You Know What They Say About Men With Big Feet?

Okay, so speaking as a dude, I have a confession to make: Dick jokes make me laugh. They make me laugh hard. (Sorry…) And most guys, whether they admit to it or not, would probably agree. Erectile Dysfunction, though, is no laughing matter. Most guys can agree on that, too.

But here’s something very few of those guys—or anyone, really—has ever considered: ED can point to other, larger problems (no pun intended that time). Take these case studies summarized in Reviews in Urology.

One of the cases involved a man being treated for ED; along with the lower libido and early-morning testosterone levels you might expect to find, examinations also found something unusual: His insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 levels were consistently high.

An MRI confirmed he had acromegaly, and surgery to remove the pituitary gland successfully cured the patient’s acromegaly. An unexpected side effect? It also seemed to reverse his Erectile Dysfunction.

Something similar happened in the other case involving a man suffering from worsening ED with accompanying fatigue, loss of libido, and lower levels of early-morning testosterone levels. The man underwent a variation of the same pituitary gland procedure, but unlike the first case, he had high levels of a protein called hyperprolactinemia; while he noted some improvement in his ED, the protein was still holding back his testosterone levels.

Doctors prescribed a medication to suppress the hyperprolactinemia, which in turn, boosted the patient’s testosterone levels and improved his ED.

So what’s the significance of all this? Well, we know that acromegaly is incredibly rare—the article cites a prevalence of only 40 to 70 cases per million. And while some acromegaly symptoms are relatively well-known to doctors—notably the enlargement of hands, feet, and facial features—there are many other symptoms that are being overlooked that could lead to a quicker diagnosis.

We may not know exactly why so many men with acromegaly also have ED, but it’s worth raising awareness among doctors so they can do a better job of funneling their ED patients to an endocrinologist. Not only is there a good chance of reversing those patients’ ED, but of intercepting something even more serious.

And that could be huge. Like, really huge.

Ronald Ledsen

Ronald Ledsen

After emigrating from his native Sweden, Ronald spent a stint in the Merchant Marines while trying to work out what he wanted to do with his life. He discovered a love of writing while helping a friend write anonymous Harry Potter fan-fiction online; he discovered meaning to his writing when he began journaling after an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Ronald is most relaxed when spending quiet time with his wife, two sons, and hyperactive cat.

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