Prolactinomas are benign tumors of the pituitary gland, which cause excessive production of a hormone called prolactin. The increase in prolactin reduces estrogen levels in women and testosterone levels in men. This imbalance can result in decreased sex drive, headaches, low bone density, acne, visual disturbances and infertility. Additionally, woman may experience excessive hair growth and irregular menstrual cycles, while men may be subject to erectile disfunction and enlarged breasts (gynocomastia).
Fortunately, a large majority of these cases can be treated with medication or surgery. The procedure most often used to remove a prolactinoma is called a transsphenoidal resection. The surgery is minimally invasive, and makes use of an endoscope (a small telescope-like device outfitted with a camera and a light). The endoscope is inserted up through the nose and into the sphenoid sinus (air passage), where a small hole is made that allows the surgeon to see the pituitary gland clearly. The tumor is located, detached and removed through this opening, generally resulting in the return of normal pituitary function.
Males who undergo this procedure can experience a post-operative “testosterone storm,” (a surge in testosterone production), which can cause puberty related issues. Such was the case for Ken Baker, senior correspondent for E! News and recent guest on the Dr. Drew podcast. As a teenager, Ken was a gifted hockey player, but failed to develop the desired musculature and brawn of an athlete. He also completely lacked a sex drive, had a pear-shaped figure, and lactated. At twenty-seven, he was finally diagnosed with a prolactinoma, and underwent a transsphenoidal resection. The surgery was successful, but came with some amusing side effects, including a voracious sex drive and a bad case of acne. His story has made its way to the big screen via a new movie called The Late Bloomer, a romantic comedy based on his own book, “Man Made: A Memoir of My Body” recently re-released under the new title: “Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body”.
O’ Shei, Tim, “Movie made: The Story of Ken Baker’s ‘The Late Bloomer,'” October 9, 2016
De Graaf, Mia, ‘I saw sex everywhere’: How a brain tumor delayed this man’s puberty – and rampant teenage sex drive – until he was THIRTY,” October 7, 2016
Swearington MD, Brook “Transsphenoidal Surgery FAQ,” revised 2014