Sitting at my desk at work I was flip flopping between hot flashes and cold spells. “I must be getting sick” as I rationalized my condition.Â Heightened emotions also accompanied with rolling feelings of exhaustion, as I simply could not get out of bed anymore. I was even falling asleep shortly after dinner, so I rationalized that too, “Well maybe I am going to start my period.” Even though I just went through my cycle and I was not experiencing the traditional monster pimple that rears itself just before I start, I made that excuse as my personal self-diagnosis. For weeks these feelings continued. For months I rationalized what was wrong with me. Until I made the appointment with my doctor to really see what was going on with my health.
During those weeks and months I battled with an overall feeling of being unwell and I used that time to Google, MD my condition. Anything from cancer to thyroid to just getting older to a bad diet. Not enough sleep, not enough exercise, not enough sex. (Yes The Chad, that’s for you.) Well I knew I could rule out cancer, my thyroid; I had already battled those to this point. A bad diet….well I was eating out once a week. Sleep could have been the culprit as I was struggling to get a good night sleep. Exercise was definitely not an issue, I was exercising five times a week. Sex….not enough sex as The Chad would tell me, that was the cure for everything was sex. Giggling long and hard to his absurd thoughts, I really contemplated how often we were and were not having sex. He was right. We had not been acting as a married couple for a long time because of my state of feeling and the effects had began to take their toll. At times it felt like our marriage was at its end, even though we vowed to never reach the end, I felt insecure.
Maybe The Chad was onto something. Maybe our intimacy factor was really affecting my overall health and well-being and our marital health and well-being. Could it be that lack of sex was causing all of these issues? Surely it was bullshit. I did have a lack of interest…sex could not be farther from my mind. Our marriage was suffering because of my lack of interest. Since I did not feel well and I had no desire, our intimacy had fallen by the wayside, as did our relationship. Despite his complete understanding, empathy and love for me and for what I was going through, I know his needs were not being met. My needs were not being met, we were suffering; more than just intimately with sex, but intimately in our conversations, our partnership, our friendship. We felt like a house at odds. We were at odds and the feeling was horrible. My body was at odds with itself and I felt horrible. My emotions were at odds and I felt horrible. What the hell is/was wrong?
Bouts of crying and wanting to rip people’s heads off flashed over me while I sat at my desk at work many a days. Walking up and down the stairs were a relief to my emotional waves, except for the joint pain. Now I have arthritis? Tossing and turning in my sleep as I would be drenched in sweat. I never backed down on what was going on, I knew something was wrong. I barked to The Chad, something is wrong with me, something isn’t right. He reassured me to stop stressing about work, the kids, my condition and things would be better. He was right to some degree but things just were not syncing up. We would be intimate and I would feel a wave of relief and pain all at once. What the hell…I am a reborn virgin? My hymen doesn’t just grow back, why I am having pain? Why is there discomfort? Was my stress really affecting my libido? Dammit. I would sob in shame, hiding all of my pain and struggle from all of those around me, I hid how depressed I felt about feeling unwell.
When I finally had a sit down with my doctor we addressed everything, including my libido and the overall lack thereof. I just felt blase, yuck, disgusting. Sex was the farthest thing from my mind at all times and I had no drive, no desire. My energy sucked. My mood sucked. My skin was a wreck. Everything was a mess. My physician suggested everything from touching myself to pornography to “get me in the mood.” I looked at her like she was a moron…especially when she passed me personal lubricant to help with my touching. Did she really think that was all there was to this issue?Masturbation? That was the answer?! Interrupting her and the teachings on self pleasure, I flatly asked her what my blood work said too. Clearly I knew that women are cerebral regarding sex and arousal, the intimacy and emotion that often accompany our sense of arousal in addition to the visual stimulation. For once I cared about what the tests said because this was more than JUST the sex.
Her response was so flippant and nonchalant regarding my results. So everything is in the normal range, you are a bit low on iron, vitamin D and your testosterone is low but normal. Testosterone? Like in men?
Wait. Stop. Right. There.
Recalling my Google MD sessions of self diagnosis I asked her about the latter two, vitamin D and testosterone. What affects do both of these have in women? Her response again was deafening as it was dismissive: “severe mood swings, feeling sluggish, tired and exhausted, joint pain, lack of libido, lack of energy, acne, weight gain and inability to lose weight, anxiety. Women have a fraction of the amount of testosterone men do, but they need it for… ” Her voiced trailed off as I ignored all that she had to say after that.
Holy Toledo! Was this woman oblivious to what she was telling me? She rattled off every issue I had been experiencing. Now I felt crazy in addition to every other symptom. Yet I knew in my Google MD searches that I ran across articles and medical journals discussing low testosterone as an ailment that was widely misdiagnosed in women. I grilled the doctor about the low testosterone and my level of testosterone and interrogated her that although the tests showed in the “normal” range that my personal normal range could be higher which is why I was feeling this way? “Well, yes….” she trailed off and was dismissive. Nope. Stop. I knew in that moment I needed more answers. She did discuss compound pharmacies and the expensive cost of boutique treatments and nothing was guaranteed to work. She continued to push the personal lubricant and pornography on me at which I smiled politely and said thank you.
I knew my direction. I knew my path. I got in the car and immediately searched for naturopath physicians. Why wouldn’t this option be ruled out? Organic foods saved me from myself a few years prior and radically changed my health, why wouldn’t alternative medicine be an option? Researching more about testosterone in women I found my levels were that of a prepubescent girl and or a menopausal woman. So in my mid 30s I should feel like this? I should just accept this? I read more in medical journals the effects on men and found a few hidden gems regarding women, long term affects like early onset osteoporosis, depression and anxiety that are often misdiagnosed in women with low testosterone. Relief. Answers. Understanding. I texted friends who had sought alternative medicine, naturopaths, and the response was outstanding. Within a week I was visiting a naturopath physician who helped me to get my life back on track.
Our first session we discussed all my ailments, how long I had been suffering. What vitamins I was taking. What diet I was eating. Exercise. Supplements. Water intake. Alcohol intake. Sleep. Skin conditions and other physical ailments. Then came the hard questions like vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, arousal…if any. Overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity, sadness, and disappointment for how long I had suffered and how long my marriage was suffering, how I failed to feel like a woman and fulfill as a wife. I had answers and I began to breathe lighter and with less dismay, seeing and feeling the glimmer of hope. The doctor confirmed what I already thought to be true was low testosterone and we immediately began a treatment plan.
For the first week or so I didn’t feel any different other than the hip soreness from my testosterone pellet implant. What the hell!? Where were the results? Wasn’t I to start feeling something….sometime….soon even? Until one day I literally felt ravenous, energetic. I popped out of bed like the girl of my youth. I didn’t struggle to wake with my alarm. I am awake before my alarm? Visually stimulated at the sight of my husband I woke him in the most pornographic way. Driven and filled with desire I couldn’t help myself and I loved it! My blood was pumping wildly and I felt alive again. We laid there completely satisfied and I giggled, hysterically, out loud. He looked at me like the mad woman I was. His first question was, “What got into you?” I knew what it was, I knew what got into me, I felt sexy, feminine, strong, passionate, energetic, happy, relieved, and alive. I have never looked back.
Today I am almost three years into treatment. Seems like a long time and some might be asking what the end game might be for my treatment. Does there need to be an end game? Should I look for an end? Low testosterone deeply affected me and my marriage. What would have happened had I not taken appropriate steps to address my health, should I look for an end again? Revert back to the way my life was prior, with uncontrollable mood swings, excruciating joint pain, exhaustion and the inability to spend time with my family, energy to run with my kids, a total lack and disinterest in sex? Low testosterone ended my energy, my joy and may have resulted in misdiagnosis as so many women receive due to “normal” test results. I am a vibrant late 30s woman with the normal and healthy sex drive of a woman my age should experience with energy to boot. I no longer struggle with waking in the morning and falling asleep at six o’clock at night. My skin glows and radiates as it should with my healthy diet and exercise.
I have strength. I feel sexy. I want sex with my husband….I want it regularly. I feel alive. I feel normal. What I did not want was toÂ give up seeking answers. What I did not do was accept “normal” as my normal.
I am not saying that my condition is yours. I am not a doctor nor do I condemn traditional Western medicine. What I am saying is that as women, as people, as a society we should listen to our bodies. Listen to what our bodies are telling us when they just feel out of whack, out of sync, and just an overall feeling of something is not right. We should never let the first answer be the end answer. Find your normal. Ask questions, ask why, ask why not.