I come back on this blog to share my story. It is an optimistic one. I hope that it will help you.
I took Finasteride for a couple of weeks in 2015. Right at the beginning, I was unsure about the idea of medication operating on the endocrine system to prevent hair loss. But I thought that if I have undesirable side effects, I would simply stop. I took it, I had side effects, I stopped and the side effects stopped.
This could have been the end of the story if, at the time, I had not been so preoccupied about the idea of losing my hair. In November 2016, while preparing the great demand to my girlfriend, the idea of losing my hair came back to haunt me. ‘You would look better at your wedding if you don’t lose your hair!’ So I took Finasteride again. The proposal went top notch! She said yes ;-). But the side effects were really bad. After only six days taking the pills, I stopped, expecting for the sides to stop also. But this time they didn’t.
I was profoundly desperate. I felt stupid. I felt like I had done the most terrible mistake of my life, one of an irreparable kind. I was willing to give so much to change the past and to undo this mistake. What if, because of an irrelevant aesthetic worry, I can’t have children?
Fortunately, I remained optimistic. In February 2017, when time alone didn’t seem to do much for the side effects to dissolve, I started to take things in charge. Problems are soluble, I thought. The first thing I wrote down in my notebook was:
‘At the wedding, I am healed’.
The doctor who prescribed me Finasteride did it with no warning. I went back to him, extremely angry. I told him about the side effects that had not faded out months after I stopped taking finasteride. Prepared for his potential attempts to minimize my claims, I had printed scientific papers about PFS, and I asked for a consultation in urology. The urologist was also unaware of PFS. I gave him the same papers, thinking that even if it doesn’t help me, at least, it will help building awareness among medical doctors. He prescribed blood tests, and gave me consultations with a psychiatrist and with an endocrinologist. I tested low on LH, FSH, androstenedione and Vit D. I remember that after my appointments with the two specialists, I felt like they could not really help me, and that since they found no path for problem solving, they went into problem denial, convincing me that I should not matter so much about the symptoms I have, and instead I should focus on my own projects.
At least, the blood tests gave me something concrete to fight for, and allowed me to compare the internal feelings of my symptoms with actual empirical data. So I kept seeing the endocrinologist every couple of months with the main purpose of being prescribed more blood tests. Optimistic in nature, I kept convincing him to search for ways to help me: I printed more papers for him, I asked if he could discuss with colleagues and also, I used his advice to control some apparently radical proposals that could be found on the forum (e.g. balls painting).
The most beneficial help that I found to guide my recovery came from this forum. No doubt. But… there is a big caveat… So many users of the forum have a pessimistic tone, and like to attach some inevitability to the stasis of their situation. I really feel compassion for these guys, and I don’t think that being rude to them helps. They don’t deserve this. They, however, contributed in making my side effects bigger, and harder to heal, because it was tempting to believe in the inevitability that they advocated.
The stories of CD nuts and of English were the best ones that I had found. I spent months gathering knowledge about hormonal regulation, nutrition, supplements, fasting, physical training, sexual envy stimulation, positive thinking… And I came up with my own plan. I posted it in Aug, 2017, and, as promised, I logged in for a last time in Sept, 2017 before disappearing from the forum. I highly recommend that after you write down your plan and you decide to commit to it, you get out of the forum. There is always more information, more stories to read, but at some point it won’t help you anymore. It will keep you in the weathercock mode, and in the ‘I have PFS’ mode instead of showing you the way towards feeling great and forgetting about PFS in a typical day.
I reattach the plan that I committed to, with the slight modifications that correspond to what I ended up doing. I don’t claim that it’s the best plan to follow, nor that everything is right. In fact, it’s probably full of useless things, and it may even contain harmful things. But knowledge is conjectural, and these are the best guesses that I made at the time from my readings and my criticisms. I put it together and I wrote it down myself. I made the deal with myself of honouring my plan for 8 months. No cheating. At all.
It’s not a battle, it’s about living your life to the fullest .
- Be grateful
- Be positive
- Be a stoic
- Listen to your body
- Meditate daily
- Yoga weekly
- Visualize sex before bed
- 3 resistance trainings per week (3-6 PM)
- 2 HIIT trainings per week
- Carb backload on training days
- Gluten free: sorghum, millet, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa…
- Paleo diet
- More veggies than fruits
- Light on the nightshades
- Eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes.
- Intermittent fast once a week
- Pre workout with fuit-base sugars
- Post workout with 75g carbs 25g prot.
- Before bed 40g prot.
- Vitamine D (2 000 IBU)
- Zinc (30 mg)
- Magnésium (200-400 mg)
- Cycle herbs
- Tongkat Ali, Mucuna, Aswaghanda, Pine pollen, Shi Lajit, Tribulus terrestris ,Hoarny Goat weed
- Have projects
- Have sex
- No alcohol
- No coffee
- No drug
- No masturbation
- Wake up early
- Go to bed when tired
- Sauna & cold bath
- Cold showers
- Drink 3L of water a day
- Avoid chemicals
- Natural soaps, shampoo, detergent, deo
- Keep you cell phone out of your pocket
- Get as much sun as possible
- Ice your balls
How did it go?
I was determined. No alcohol, no masturbation, no coffee… that was quite a shift from my normal life! I learnt not to care anymore about what people think. I became impermeable to acquaintances coming to me asking ‘You don’t drink alcohol? How come?’. This freedom is great! I can now change my habits much easier because I am less tied to social expectations, to cultural behaviours and ways of thinking that everybody adopts for the sole reason that everybody else adopts it.
I shared all my struggles and my thought process with my fiancée, my closest friends and even my family and my family-in-law. From what I read on the forum, this is quite unusual. People tend to keep their PFS challenge for themselves and for other guys from the forum. But I think that this is a mistake. When you tell people about your success, it can generate envy and comparison. When you tell them about your struggles, with an open heart, people care and listen and do their best to understand you. They will likely try to help and they will quickly remove the labels that are so easily put when they see you acting differently with no explanations. Try it. It feels great.
In September 2017, I channelled my high-intensity interval trainings (HIIT) to perform in an Olympic triathlon. I did it in 2h32.
In October 2017, I broke my workout routine and my diet in order to fast. I had of course read a lot about fasting before doing it. I took water only, for 12 days. I did it at my parent’s place in the countryside. It was an amazing experience. I got into the deepest meditative states that I have ever been. I felt great in my mind and in my body, except for the first 3 days, because I was very hungry. Sexually speaking, I was not at my peak. I did not have a big sexual appetite, and I had no morning woods at all. But overall, I felt like my body and my mind were well and better connected. I broke the fast slowly and started again the work out. I regained all my mass within 30 days, and I kept going with my plan.
I read the book ‘You are the Placebo’, by Joe Dispenza. It gave me a different look on the phenomenon of PFS, and on my ability to fight it. There is real evidence of the placebo effect: The best medications need systematically to be tested against the placebo effect in a double-blind experiment because it is a serious rival to actual medication. Why? How is the placebo really working? There is no way to avoid the conclusion that your mental state really does affect your health. And this effect also exists in its evil counterpart, namely, negative thoughts can and will harm you. It is known as the nocebo effect. The nocebo alone cannot explain PFS; 5 alpha inhibitors really did break some important feedback loops of your endocrine system… But I strongly think that the nocebo effect can explain the self-fulfilling prophecy of those who write and believe (and almost pray) that their side effects are incurable, and that there is nothing to do to get out of PFS. So I fought the nocebo, and instead I welcomed the placebo in my mind through meditation. I used guided meditations from Joe Dispenza, as well as unguided ones. I saw myself healed. Really. I felt gratefulness to the point that I frequently got into tears, thankful of being healthy. It might have looked like a sort of lie at the beginning, but you know, force a smile really hard and you should end up with a real smile :-). So I managed to actually feel genuine gratefulness by thinking of all the health that I did have, rather than focusing on the health that I did not have. After all, almost everything in my body and in my mind is operating so well. I’ve got good eyes, I can run, I can ski, I can talk and think and smile and feel emotions and dance with the world out there! I won the lottery of being alive and yes, healthy! So I started to really believe myself and the nocebo (Latin for I shall harm) turned into a placebo (I shall please).
I discovered the biodynamic craniosacral therapy. This consists of lying comfortably on a massage table, well rested. The therapist would put his hand on my sacrum, on my crane or on some other part of my body for a long period of time with the intention of fully listening to my body, and grounding it. It gave me such a deep rest. Deeper than deep sleep, but I remained kind of awake. For those into yoga, it is a one-hour-long deep Savasana. My body rediscovered his blueprint. Each time I came back from craniosacral, I felt extremely tired, and weak. But the next morning… I was harder than I had ever been, and I felt great and energized and sexual. And the sex was good. Purposefully, I did not read on how craniosacral works. But it works. Together with having the right mindset, if there is one element in my recovery that I would most enthusiastically recommend, it is this one. I was fortunate enough to have found a great therapist. He is finely tuned in his heart-mind-body connection. He is sensible. I trusted him and I believe that this is a key for a successful practice. Guys near Montreal who would be open to try, I could put you in touch with my therapist.
I read the book ‘The French art of not giving a shit’, by Fabrice Midal. It taught me a subtlety in this whole process. Strictness to follow the plan should not be in contradiction with the love and the softness that you bring to yourself. Choose you. Love you. So at the beginning I was going to the gym in a military mood. ‘Follow your plan, Charles. Push hard, it’s your way out of PFS’. Later, I became more something like ‘Let’s do some triceps exercises, and as you do them, feel the blood flowing in your whole body, bringing about the hormones and enzymes that make you feel great, enjoy it.’ I became more sensible, more at peace with myself. More at peace with my mistakes, including the mistake of having taken Finasteride. It is at that moment that I forgave myself. And I also forgave the doctor who prescribed it to me. He only did his job, to the best of his knowledge. It removed a big weight on my shoulders. I also realized that the psychiatrist and the endocrinologist who told me to have projects and not to think so much about by symptoms gave me some great advice, some advice that I wasn’t willing to take seriously back then.
I even started to feel thankful for PFS to have happened to me, because I realized all that I have learnt. I learnt about male optimization, sure, but more importantly I learnt about me, I learnt to change my habits and to be sensible, open-hearted. The plan dissolved into my lifestyle. I was looking forward to no longer be rigid with myself anymore, but to be alive. The timing was ripe because the 8 months were coming to the end. I knew that I was to be kidnapped by my friends on March 30th, 2018 for my bachelor party… I wanted to live it with no injunctions.
At that time, my 4 unregulated hormones tested normal again. I was feeling so much better, the side effects almost completely disappeared. For instance, testicle pain could be felt only if I stopped to think hard about it for 30 seconds. But then, was I creating the pain? I knew that nourishing those thoughts were only harmful. It was more than time to stop thinking about PFS, and live my life to the fullest!
Being a Party Animal Again: Free and Healed
5:30 AM, March 30th, 2018. My fiancée wakes me up and takes me to the car blindfolded. After the car ride, I hear the suitcase rolling and planes taking off. When I open my eyes, I see 22 boys with a red camisole, my face on it. Although I had my first sip of alcohol the night before with my fiancée, toasting to her unshakeable support, I had my first party mood drinking even before the plane took off!
The boys took me to Nicaragua for a week, they rented a villa for us all. The parties were insane. Each single night/day/morning was like a best party of the year! I had so much fun. I found that meditating deeply and partying like an animal were more alike than different: I was being here and now, completely aware and free! (OK… at some point, yes, awareness dims out ;-)) I had no thought for PFS. Why would I? I was healed! So much that my sexual energy was so intense that to remain faithful to my future wife, it is not just ‘no alcohol’ and ‘no coffee’ that I had to bypass…
A Smooth Transition Into ‘Normal’ Life
One can think that the hung over from such a week after being a monk of health would be hard, but strangely it wasn’t! Before my bachelor party, my plan was more like a lifestyle. So I didn’t return to the plan, obligated by some military discipline, rather, I returned to the healthy lifestyle of caring about my body, my mind and my heart (through exercise, healthy diet, supplement if necessary, meditation, yoga, positive thinking, gratitude…). It was not so much about whether I should eat quinoa or sorghum; it became (and still is) about eating well, according to what my body asks for. It was not so much about doing HIIT twice a week and pushing weigh 3 times; It became (and still is) about going for a run because I’m feeling it and playing sports or pushing my own weight for the fun of it. It was not so much about ‘no coffee!’ and ‘no alcohol!’; it became (and still is) about being sensible and wise about it. I don’t like getting smashed. It disconnects me from my awareness… unless I am really having fun, and this is called a great party (which, of course, can’t happen so often otherwise they can’t be great anymore).
Preparing the wedding was fun. Every day, PFS was taking less and less RAM from my brain. Either CDnuts or English wrote that the point is to make PFS a footnote in the Book of your life, not the subject of the Book! Well, the day we got married, in August 2018, PFS was nothing but a footnote; the problem was solved. My heart was full of love and my wife was beautiful.
Reflecting Back on It
As I am writing these lines, in November 2020, I realize that perhaps PFS was not only a footnote in my life. It was a meaningful event, and a desirable one. Unlike in February 2017, if I could change the past, I would not. Solving a problem means so much more than avoiding it. Today, I recognize even more the value of optimism: Yes, problems are soluble, given the right knowledge.
I can’t explicitly point the knowledge that was required in the solution, but, clearly, the protocols advocated by CDnuts and by English, which inspired my own protocol, contain the solution. Reduce gut inflammation, eat well, supplement on the material needed to regulate hormones, push hard, run fast, cut coffee, cut alcohol, write the plan down, honour it, keep your libido for your partner, have projects, have fun, meditate, fast (if you think it’s right for you), try biodynamic craniosacral therapies, be grateful of what you have, forgive yourself for your mistakes, free yourself of hatred, see yourself healed, really, and be healed.
My original writing of the first section was:
‘[…] After only six days taking the pills, I stopped, expecting for the sides to stop also.
I believe that they would have stopped, like in 2015, if I did not enact a terrible idea: I opened the internet to see the studies about Finasteride to then discover that Post Finasteride Syndrome was a thing. As I was reading case studies and testimonies, my testicles were hurting more and more. I discovered the devastating idea that my symptoms might last forever. This was perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I was profoundly desperate. […]’
I removed the paragraph, because it was not faithful of what I was thinking back then, and also, because I didn’t want to lose readers who could get the impression that I am diminishing PFS to the frustrating ‘It’s just in your head’. No, it is not just in your head. But still, I think that my PFS story can be summarized by a battle of the mind between two self-fulfilling prophecies:
‘My symptoms will last forever’ vs ‘At the wedding, I am healed’.
Of course, naive will power, alone, won’t get you far. But by connecting to a meaningful goal, by writing down your own version of ‘At the wedding, I am healed’, you will be driven. You’ll sit down, you’ll read, you’ll write down a plan, you’ll disappear from the forum and you’ll honour your plan. The more you’ll honour it, the more you’ll start thinking that your wish will be granted, that you will be healed. This positive loop not only provides motivation, but it leverages the placebo effect, which, by a process not yet understood, gets your body to heal.
One last thing. I like to break walls: The plan that I wrote down did not intimidate me. I am fully aware that this might not be your reality. You might have never gone to the gym, and just thinking about it makes you vomit. But habits can be changed and the most solid and reliable way to do it is incrementally. Perhaps your sixth plan will be more intense than mine, but the first one will only involve goals that you can easily realize, so you will honour it! Four months per plan and in two years from now, you have PFS behind you. What a beautiful irony will it be that PFS has itself a side effect, the one of making you a wall breaker! The book ‘Mini Habits’ by Stephen Guise might be of good help.
I was looking forward to bringing back some hope on the forum and now is a meaningful moment for me to do so, for my worst fear has been proven to be a ghost. After a single month trying, my wife just tested pregnant.
Dear guys, dear men, dear gentlemen, I wish you the best on your journey. It is much easier and much more rewarding to heal PFS than to change the past. So heal it. Do it for you, you deserve it!