Writer's Life As A Woman Makes Me Ponder Mine As A Man

Writer Dana Jennings writes on the New York Times's "Well blog" about his time "being a woman" — the time in which, while fighting an aggressive prostate cancer, he found himself taking hormone suppressants... at the same time his wife was going through menopause.

He says:

As my wife and I sat on the couch one night this past winter, reading and half-watching the inevitable HGTV, I started sweating hard and my face got so fevered and flushed that I felt as if I were peering into an oven.

I turned to Deb and said, "Man, I'm having a wicked hot flash." And she said, "Me, too." Then we laughed. You laugh a lot - unless your hormones are making you cry - when you're having menopause with your wife.

But Jennings discovered that the side effects of the loss of hormones were no laughing matter. In addition to intense hot flashes, he had intense food cravings, weight gain, headaches, fatigue and mood swings that he describes thusly:

The tears would usually pour down when I got ambushed by some old tune: "Sweet Baby James" and "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor, "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" by Carly Simon and, yes, "It's My Party" by Lesley Gore. Not only was I temporarily menopausal, but it appeared that I was also turning into a teenage girl from the early 1970s.

Jennings uses his experience to call on men to be more understanding of the mood swings of their partners, which he found himself unable to control.

But it's amusing that Jennings' trip into "womanhood," so to speak, was precipitated not by the addition of female sex hormones but by the subtraction of testosterone. In fact, it makes me wonder what adding estrogen and progesterone might have done to Jennings, or, more comically, what adding testosterone could do to me.

For instance, testosterone has been tested and is used in Europe to restore sex drive to post-menopausal women. Given my sex drive, that could get a bit... hard to handle, even if I had a long-term partner around. If testosterone does cause people to be more aggressive, well, I think I have published enough rants in my time to indicate that could get problematic. But if it would stop me from crying when I'm PMSing? Sign me up.

My Brief Life As A Woman [NY Times]

Related: Testosterone Patch May Kick-Start Sex Drive In Women [CNN]

Earlier: What Constitutes A Dry Spell?