from the Experts at the Norman Parathyroid Center
Interesting stories of hyperparathyroidism we see every day. Parathyroid blog published bi-weekly.
We have known for years that people with primary hyperparathyroidism and high blood calcium become depressed, fatigued, and often lose interest in doing many things. Loss of interest in sex, and loss of sexual pleasure used to be discussed only occasionally with our hyperparathyroid patients, but often people are not open to discussing sex, and only a small percent will actually ask questions about sex in front of their spouse (weird?). Complicating the “sex and hyperparathyroidism” issue further is the fact that many patients will bring other family members with them, and you can almost guarantee that your teenage kids don’t want to hear mom ask the doctor about sex–or the lack of sex! Thus we knew high calcium and hyperparathyroidism were making people uninterested in sex, and we knew that many marriages were stressed over lack of sexual interest in our parathyroid patients–we just didn’t know how to approach the topic of sex with our patients very elegantly.
Four years ago we added “Loss of Sexual Appetite” to our hyperparathyroidism online questionnaire for patients having surgery with us. Once the patients identified themselves, we could tailor our conversations to them, talking about sex and hyperparathyroidism when we need to, and avoiding any embarrassing sex question when it is not necessary (there really is a reason why we charge more for our consultations and services than other surgeons–we know 100 times as much, and we can help you more — and we’re nicer!). During the past 4 years, we operated on 9,689 people who answered our question about their sex life and how hyperparathyroidism / high blood calcium has affected their desire for sex.
Since women get hyperparathyroidism 3 times more often than men, we had 7,428 women answer our hyperparathyroidism sex question, and 2,260 men. Over the past year, I’ve been asking some of our women who answered “Yes” to the question about decreased sexual appetite since diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism and had them tell me if things improved or not. THERE IS GOOD NEWS!
Women with Hyperparathyroidism Have a Dramatic Decrease In Sexual Desire and Sexual Enjoyment.
The graph on the left shows that over half of the 7439 women with primary hyperparathyroidism that we operated on over the past 4 years claim a dramatic decrease in sexual desire and sexual enjoyment. We’ve broken it down by age so we can see that high blood calcium affects the sexual drive in all age groups. Another interesting thing we found was that the male SPOUSES of these women said there was a bigger problem than even the parathyroid-affected wife would admit. When we finally get the lady with a parathyroid tumor to chat about this in front of their man, the man many times perceives a bigger problem than the woman will admit. Clearly hyperparathyroidism and high blood calcium was making women fatigued, tired, and even depressed. This was showing up in their sex lives.
Over the past year we’ve been asking some of our parathyroid patients about any improvement in their sexual desires following parathyroid surgery. The results show statistically what we knew from talking to our patients. By huge statistical amounts (p<0.00001), women with hyperparathyroidism who undergo parathyroid surgery to be cured of the high blood calcium have a dramatic improvement in their sexual desires. The improvements were seen in women of all age groups, with about three-fourths of women under age 65 claiming their sex-lives were much improved following cure of the hyperparathyroidism.
The improvements were seen in some women within a few days of surgery: “I haven’t been this horny since I was a newlywed” claimed one of my 55 year old ladies exactly 4 days after her operation. She is an outlier, however, as most women claim their interest in lovemaking returned 2-3 weeks after their parathyroid operation, about one week after their chronic fatigue began to resolve. Some women state that it took a few months before they were interested in sex again, and of course, about 25% said the parathyroid operation didn’t help much at all. It appears the average time for sexual desires to return following parathyroid surgery is about 3 weeks. Just like we say in our post-op literature we give out to all our patients–some of our women are the rabbits and some are the turtles. We can’t tell which women with hyperparathyroidism are going to feel better (and sexier) within days, and which ones are going to take a few weeks or even a month or two.
What about men you say? Yes, we have data on men, and it is good news for them too. Remember that 75% of people with hyperparathyroidism are women, so we talked about the women first. The data also showed that men suffer from sex issues when their blood calcium is high just like women. The percentages of men who claim problems with sex, or lack of interest in sex is a bit less than that of women in the same age group. In our study of 2,260 men, 31% age 21-45 claimed a lack of interest in sex, increasing to 42% of men between 46 and 65, and increasing even further to 45% of men between 66 and 80 years of age. Just like the women, men experienced a dramatic significant increase (p<0.00001) in sexual desire within the weeks-months following parathyroid surgery. Just like the women, about 75% of men under age 65 had an improvement in their sex life / sex drive, with 58% of men over 65 years of age claiming benefits.
James (Jim) Norman, MD, FACS, FACE, is recognized as one of the world's foremost expert on parathyroid disease and hyperparathyroidism and has treated far more parathyroid patients than any other doctor in the world. He is the founder of the Norman Parathyroid Center in Tampa, Florida, the world's leading center for the diagnosis and treatment of hyperparathyroidism. Dr Norman has made numerous contributions to to the understanding of parathyroid disease and is credited with dramatically changing the way parathyroid surgery is performed. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and also a Fellow of the American College of Endocrinology (FACE). He is recognized in the top 1% of all surgeons by US News and World Reports in addition to dozens of other awards and Best Surgeon accolades. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr Norman and his partners perform more than 3,600 parathyroid operations annually on patients from all over the world.