocks. This alternative cost nothing. Even though I visit my local clinic once per month to have a nurse inject testosterone into a buttocks cheek, I was surprised to learn that my visit and injection cost me nothing. I’ve never received anything free from my local clinic. So this was a shock.

You can be taught to self-inject if you choose. In that event, you will be mailed pre-loaded syringes and will deliver the testosterone into your thigh muscle (since you cannot reach your butt) once every 30 days.

I have self-injected before, but not testosterone. Once you lose your prostate gland and adjacent nerve bundles, a male can no longer get an erection. It’s the loss of the nerve bundles adjacent to the prostate gland that causes this. If the prostate gland is removed and the adjacent nerve bundles are left intact, there is no problem. But these nerve bundles are normally removed as a precaution since it is likely that they are cancerous.

That means that you either give up your sex life, or find an option that will produce an erection. I covered all these options in the post “Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery?”. I chose to inject prostaglandin into the side of my penis prior to the sex act and watch the miracle take place. That option lasted for a couple of months and then I decided on an implant, which is also discussed in the same post. So needles don’t bother me.

And the Results of Testosterone Injections Monthly?

Injections are cheap. And visiting my local clinic once a month really is not a bother. My number one complaint with this option is that the results are inconsistent.  Since testosterone controls a man’s mood, demeanor, energy level, appetite, sleep, and just about everything else, consistency is important. What you do NOT want is testosterone highs and lows  that make you feel like a yo-yo with regard to the characteristics that I just mentioned.

This is what happened, and is still happening. Remember, that the normal range of testosterone in a man’s body is 300-600 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). My testosterone level was at 195 when I started the monthly injections. I was receiving 200 mg. injections per month.

When you first begin injections, the doctor does not test your testosterone level for about 3 months. Then a test of your resulting testosterone level is conducted. It’s a simple blood test. My first test showed that my testosterone level after three months of injections was a little over 300. That’s good. At least I was within range.

Two months later, a second blood test for my testosterone level was performed. This time my testosterone level was 110; lower than the 195 level that I had before I even began testosterone supplementation! These are the highs and lows that I referred to. They drive you nuts. Remember, that with my testosterone level swinging all over the charts, so is my demeanor, my mood, my energy level, and my appetite and sleep. That was a real problem and tough to deal with.

But there’s more. In order to achieve a more consistent testosterone level, the doctor raised my monthly dosage from 200 mg. to 300 mg.. I only received the 300 mg. dosage once. A blood test performed eight days after the injection showed my testosterone level to be 776. That’s way out of the normal range! They had inadvertently overdosed me.

My body didn’t like that. And what does the body do when it doesn’t like something that has been administered internally? It does whatever it can to get rid of the offending substance. Use your imagination here. It comes out the other end; violently. I had diarrhea and stomach cramps for a week and felt like I had the flu. It wasn’t fun.

So in his infinite wisdom, the doctor reduced my testosterone injections from 300 mg. to 250 mg.; 50 mg. less than the previous injection and 50 mg. more than what I originally started with.  I’ve only had one of those injections to-date. My testosterone level will be tested again on Tuesday September 17th. But I can tell you that one day after the injection of 250 mg. the same things happened that happened after the 300 mg. injection, although the sickness and diarrhea were of shorter duration.

So Now What?

The highs and lows of testosterone supplementation are not doing my body and demeanor any good. I’m done with the experimentation and I’m giving up on the injections. No more being a guinea pig. I do not recommend this option to other men.

I’m going to try the daily testosterone patch, which is just like the patch that folks use to stop smoking. It’s brand and it’s expensive, with a $50 prescription co-pay every month. And just like the testosterone gels, 80% of the product is not absorbed by the skin and is wasted. But it will smooth out the highs and lows of the injections and perhaps allow me to maintain a consistent level of testosterone that is within range. I’ll start those next month and report back to anyone who is interested.

My original statements in this long series of posts still hold true. Men have nothing to fear from prostate issues and cancer as long as the condition is discovered early via yearly PSA tests. The surgery is uneventful. Incontinence after the surgery is rare.  The best option for sex is to get an implant. They are very unobtrusive and convenient. Who else can “pump it up” whenever they like and for as long as they like? On the downside, the surgery is pretty tough. Swelling. Don’t plan on sitting down for a month.

The testosterone connection can be handled. There are many options. I do not recommend injections. If you do nothing for Low-T, you will die at an early age. This is not one of the options.

The references below, refer you back to the long series of posts that I have written on this subject in case you found yourself in the middle of the subject with no background information. There’s also a nice photo gallery.

The Testosterone Connection Part IV will be presented once I have some experience with the testosterone patch.  Hopefully, that will be the final solution and the end of the story. Until that time, I’ll answer the one question that you all are dying to know the answer to – the sex is still good. There, I said it. Are you happy now?

 

References

Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery? – published 1/13/2013

Prostate Surgery and Sex – The Testosterone Connection – published 2/27/2013

The Testosterone Connection Part II – published 3/28/2013

Prostate/Surgery/Sex Photo Gallery

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The Testosterone Connection – Part II

Background

It’s been a month since I originally posted “Prostate Surgery and Sex – the Testosterone Connection” on March 27, 2013.  Many of you have asked that I keep you updated on this subject so that you can be informed of the “continuing saga” on testosterone supplementation. Thus, this post.

In the earlier post, we left off with my having to wait until July before my urologist would permit testosterone supplementation. My first blood test, taken to determine how low my testosterone level was, returned a result of 195 when the normal range for men is 300-600. Obviously, I was in tough shape. I had decided to explore “natural”, non-prescription testosterone “boosters” on my own. These included specific food items as well as non-prescription food supplements that were known boosters and could be purchased at stores or websites like GNC.

What Has Changed In the Last Month?

The master plan that I outlined in the last post has been changed. My urologist allowed me to begin the testosterone replacement program on March 4, 2013. I was miserable and ready to cut a large hole in the lake ice and jump in it. Since male testosterone regulates just about everything in your body, including your metabolism, mood, demeanor, and cognitive abilities, Low-T for any length of time can really make you feel miserable 24/7. That’s where I was at. I needed help and I needed it fast.

One interesting fact that I learned while I was interviewing with the urologist’s PA (physician assistant) is that not all men who are experiencing severely low testosterone levels (below 200) are necessarily sensitive to the symptoms of Low-T. In fact, she explained that the majority of Low-T patients that she treats do not feel any different after testosterone supplementation than they did before they started supplementation.

I couldn’t believe it! I was ready to jump off a cliff. I went through a period of approximately four months when I did absolutely nothing. I couldn’t even sit at the computer to compose a blog. I simply had no interest. I had no interest in doing anything. Even watching TV was painful. My mind was functioning about as effectively as a turnip’s. I had chronic fatigue. The nurse could not tell me why I am affected so negatively by Low-T. And now that I’m on the road to recovery, I don’t care. My advice to readers is – you don’t ever want to go there. If you think you have Low-T, get it tested and do something about it. Discuss how you feel with your doctor. Only men over 50 or men who have had other issues or surgery affecting male sex organs need be concerned.

A word of caution – most Low-T conditions are diagnosed by physicians as depression. When I originally described how I felt to my personal physician, he said I was depressed and prescribed an anti-depressant medication. I took that for a couple of months as he gradually increased the dosage. By the end of the second month, I went from chronic fatigue to zero energy and I was sleeping 22 hours a day. That’s when I threw the medication out and demanded a blood test to check my testosterone level.

The symptoms of Low-T and depression are practically identical. If you suspect Low-T, get the test. It’s cheap, easy, and your insurance will pay for it. So do it.

Testosterone Supplementation Options

The “natural” testosterone boosters that I mentioned above which includes food items and non-prescription supplements proved to be ineffective. I still include the food items in my diet. But I’ve pretty much given up on the non-prescription supplements.

The prescription skin patches and gels, like Androderm or Androgel, are expensive since they require a prescription and currently enjoy “brand” status. All new prescriptions receive “brand” status for seven years after their introduction to the market. That means that a particular prescription has no competition for seven years. The drug manufacturer can charge whatever they like. After the seven years of brand status expires, other drug companies can manufacturer cheaper generic clones of another drug companies product if they so choose. Androgel, Androderm, and Axiron are all “brand”. My medical insurance would pick up the majority of the cost of the drug. But that leaves a $60/month co-pay for me, which didn’t excite me much.

On top of the expense, the products that you apply to the skin as patches or gels deliver 20% of the product as absorbed testosterone and 80% of the product is wasted or never absorbed.

There are only three ways to get testosterone into the body. Trans-dermal – absorbed through the skin. Trans-lingual – absorbed through the gums in your mouth with the use of a lozenge. Or testosterone can be injected into muscle tissue using a needle and syringe. I opted for the latter because it’s cheap and effective.

 Here’s How the Injections Work

I had originally chosen to self-administer the injections. That means that I would give myself a shot every month and the urologist would teach me what to do. Doctors actually permit self-injecting all kinds of medicines as long as you have a prescription and receive instruction on what to do. The syringes and testosterone serum can be purchased at my local Walgreens Pharmacy with a prescription.

Once the details of self-injecting were explained to me, I chose to opt-out of self-injecting. The testosterone must be injected into a muscle. It was not something that you injected under the skin. Specifically, testosterone must be injected into either your thigh, or your buttocks. Obviously, if I was going to self-inject, the buttocks was not an option.

The needle was huge. The nurse said that was because synthetic testosterone is oily and thicker than most injectables. So it needs a bigger needle. To make matters worse, this huge needle had to be inserted full-length into the thigh muscle. Then you had to pull the plunger back a bit and check for blood in the syringe in order to insure that you had not hit a blood vessel. If you did hit a blood vessel, you have to withdraw the needle and start all over again. I had performed injections before. But this was ugly. No thanks.

I bent over her examining table, dropped my pants, and she pumped 200 mg. of pure testosterone into my buttocks in a flash. That was that.

In April, I have an appointment at my local clinic for another injection. I get an injection every month for the rest of my life. I don’t mind shots. And driving to town once a month doesn’t bother me either. I’ve already seen what life looks like without these injections and it’s not pretty. So I’ll gladly take the injections.

My Theory of What Happens In the Body After a Testosterone Injection

No one has ever explained this to me. But I’m not your average patient. I like to know what is going on with my health, and medications that are given to me. I like to be part of the “team”.

Here’s what I think happens when a person receives an injection of 200 mg. of synthetic testosterone as a supplement. These injections are pre-planned approximately 30 days apart. So figuring this out should be pretty obvious.

The 200 mg. injection is obviously an overdose. After you receive the injection, your body begins to utilize and deplete the testosterone. So if one were to perform a blood test daily or weekly to determine the level of free testosterone as a specific point in time, this gradual depletion of available testosterone could be charted.

So the objective is to NOT have the level of free testosterone in the blood drop out of the bottom of the acceptable range for men, which is 300-600, before it’s time for the next injection of testosterone. If one does drop out of the acceptable range, then the injection quantity needs to be bumped up to 250 mg. or 300 mg. or whatever until the patient can make it to the next injection without dropping below 300.

I my case, a blood test taken three weeks after my first injection showed that I had moved from 195 into the normal range of 300-600, but barely. My result was 311. I had gained 116 points. But considering that the target level is a consistent 450, I have a ways to go yet.

Fortunately, the change in my symptoms is gradual. I don’t want you to think that I’m ready to tear someones head off when I get that 200 mg. blast of testosterone. The changes in metabolism and other idiosyncrasies that I have mentioned are gradual. I noticed the subtle change over the days after the injection and I noticed subtle changes over time as I was on my way back down to 311.

For those who are interested, testosterone is measured in nonograms per decileter or ng/dL. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce. A deciliter measures fluid volume that is 1/10 of a liter. A liter is a little bigger than a quart. So there you go. The normal free testosterone range starts at 300 ng/dL.

And the Results?

How to I feel? Pretty darn good. I’m doing things. I’m back to the point of being engaged with my life. Feels good. I have a long way to go yet. I need to get back on my Bowflex and tone up the muscles that have been dormant for so many months. And I need to walk or jog to build my endurance back to what it was. Low-T had caused me to waste away for about six months before I realized that something was wrong.

The bad news? After receiving that 200 mg. dose of testosterone a month ago, my testosterone level is low again. It tested at 311 this week. A bit higher than the original 195 but no where near the 450 mid-range where it should be. It likely dropped off gradually from the day that I received the injection. I’m due for anther blast of testosterone on April 12. Eventually, my urologist will figure out the dosage so that I don’t experience these highs and lows. I already feel my energy level declining. Consequently, I’m pretty excited about that shot on April 12th. I feel like a junky.

Stay tuned.

 

References

Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery? – Part 0 to this post published 1/13/2013

Prostate Surgery and Sex – The Testosterone Connection – Part 1 to this post published 2/27/2013

Prostate/Surgery/Sex Photo Gallery – photo gallery published 1/13/2013

WebMD is a great source for information on Low-T.

 

 

 

 

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Prostate Surgery and Sex – the Testosterone Connection

What amazed me most about testosterone? Three things. First of all, I thought that it was one of those things that we could ignore. I had no idea that when the hormone was low, that it could make you feel like a truck ran over you. Secondly, doctors don’t like to talk about it. And lastly, everyone on the Internet is talking about it, for some reason, and has a product to fix low testosterone issues. Go figure. Why now?

Background

This post is part 2 to the post titled “Is Sex Possible After Prostate Surgery?” It might interest you to know that that particular post was the most widely read out of the forty or so articles that I have posted in the last three years. I think that happened for a few reasons. The article is based on a real life experience. The best blog posts are those that relate real life experiences.  People want to read about real life experiences. The topic for Part 1 is one that most authors will not talk about openly; prostate cancer and its impact on sex.

Part 1 covered PSA testing for men and prostate cancer diagnosis which leads to prostate gland removal (which is just one of the several options for treating prostate cancer). The article went on to discuss the impact of prostate surgery on a man’s ability to have normal, and meaningful sexual intercourse after prostate surgery. Again, there are options. But the one that I discussed in detail required  another surgery to install a penile implant when normal erections are no longer possible.

That’s where we left off in article 1. At that time, I thought that was the end of the story. But it’s not the end.  Again, I did not anticipate what was to follow.

I had my prostate gland removed in July 2010. Two years passed before my spouse and I considered options for restoring normal sexual relations. But that’s not the subject that I want to address in this post. Something happened to ME that was very subtle and practically unnoticeable.

I became a different person.

I’m a typical type A personality. Hyper-active, always up-beat, on the go all the time, boundless energy, I get things done. My father told me that there are three types of people in the world. Those that watch things happen, those that make things happen, and those that wonder, what happened? In my family, I’m the make it happen guy. When my wife or kids get stuck, they come to Dad because they know that he’ll find a solution or a work-around, make a gut decision, and then he’ll make it happen.

Over those two years since my surgery, I not only gradually lost my energy, I lost my interest in things that I used to enjoy doing. My focus was gone. Thinking and concentrating became an effort. I slept more. I felt depressed all the time, which has never been typical for me.

I put up with this for quite a long time. And then I had to do something because it was driving me crazy and I couldn’t stand it anymore. So I went to talk to my family doctor, whose specialty is internal medicine. He said that I was depressed, which I found hard to believe. But I had  no ideas or theories to offer.  So I accepted his recommendation to take a prescription anti-depressant medication.

That lasted for about two months. The medication slowed me down even more. I would get up in the morning, have breakfast, and then go back to bed again. I would wake up for lunch, have lunch, and then take a nap. By 2 P.M. in the afternoon, I felt like I could do something, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I threw the rest of the prescription pills in the garbage and decided that depression was not my problem.

So What Is the Problem?

You know when something is not right with your body or mind. We all know when we feel good or when something just isn’t “clicking”. We may take something or do something to feel better but often it doesn’t work and leaves us still guessing what the problem might be. I knew something was wrong. But I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

In desperation, I used my symptoms as search terms and started searching the Internet for the solution to the way that I felt.  And something very interesting started to reveal itself.

The Testosterone Connection

I’ve heard of it, but what is it? I knew it was a male hormone and had something to do with sex drive. But what does that have to do with me and my problem? I didn’t have a problem with my sex drive.

Testosterone is a hormone made by our bodies and is responsible for the normal growth and development of the male sex organs, and for maintenance of other sexual characteristics. In men, testosterone is produced in the testicles, the reproductive glands that also produce sperm. The amount of testosterone produced by the testicles is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

But women also have testosterone. A woman’s ovaries produce both testosterone and estrogen. Relatively small quantities of testosterone are released into her bloodstream by the ovaries and adrenal glands. In addition to being produced by the ovaries, estrogen is also produced by the body’s fat tissue. These sex hormones are involved in the growth, maintenance, and repair of reproductive tissues. But that’s another subject. Let’s get back to testosterone in men.

Normal  effects of testosterone in men may include:

    1. Growth and maturation of prostate, and other male sex organs
    2. Development of male hair distribution, such as facial hair
    3. Changes in body muscle mass and strength and fat distribution
    4. Sex drive and sexual function
    5. Mood and energy level
    6. Bone strength

What does testosterone do in the body?

The testosterone hormone is raging in men when they are approximately ages 15-25. The same is true for a woman’s primary sex hormone, estrogen. Although her sex hormones peak a little later than a man’s; usually until she is 30-35. There is a reason for that. The sex drive during that period goes nuts. A Higher Power determined that it’s time for humans to think about procreating. So we have a built-in mechanism that triggers our bodies and minds to give more thought to sex and procreation (producing offspring). That’s how our species sustains itself over the long term.

What I found to be interesting is that males begin to lose 1%-2% of their testosterone production per year beginning sometime in their 40’s. The process continues into old age. This process causes men to slow down and feel old. Normally, this whole thing doesn’t bother most men. Some don’t even notice it. They feel that it’s natural to slow down in old age and become less active and more sedentary.

A small percentage of men, like myself, cannot tolerate this. I’m sure that you have all met men in their 60’s who are go-getters and have minds that are sharp as a tack. That’s the type that I’m talking about.

But then I read during my Internet searches that men who have had their prostate gland removed produce an average of 13% less testosterone than normal. And that’s in addition to the 1%-2% testosterone loss that a man will experience beginning sometime in his 40’s. Yikes!! I decided that I needed to look into the symptoms of low testosterone (Low-T).

Here are those symptoms of Low-T in no particular order:

    1. Chronic fatigue
    2. Feeling depressed
    3. Lack of focus
    4. Loss of interest
    5. Decrease in libido (sex drive)
    6. Decrease in strength and endurance
    7. Require more sleep

I Found the Problem!

These symptoms described my problem exactly! I had no idea that Low-T normally follows prostate surgery. And I had no idea  what Low-T symptoms were. I just knew that I felt lousy enough that I had to keep pestering this issue until I found a solution.

All of these symptoms crept up on me slowly over two years until the situation became unbearable. I confronted my urologist and asked him what we were going to do about this problem. I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t as excited as I was about my discovering the probable cause of my feeling of misery.

I had already taken matters into my own hands by having my family doctor test my free testosterone level. It was a dismal 195. The normal range for men is 300-600. This test confirmed that I was experiencing the symptoms of Low-T and that my life would not get any better until I was treated with a testosterone supplement.

But my urologist explained that there’s a big problem. That suggestion scared the hell out of me because I had no intention of living like a vegetable for the rest of my life.

The problem is that giving testosterone to a person who has had prostate cancer (or any cancer) is like throwing gasoline on a fire (his words). If there is one cancer cell still running around in my blood stream, testosterone feeds that cancer and makes it worse. Cancer loves testosterone. Go figure. The one substance that a man needs in order to feel and act like the man that he is supposed to be (and I’m not referring to sex) is the same substance that cancer’s feed on.

On a side note, women, that applies to you too. Cancer in a woman feeds on estrogen.

But there is also an up- side. Studies have shown that normal testosterone levels contribute to healthy men in other important ways. Normal testosterone levels are necessary in men because testosterone plays a key role in regulating the heart, preventing diabetes, and regulating the lipids in the blood stream in order to thwart obesity and metabolic syndrome. Testosterone also helps to prevent osteoporosis in men. And the real clincher – studies have shown that men with normal testosterone levels live longer than men with Low-T.

So it’s a two-edged sword. In a  nutshell, if I treat what is causing me to feel miserable daily, I risk cancer again if a cancer cell is still floating around in my blood stream. But I’ll live longer and my quality of life will be much improved. If I do nothing, I’ll die sooner, I get to feel miserable for the rest of my life, I’m more likely to get fat or get diabetes, a heart attack, or osteoporosis, but I’ll avoid feeding any cancers that may be lurking in my blood stream. What a marvelous deal!

My urologist’s position is this. He has been testing my PSA for almost two years to insure that, when he performed the surgery on my prostate gland, that he left no cancer cells behind. All of my PSA tests have produced undetectable results – that’s good. Once I reach the two year mark, which will be July 2013, he has no issue with treating me with a prescription medication for Low-T, and continuing the PSA test in order to monitor any potential cancer threat. Now that’s an offer that I could not refuse.  Although this course of action does require that I feel miserable for the next four months (March-June).

I want this to be clear. There are many urologists and doctors who will not give testosterone supplements to a former cancer patient. As doctors, they do not want the risk. When this happens, and you are determined that you are willing to take the risk of another cancer in order to get your life back, find another doctor.

I’ve outlined the trade-offs. Like most things in our lives, it is not straight-forward. There are risks despite what decision you make. Unfortunately, the “C” word scares the daylights out of most people. So you have to ask yourself, is the risk of contracting a cancer that may either be treatable or terminal, worth your being able to lead a normal, fulfilling, healthy, and longer life?

Before you answer that question, remember that your doctor will be monitoring your blood in search of PSA (prostate specific antigen). That is the antigen that your body produces when prostate cancer has been present in your body. Other cancers do not stimulate the production of PSA. They may not be detectable via a blood test. The idea here is that, since you have had prostate cancer, the introduction of a testosterone supplement is far more likely to stimulate one of those cancer cells IF ONE EXIST ANYWHERE IN YOUR BODY.

Personally, cancer has never scared me to death. So the decision for me is a “no-brainer”. I learned a long time ago that it is foolish and a waste of time to fear and worry about something that is totally outside your control. If I am to die of some form of cancer, there is absolutely nothing that I (personally) can do about that.

So What is the Plan?

The plan is to wait until two years after my prostate surgery, which will be July 2013, and then begin testosterone supplementation. For the months March-June, I will pursue “natural” testosterone supplements. There are many foods and plant extracts that stimulate testosterone production. My hope is that using “natural supplements” will do the job and I may not need prescription supplements come July. With success and no surprises, that should be the end of the story. Stay tuned.

Foods that boost low testosterone:

    1.  Oysters
    2. Lean beef
    3. Beans
    4. Poultry
    5. Cottage cheese
    6. Eggs
    7. Broccoli
    8. Cabbage
    9. Brussel sprouts
    10. Garlic

Natural testosterone boosters:

These are mostly supplements that athletes and body-builders take to increase testosterone and build muscle. There are many. Some are very good and some are just “snake oil”. I won’t mention specific brand names because I do not endorse any. Use your best judgment when purchasing. There are some very good products available but you really have to dig deep to separate the good ones from the useless ones. In my research, I noticed that substances that stimulate testosterone are often coupled with natural steroidal properties. These are often plant or seed extracts from exotic places such as South American or Africa.

Fenugreek is a spice that can be found in most spice cabinets.  A 2011 study at the Australian Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine found that men aged 25 to 52 who took a fenugreek extract twice daily for six weeks scored 25% higher on tests gauging libido levels than those who took a placebo. It boosted testosterone by 25%! They didn’t specify dosage in the article. So I checked other sources to see what a normal capsule of fenugreek contains; 2,000 mg. In many Asian cultures where fenugreek is common in their diet, it is thought to be an aphrodisiac.

One interesting fact that attests to the safety of fenugreek in the diet is that it is still used today to stimulate breast milk production in mothers who are having a hard time nursing their babies.

Prescription Testosterone Supplementation

The primary prescription products are Androgel, Androderm, and Axiron. Consult your urologist before using any of these products. Supplements are usually gels, creams, or patches. Injections are also available from your doctor.

One important characteristic of these products is that they are applied to the skin; usually the shoulders and back. Skin-to-skin contact of the application site with another person can transfer the medication to that person. This is particularly bad if testosterone is transferred to a woman. This can be harmful to your partner. If you plan to have skin-to-skin contact with your partner, take a thorough shower first.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I want to summarize the important points that I made in both posts on the subject of Prostate Cancer/Surgery/and Sex.

  1. Early detection of prostate cancer via scheduled PSA testing (at least once per year) is mandatory for men after the age of 40.
  2. Prostate cancer is rarely terminal. There are multiple options for treatment.
  3. Even with radical prostatectomy, multiple options are available to insure that normal sexual relations are realistic.
  4. Expect a prostatectomy to reduce testosterone levels. However, testosterone supplementation, whether via natural products or prescription products, can resolve this situation. Consult with your doctor.
  5. 90% of men with penile implants agree that sex is better with the implant than it was before the implant. Sex on demand, with a sustainable erection for as long as desired, is a desirable side-effect of an implant. The satisfaction rate among partners is even higher that that of men who have had prostate surgery. This is not possible without the implant.
  6. Although the procedures that I have outlined do come with inconveniences, the final outcome, and a positive attitude can produce rewarding and satisfying results, and even some benefits.

References

Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery? – Part 1 to this post published 1/13/2013

Prostate/Surgery/Sex Photo Gallery – photo gallery published 1/13/2013

WebMD is a great source for information on Low-T.

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Is Sex Possible After Prostate Gland Surgery?

I’m a cancer survivor. I write this post for men who live with the constant fear that someday, their joy for living will be interrupted by the threat of prostate cancer. One in six men will be impacted by prostate cancer sometime during their lives. One in thirty-four will die unnecessarily from prostate cancer.

This is an important subject, for which there is little information available anywhere; the Internet included. I searched for personal experiences and testimonials that could have enlightened me on this subject, and found none. Plenty of medical and scientific information can be found. But I wanted to hear the patient’s side of the story. Since I’m unabashed and have no fear of discussing any subject, I’ll ensure that there is at least one testimonial on the Internet that other men can use to learn how prostate cancer will impact them, and I’ll also remove some of the myths of having prostate cancer.

I apologize for the length of this discussion. However, upon finishing this post, you will have detailed “insider” information that may well qualify you as an expert on the subject of prostate surgery and its impact on a man’s ability to be sexually active. Again, it’s important that men know this information and do not face their prostate cancer with unwarranted fear.

The photo gallery that accompanies this post can be found —>Here<—.

The PSA Test

My personal physician has always been thorough in maintaining all aspects of my health. He saved my life by conducting yearly PSA tests for prostate issues. I didn’t even know he was doing these tests until, two years ago, he showed me a chart of my PSA tests over time. My PSA level was rising slowly and had exceeded 4.0, the danger zone.

He advised me to see a urologist, which I did.

Other factors can increase PSA in the blood stream. Inflammation in the body can raise your PSA. So the first thing that my urologist did was to prescribe large doses of acetaminophen for ten days to rule out inflammation.  My PSA remained high.

A latent infection in the body can boost PSA to unacceptable levels. My urologist gave me an antibiotic for ten days to rule this factor out as causing high PSA. This procedure also failed to bring down my PSA.

Biopsy – The Final Test

With those two potential causes of high PSA ruled out, the only way to determine if I had early stage prostate cancer was to biopsy the prostate gland. This is a fairly simple procedure that does not require hospitalization, surgery, or pain. It takes about thirty minutes and is normally performed right in the doctor’s examination room.

The doctor gave me a mild sedative and then inserted a combination camera and small needle into my anus while I laid on my side on the examination table. If I ever wondered what the inside of my bowel looks like, I found out by watching the doctors LCD examination display. I opted for watching a program on TV.

The prostate gland lies against the intestinal wall near your pelvic floor. So it is quite easy to gather biopsy material from it without surgery or making incisions. The small needle gathers the biopsy material from multiple locations of the prostate gland. I heard several snap sounds as samples were taken but felt almost nothing.

Men have nothing to fear from a prostate gland biopsy. It is not painful, nor debilitating. There is no recovery period necessary. Two saline enemas prior to leaving for the doctor’s office is all that is necessary to clean out the bowel for examination. Enemas are painless but a bit of a nuisance. Since I was likely saving my life, I felt the effort was well worth the nuisance.

The Biopsy Results and My Options

The results of the biopsy were ready in 3-4 days. The urologist communicated those to me on the phone. Great! No need for another doctor’s visit. My result was not good. The prostate gland is divided with the urethra running right through the middle of the gland. Stage three cancer was found in the left side of the prostate gland and stage four cancer resided in the right side. Stage four is the worst and normally means immediate surgery.

I want to stress a point and remove a myth about prostate cancer. Stage four prostate cancer does not mean that you will be die a slow death from this point going forward. Here are the options that were presented to me by my urologist:

  1. Inject the prostate gland in order to freeze it and stop the cancer from growing and spreading.
  2. Laparoscopically implant radio-active seeds into the prostate gland in order to kill the cancer and prevent it from spreading over time. The seeds would never be removed. I wouldn’t know that they are there. This is an out-patient procedure. No recovery period is necessary. It takes 20-30 minutes and I can resume my life normally after the procedure.
  3. Laparoscopically remove the prostate gland. This option requires one day in the hospital. Recovery time is a couple of days. No post-surgical medications are necessary.

I chose option “3”. I saw no point to having a dead organ reside inside my body.

Prostate cancer is normally a “slow grower”. Some men actually choose to ignore it, knowing that its slow growth won’t kill them until they are well into their 80’s or 90’s. Rapid growing prostate cancer is rare; but I had the rapid growing variety. Still, it was April and my doctor said that we needed to act before summer was out. I had a long fishing vacation in June so I chose to have the procedure performed in July. No rush.

The only cases of imminent danger of death due to prostate cancer are when men wait too long to see a doctor thus allowing the prostate cancer to spread to other organs. When this happens, the cancer often is still treatable but only through radiation or chemotherapy. There are cases where, what started as prostate cancer, has spread too far, infected other organs, and is terminal. This is a travesty since prostate cancer is fully treatable in its early stages.

Prostate Cancer and It’s Potential Affect on Sexual Intercourse 

This subject needs to be dealt with before we continue, as this is normally a man’s biggest fear; loss of his sex life. This subject area is also rampant with myths and misinformation.

One of the prostate glands primary functions is to manufacture semen. Treatment of prostate cancer, whether it be by freezing, implanting of radio-active beads, or prostate removal, will halt the prostate glands production of semen. Does this mean that a man’s sex life is over? NO! It just means that orgasms during sexual intercourse will not emit semen. Other than that, male orgasm remains the same exciting, throbbing, muscle spasm that it has always been.  Another myth removed.

There was a complication when my prostate gland was removed. This complication is not common when prostate cancer is discovered early. Regular PSA tests are effective at discovering prostate cancer early. Do not neglect this simple blood test for any reason.

The complication? On either side of the prostate gland are two nerve bundles; one on each side. I’m sure they have an anatomical name, but I have never seen an anatomical chart refer to them. My prostate cancer had spread to one of these never bundles so it had to be removed. The other nerve bundle was questionable.

These nerve bundles are responsible for stimulating an erection in a male. So they are important. If both nerve bundles are removed, a man cannot produce an erection. Does that mean his sex life is over if both of these bundles have to be removed? NO! There are options, which I shall describe in later in this post.

I chose to have both nerve bundles removed because I didn’t want to deal with the possibility that cancer still resided somewhere in my body.

Laparoscopic Prostate Gland Removal

This procedure requires no preparation. The procedure is performed in the hospital under anesthesia. After surgery, a one day stay in the hospital is necessary. The surgeon makes a tiny incision below the navel, and a couple more small incisions around the abdomen. He then uses a tiny scope and camera to remove the prostate gland via the incision below the navel. The entire procedure takes about six hours.

There is no pain involved either during or after this procedure. The incisions are so small that a band aid is all that is needed to cover them after surgery. The hospital stay is more for observation after receiving anesthesia than for anything else.

The whole procedure was uneventful except for some minor discomforts. Once you are on the operating table and totally asleep under anesthesia, your groin will be shaved of all hair and a catheter will be inserted into the penis and bladder. I don’t like catheters. They are irritating and bothersome. The catheter must remain intact for a week after surgery. When released from the hospital, I was given a small “knee bag” (called a Foley bag) to strap around my knee for urine collection during the day, and a larger bag to hang on the side of my bed for nighttime urine collection. When full, they are easily emptied into the toilet.

The only other discomfort I found with prostate surgery is that every nurse and LPN that comes on duty at the hospital wants to check your penis and catheter to insure that all is well. Forget modesty when in the hospital for prostate surgery and set up some bleachers in your hospital room so all the nurses have a comfortable place to sit while they are observing your penis and attached equipment. I figured I might as well allow cameras. I jokingly suggested to the nurses that they set up a camera and broadcast to a big screen monitor in the hospital lobby so that newcomers could watch! It’s that ridiculous and embarrassing. Now let’s get back to the serious subject of recovering from prostate surgery.

I was released from the hospital the day after my procedure. Recovery was a cinch. No pain medication was necessary as the only pain I experienced was where the catheter entered my penis. The catheter causes irritation and the tip of my penis was bleeding a little. Placing antibiotic ointment around the catheter where it enters the penis helped relieve the irritation and bleeding.

After one week of recovery, I returned to the urologist office for an examination and to have the catheter removed. As a safety precaution, I had to prove that I could urinate normally without the catheter. Since bladders do not like catheters either, the bladder will occasionally rebel and not let urine pass. To test this, a nurse injected a large syringe of saline solution into a port on the catheter tube, up the tube and into my bladder until I was no longer able to hold the volume of saline in my bladder. I warned the nurse. She then pulled the catheter out with one swooping motion, gave me a pitcher, and left the room hurriedly.  My job was to urinate in the pitcher so that the nurse could measure how much saline solution I succeeded in pushing out of my bladder. I was successful in attaining the desired result, so the catheter didn’t have to be reinserted for another test. I was relieved in more ways than one.

One other minor inconvenience that I should mention is that leakage will occur for a time while the bladder and penis get used to not being catheterized. This period can last as long as 4-6 weeks, at which time you must place a feminine pad in your underwear to prevent wetting yourself.

There is a 20% chance that you will be permanently incontinent after the procedure. This was unthinkable. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky 80%. These percentages have improved in the patients favor with new technology, like robotic surgery. Since I know nothing of this new technology, I cannot comment further. Discuss this with your doctor prior to surgery.

I found the whole procedure of prostate removal to be quite uneventful. I was glad to be alive without the worry of cancer growing somewhere in my body.

Is Sex Possible When Men Cannot Produce an Erection Naturally? – YES!

Since both never bundles adjacent to my prostate gland were cancerous, they had to be removed. I knew beforehand that natural erections were going to be impossible. And I was not ready to give up sexual relations with my spouse. Here are the alternatives that were presented to me by my urologist.

  1. Vacuum tube – a large plastic cylinder that, when placed over the penis, seals against the body thus permitting the creation of a partial vacuum when air is manually pumped out of the cylinder. The negative pressure within the cylinder encourages blood to flow into the penis thus producing an erection.
  2. Viagra, Cialis – Prescription tablets that when taken orally, stimulate blood flow to the penis causing an erection. Both medications require arousal.
  3. Injections – Alprostadil is injected into the side of the penis with a syringe and needle prior to having intercourse. The urologist teaches the patient how to do this so the injection can be prepared and used safely at home.  The injections are prepared by a compounding pharmacy and received via UPS. Ten injections cost about $50. A urologist will set all this up. He tests the patient with specific quantities of Alprostadil in his office with repeated injections until the penis reaches a length and girth that is satisfactory to both the patient and the doctor. This is the only way to determine specific dosage requirements, which are different for each patient.
  4. Penile implant – see procedure below

Pros and Cons of the Four Options for Producing an Erection in Men with ED (erectile dysfunction)

Option “1”, the vacuum tube, was definitely not an option suitable for me. This technology had been around for awhile and I had issues regarding whether such a ridiculous procedure even worked at all. I was surprised, upon investigation, to find that some doctors recommended temporary use of the vacuum tube in order to make the penis longer prior to installation of a penile implant. I discarded this suggestion also.

I tried option “2”,Viagra, which failed miserably. I also tried option “3”, the injections, which is a solution that my urologist promoted. I found those to be unsatisfactory as well.

Even though my urologist assured me that the shaft of the penis is not really capable of feeling much of anything (the penis is highly sensitive only at it’s head), I found the injections to be painful. The needle insertion was not painful. But later in the day, after having stuck a needle in my penis a couple of times, my penis ached to the point of having to take pain medication for relief.

To add insult to injury, the injections produced a 5-7 minute erection which was not acceptable to either me or my spouse. I do not recommend this solution. Regardless, this is a popular option for many men.

If a penile implant is to be used, be aware that medical insurance companies will not cover the cost of a penile implant, unless you have tried two of the other options listed above and found them to be unsatisfactory.

I didn’t even know what a penile implant was. It sounded scary, but appeared to be my only option. My urologist enlightened me.

This option is popular among men with ED due to prostate surgery. It has an average 90% satisfaction rate among men. This sounded great, even though I still did not know what was involved.

Once again, surgery and an overnight stay in the hospital are required, although some doctors perform the procedure as an out-patient service. There is no preparation necessary prior to entering the hospital.

The Hardware Components of a Penile Implant

All of the hardware needed for a penile implant is installed via one incision in the male scrotum, just under the point where the penis meets the scrotum and the two connect.

The penis has two chambers on either side of the urethra that contain a spongy-like substance. To form a normal erection in a healthy male, the body pumps blood to these chambers during arousal, until the penis is fully erect and hard.

When installing a penile implant, the spongy substance in these chambers are removed and a small, latex-like balloon is fitted into each chamber. If order to do this correctly, the urologist precisely measures both the length of the penis and the length of the chambers for each patient during surgery. The implant comes in various sizes in order to produce a precise fit.

A pump is installed in the scrotal sack and has three connecting tubes. One tube connects to a latex-like reservoir of saline fluid, which is hidden in the lower abdomen. The other two tubes connect to the base of the latex-like balloons that were fitted into the sides of the penis.

This sounds complex and burdensome. But none of the implant is noticeable once installed. After surgery the penis will be a bit longer and harder when flaccid (at rest) due to it’s need to support the newly installed hardware.

Recovery time for this procedure is six weeks for full healing of the incision. This is an uncomfortable time when both the scrotum and the penis are heavily bruised from surgery and enlarged due to swelling. Loose trousers are advised until swelling subsides, which normally only takes two weeks. Sitting during these two weeks is a challenge due to the swollen, enlarged scrotum. Standing is also a challenge because gravity goes to work on the scrotum and produces an annoying ache. Laying down frequently is the only option.

No sexual intercourse is permitted during the six week recovery period. A return trip to the urologist is necessary in order for the patient to learn how to operate the pump and release button, which reside inside and at the bottom of the scrotal sack.

Once out of surgery and back in the hospital room, a cast-like dressing covers the entire groin area. A hole is left at the top of the dressing where the penile head and attached catheter protrude. Antibiotics and pain medication are administered via an IV that connects to the hand. These medications are unnecessary after leaving the hospital. Sleeping must be accomplished on your back or sides.

Before I left the hospital, my doctor removed the dressing that covered my groin area. A nurse removed the catheter. Once again, I had to prove that I could urinate on my own. The wound on my scrotum bled slightly for two weeks and then healed nicely.

An erection is accomplished on-demand by squeezing the pump in the scrotum a few times with the fingers  until  an acceptable erection is achieved. The pump pumps saline fluid from the reservoir in the abdomen into the two chambers on either side of the penile shaft. With the implant, you can literally choose the length and girth of any specific erection.

CORRECTION MADE 1/22/2015 – you cannot choose the length of your erection after surgery. During surgery, your urologist took a measurement in order to determine which appliance size best fits your anatomy. His measurement measured from your pelvic bone to the end of your flaccid penis (non-erect). From this, the urologist somehow determines how long your penis would be when erect, but the urologist is usually wrong and you wind up with a “short dick”. Avoid this.

Urologist usually joke that their patients accuse them of making the penis too short after this surgery. This is no joke. They do just exactly that. I lost at least two inches in erection length and nobody seemed to care (except my wife). Again, avoid this.

PRIOR to having surgery, produce a normal erection or have your wife stimulate you to erection. Once fully erect, use a tape measure to measure from your pelvic bone to the end of your penis. Record this measurement and be precise.

Advise your urologist that you expect the same length of erection AFTER surgery as you had before surgery, REGARDLESS OF ANY MEASUREMENTS THAT HE MAY TAKE IN ORDER TO FIT YOU WITH AN IMPLANT. Be forceful. Otherwise you are going to wind up with a “short dick” and intercourse will be hell for the rest of your life. Urologist can’t seem to get this right. So head off this disaster in advance of your surgery.

Once surgery is complete and your genitals are completely healed, pump up you penis. Doing this will hurt for a couple of months as the tubes that were installed on either side of your penis terminate at the head of the penis with a hard bullet-shaped piece of plastic on both sides of the penis. These “bullets” support the head of the penis as the fluid-filled chambers on either side of the penis do not extend into the penis head. However, when fully inflated, these “bullets” press against the tender head of the penis and it hurts. That will go away over time.

Nevertheless, do your best to fully inflate your penis to erection. Then take the same measurement from pelvic bone to the end of the penis as you did before surgery. The resulting measurement should be the same after surgery. If it isn’t, you got shafted (no pun intended) by your urologist and an explanation from him/her is in order. Unfortunately, there is no way to resolve this issue except to do the surgery again so that a larger appliance can be installed.

I got “shafted” so intercourse is a bitch since I have a “short dick” to work with. Don’t let this happen to you.

Let Us Move On and Get Back to What We Were Talking About

You must use the fingers to press a button on the side of the pump to return the saline fluid back to the reservoir thus making the penis flaccid (at rest). Some men prefer to leave the penis partially inflated and that is permitted. After surgery, it is difficult to find the button on the pump in order to release fluid that is keeping the penis erect. This is due to scar tissue inside the scrotum, which will eventually go away.

Men love this device. Not only can they produce an erection on-demand, they can stay erect for as long, and as often as they want.  No arousal necessary. There is virtually no impact on orgasms. Orgasms are without semen, but are the same throbbing, muscle spasm that they have always been.

The satisfaction rates among women who have partners with an implant are even higher than that of men! My urologist indicated that this is primarily due to the implants ability to sustain an erection indefinitely and the implants uncanny ability to add girth to an erection.

If you are interested in personal testimonials and more detail from actual penile implant patients, there is a great blog on Blogger.com that deals only with penile implants. Language and photos are for adult viewing only. You’ll find that blog ->HERE<-.

In conclusion, I hope to have accomplished the following with this post:

  1. Encouraged men to take action with regard to their prostate health.
  2. Removed most of the fear and myths surrounding this important subject.
  3. Proved, by relating my own personal experience, that prostate cancer does not imply the loss of sexual relations.
  4. Demonstrated the prostate cancer treatment options, although inconvenient at times, are painless and can return men to their normal enjoyment of life without fear of cancer.

If I can save one man from dying of prostate cancer due to misinformation or no information, than writing this post was well worth my effort. I’m not embarrassed one iota from having related my personal experience. If I have to be the first to communicate a testimonial  on this subject, than so be it. Prostate cancer is a killer. But with early detection, it is no threat to your health, your pride, or your enjoyment of sexual intercourse.

If you are accustomed to receiving regular digital rectal exams of your prostate gland for abnormalities, that isn’t enough. This exam is a judgement call at best since since the physician must rely upon “feeling” something abnormal. My personal physician won’t even perform a digital rectal exam of the prostate gland.

You can find an abundance of information on these subjects by using Internet searches to locate your specific topic or term. If you want more information, do the searches and inform yourself. The number of men who die from prostate cancer each year is unacceptable. Education and regular PSA testing are your best weapons to insure that you do not become a cancer statistic.

Men, if you have questions that you would prefer to submit privately, I can answer your question, or find an answer for you, if you submit your question to thefolks@ThisIStheNorthwoods.com. I am the only one who monitors this mailbox.

The photo gallery that accompanies this post can be found —>Here<—.

 

 

 

 

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Berkeley Researcher Discovers the Fountain of Youth

What would you do if you saw this headline in the newspaper or on the cover of a magazine?

You would probably do exactly what I did when I saw this on the cover of a Readers Digest magazine in 1998. I read the article. And then I went  to my local GNC store and bought the “fountain of youth”. I’ve been getting younger ever since.

What is the “fountain of youth”  that was revealed at length in the 1998 Readers Digest article?

It’s two powerful anti-oxidants that can be purchased and taken as a dietary supplement. At this point, you may say to yourself, big deal. You were expecting more. But before you discount this discovery, let me explain the ageing process to you and how you can arrest that process to slow it down or even reverse it.

Before I explain how our bodies age, let me do a bit of a disclaimer. I’m not a pill or supplement freak. I don’t have a shelf full of dietary supplements. But I have always been a fan of anti-oxidants. There are many. This article is about the two most powerful anti-oxidants that I know of. Once you understand what anti-oxidants do in your body, you’ll likely give some serious thought to whether you should also be adding them to your dietary plan. It’s not hard or expensive to do that.

What causes ageing in our bodies? It’s the “oxidation” process acting on the cells in our body. That’s hard to believe. The one substance that we require in order to stay alive is oxygen. And oxygen is the one substance in our body that causes us to age. The oxidation process at work in our blood stream releases “free radicals”. Free radicals are the critters that attack perfectly healthy cells in our blood stream and do whatever they can to destroy them.

Prior to 1998, and prior to reading the aforementioned article in Readers Digest, I attended a seminar on an unrelated subject in Salt Lake City. One of the scheduled speakers came on stage and began talking about oxidation and free radicals. He presented photos of dissected blood vessels from a person who included anti-oxidants in their diet, and the same from another person who  did not.

Photo of a bottle of alpha lipoic acid capsules.It was ugly. The inside of the vessels where the oxidation process had been slowed or nullified looked normal, healthy, and pink; like you would expect a blood vessel to look. But the blood vessels that had experienced heavy oxidation looked tan in color with brown spots. And the vessel tissue itself appeared to be thin and limp. I admit to being a bit startled by all of this. I should mention that the anti-oxidant supplements that this gentleman was promoting were vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium. All of these are classified as anti-oxidants. And all of them can be found in foods that we eat; but not in sufficient quantity to be a huge benefit to our health. But none of them are as powerful as acetyl l-carnitine (ALCAR) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA).

Photo of a bottle of acetyl l-carnitine capsules.Both of these supplements come in a capsule and can be purchased at most dietary supplement websites or OTC at a pharmacy or GNC. The dosage is important but everyone (except the researchers that conducted the study at Berkeley) will tell you something different.  The dosage recommended by the Berkeley researchers is 500 mg. of ALCAR and 200 mg. of ALA; taken twice a day after a meal. The reason for taking these supplements after a meal is because the digestive process slows down their absorption. Otherwise, they would just shoot through your digestive tract without significant absorption.

Let’s get back to the Berkeley researchers. How and why did the announcement of their research wind up on the cover of Readers Digest? What was so special about their findings?

First of all, they were indeed searching for the “fountain of youth”. Bruce Ames, the lead biochemist, knew that oxidation was connected to the ageing process. He just needed to find out how and why it was connected. Their research was performed on laboratory rats of various ages, over time. Test specimens who were on a steady diet of ALCAR and ALA supplements showed unusually high energy levels and no free radical damage to their blood vessels. The control group, which were not given any dietary supplements, showed normal damage to their blood vessels from free radicals and many of the other expected signs of ageing. Those specimens were more sedentary, slower to learn new tasks, and required more rest. Additionally, they looked old. Their physical appearance had changed notably over time.

That’s great news! But there have been no completed studies on humans. The fact that a study on humans would have to be performed over a considerably long length of time may have something to do with that. Bruce Ames says that there is a human study in process. The FDA has approved aceytl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid as a dietary supplement. For that matter, L-carnitine and lipoic acid can be found  in some foods and occurs naturally in our bodies.

I searched the Web in order to find the specific Reader’s Digest article from the 1998 edition of the magazine. None could be found; not even in the Readersdigest.com archives. However, I did find another discussion of the same subject in the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper from 2002. That article can be found –>here<–.

Dr. Ames and a student researcher started a company in 1999 called Juvenon, which manufacturers both anti-oxidants in one capsule under patent. Dr. Ames has no financial interest in that company. Juvenon can be found at www.Juvenon.com. The Juvenon web site also has an extensive list of publications and articles about Dr. Ames research and the beginnings of the Juvenon company. I have placed a link to those references at the bottom of this post for your easy reference.

Please note that the Juvenon product comes in only one size capsule, and the ingredients are correct – 1,000 mg. of ALCAR and 400 mg. ALA. BUT, the label on the bottle says to take 4 capsules per day AND THAT IS GROSSLY INCORRECT. Supplement manufacturers use this trick to sell more product. At the current Juvenon strength, you only need one capsule per day in order to achieve the correct daily dosage.

As for me? I have been taking ALCAR and ALA since 1998 as a regular part of my dietary supplement regimen. That’s fourteen years. I can’t tell you what my dissected blood vessels look like for obvious reasons. Do I feel younger? Well, yeah. But then I’ve always felt 25 years old. So that doesn’t count. Do I look younger. Well, yeah. Folks that try and guess my age are about 10 years off on a regular basis. But that’s hardly scientific. Right?

This much we know for certain. Oxidation in the body encourages the release of free radicals which are harmful because they break down healthy tissue. Anti-oxidant substances, when taken as a dietary supplement,  counters this process. Specific anti-oxidants, such as acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid are extremely powerful and more effective at countering free radicals, and in many cases, they can reverse free radical damage and restore healthy tissue.

So my un-scientific conclusion is that if powerful anti-oxidants do not harm you (the FDA and the AMA say they don’t, but check with your doctor) AND if taking anti-oxidants is not troublesome nor terribly expensive, then why would a person not want to take them and stop free radicals from destroying healthy tissue within their bodies?

I don’t know. Doing ANYTHING considered to be healthy makes sense to me. That’s why I’m going to continue taking the most powerful anti-oxidants that I can find. Maritime pine bark is another powerful anti-oxidant that comes in a pill. But that’s another topic.

Let’s do a test. A photo of me taken last year by a professional studio appears all over this website. Guess how young I am. Don’t cheat by adding on a few years to your guess because you read this article. Pretend you didn’t read this post and give me your best guess. I’ll send a free bottle of acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid to the first person who guesses correctly. (WordPress automatically date/time-stamps your comments. Don’t give me your mailing address. I’ll send you an e-mail and ask for it if you are the winner.)

 

AUTHORS NOTE – this note is on another topic which I’ll address in a future post, but the fear of aging is one of the six greatest fears that we all have, as identified in 1937 by the famous author, Napoleon Hill. I have evaluated my thinking and concluded that I do not fear growing old. That is not why I take anti-oxidants. I’m just addicted to good health; and you should be too.

 

AUTHORS NOTE – please consult the reference links that I have included in this post. This is a controversial subject. Statements that I have made should be verified by following the links associated with those statements. Check out the publications and information on www.juvenon.com for more information than I was able to include in this post.

AUTHORS DISCLAIMER – I have no financial interest in either Juvenon or Puritan’s Pride products. I buy my acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid as separate supplements from wwww.puritanspride.com.

 

REFERENCES

A number of articles have been published in periodicals and newspapers over the early 2,000’s that elaborate on the topic above and support it. Please refer to this documentation. It’s pretty interesting stuff. –>Click here<– to view the list of articles in a separate tab.

 

 

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