And It's About Time There Was Some Support For Cushing's!
6 Aug 1999
by Troya Renee Yoder
as originally posted on Suite 101.com, Pituitary Disorders
She slowly tiptoes up the stairs, careful to stay close to the wall. Barely breathing, she is afraid to make a sound. Past the kids’ rooms, all tucked in asleep hours ago. She stops at the doorway of the master bedroom, listening. Not a sound, but quiet even breathing. Should she risk brushing her teeth? No, experience has taught her not to. She continues, ever so slowly, towards her side of the bed, and inch-by-inch shifts her weight onto the mattress. The hulking shape on the other side of the bed doesn’t make a sound. With a quiet sigh of relief, she slides under the covers and closes her eyes.
She feels a hand brush her shoulder gently, and warm breath on her neck. Eyes open wide, she fumbles in the dark for the emergency string and gives a sharp tug, as strong arms embrace her. A crash sounds somewhere down the hall. Just as the shadow makes his move, the pitter-pat of little feet burst into the room. They head directly for her side of the bed. She quickly grabs up her little one and tucks her between them. Daddy groans out loud, turning his back and falls back into a dissatisfied sleep. Mommy hugs her little one tight, pleased that her carefully crafted plan was so successful, but her heart is filled with guilt. Again.
A little extreme to avoid contact with the person you love most? Probably not, if you have a pituitary tumor. And the roles can easily be reversed. The hormone excesses and deficiencies of pituitary tumors can wreak havoc on sexual desire in both men and women. And to add insult to injury, many patients are also treated with anti-depressants, a number of which, themselves cause sexual side effects. This can be a most frustrating aspect of pituitary disease for both the patient and their significant other, and is often ignored by physicians. It is a very complex science, as the number of hormones involved is many and their roles and complex interactions are just beginning to be clearly defined.
The Hormones of Desire – This list is by no means exhaustive, but includes the male and female hormones that exert the greatest effects on sexual desire.
Many pituitary patients are also being treated for depression. A number of the most popular antidepressants, including Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, and Effexor, are in a class of anti-depressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors. With this class of antidepressants in particular, it is estimated that 30-78% of patients experience some sexual dysfunction (1). Add this to an already diminished sex drive…and you know the rest.
If your testosterone levels are low, there are patches, creams, pills, and injectable testosterone supplements that can be prescribed to increase your active testosterone levels. However, there are some concerns regarding the potential of masculinization of such treatments when used on women.
Supposedly eating more protein and exercising more vigorously will raise your testosterone levels naturally. However, it is doubtful that these methods will increase your testosterone significantly enough to increase your sex drive. But, what do we have to lose…
A new drug called LIBIDO ™(Ardor) has been shown to be effective in treating sexual dysfunction resulting from the class of antidepressants know as serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Applications are awaiting FDA approval.
Lastly, the anti-depressant known as Wellbutrin may increase DHEA levels, which in turn will increase testosterone levels and increase libido. This treatment is thought to minimize the risk of masculinization and is usually more effective in women than men.
A total loss of sex drive was one of the first symptoms that I noticed, and the one that led me initially to the doctors. I can only speak for myself, but for me the decrease in sex drive involved a total loss of desire, sexual fantasies, and sexual responsiveness. Think back to what you thought about sex when you where eight-years-old…that is how I feel, except that aura of mystery and something forbidden is also missing. It is not difficult to imagine that this has been a major obstacle in our marriage and has yet to be resolved. Even with the effective lowering of my prolactin levels with Dostinex, and stopping Prozac, my desire has not returned. At this time, however, my testosterone is still very low for reasons that have yet to be explained. So we wait…
In the next article, "In Sickness and in Health", my husband has volunteered to tell his side of the story, and how it feels to lay on the other side of the bed.