Massage onto bare skin. Then wash your hands, immediately. Those were the instructions, printed on the creased insert that came folded and re-folded into a tiny origami message in a cardboard box containing my “bio-identical” testosterone. The inner thighs or flanks were suggested. Since as far as I know only horses have flanks, I went with the thighs. The bit about scrubbing off “immediately” hinted that this was dangerous stuff, man. The “Now rev that souped-up hot-rod, baby!” was implied.

Well, I can tell you, I did not hesitate. I slapped that stuff on my inner-thighs every day, freezing my buttcoks off while counting down the recommended number of minutes for it to absorb before I could pull on my tights, and waited for my engine to start purring. Before I reveal what happened, let us pause to ruminate on what it was I was expecting to happen. Why, after all, would I be taking testosterone? ‘Because the blood tests indicated that my hormone levels were on the low end of the normal range’ is far too easy. Dishonest even. I haven’t been diagnosed with clinically low levels of the hormone, (and I use the term as though I actually went to med school and know what it means). Still, I get that we’re in “optimizing” territory. So what am I really after from this top-up of my tank?

Some people prefer to candy-coat these things, but I like to call it what it is: Sex. And success. Not necessarily in that order. Testosterone is a proxy for male and all the masculinized – and therefore, in our society, prized – traits. Traits like strength, competitive drive and yes, sex drive. Juiced up on he-man hormone, the male musculature is eye-watering; he is competitive; focussed, like a heat-seeking missile in pursuit of his goals; his libido voracious, and not merely in terms of his appetite for sex, but lust for life.

My dismal testosterone test score is akin to getting a D¯ at Life from Lancet Laboratories. I was a capital F for Failure, the wimp getting sand kicked in my eye, or worse: Female. Preying on the insecurities of the middle-aged woman (I mean, whatever you might have thought about being a woman in a man’s world, try being a middle-aged one), I was a soft target for the doctor-cum-salesman. Ignoring the obvious conflict of interest of a medical practice profiting from what its medical practitioners prescribe, I let him sell me a brand spanking new version of myself:

Dosed up on jungleberry juice, I’d be that little bit more aggressive – no more spineless, gutless, chinless conflict avoidance in the mom-petition stakes, that horrible puckered granny’s mouth around my belly-button would be gone, gone. I’d be bolder, more daring, sexier – in the serrated, predatory style of Mrs Robinson when she could still unzip poor Benjamin’s flies at thirty paces with one flicker of a half-slit eye. I’d say stuff to Mark like, “Do you feel sexually fulfilled in this relationship?”.

So, what happened? I know you’re practically begging me to spill my guts, so, here it is …

After about a week of the inner thigh massage routine, I flopped down on the couch in the TV room after a long day in the suburban Gulag – jerking spasmodically up and down the true face of evil that is the William Nicol, from the school car park to the vet, where Champers was having, oh the irony, blood tests on her liver function, to the queue at Woollies, to boot camp, most of which I had to spend fighting to silence the voices in my head urging me with particular hatred to Kill the trainer, Kill him now! And then, without thinking, I swear, I leapt over to where Mark was spread-eagled on his couch and started snogging him passionately.

Really? I hear you ask, snorting derisively. No, lie. I just didn’t want to sound like a loser when my sex life is shorthand nowadays for the health of my relationship and my psyche. That’s why everyone tells porkies on those Durex surveys – desperate to at least make it to the bottom of what is sold to us as the normal range of “a couple of times a week”. Otherwise, you’re just roomies, and that’s the death knell, isn’t it? Personally I was sick of my low libido (and let’s be clear, compared to the benchmark of Mark’s) being down to my sexual repression, caused by the shaming messages I unconsciously internalised about sex as a child. That sort made me into an impotent victim. I was relieved when it turned out to be due to hormonal deficiency. I could just pump up the jam and poof it’d be a party in the bedroom. Sadly, admittedly mostly for Mark, I have to report that after three months of smearing on my snake oil every morning, I am still me.

No different. At all. And you know what? I’ve decided, screw it, it’s men who should be apologising for their abnormal libidos and reading self-help books and getting prescriptions to cool their loins, dammit. And I have more than enough aggro coursing through my veins. For one thing I’m South African. And for another, I listen to 702, in the traffic for God’s sake. On the William Nicol. And for far too long, like G @ Momastery, I have lived with the middle finger in my face. Hyperbolic? Try this …

  • The boot camp hot shot doesn’t even pant after thirty push-ups while I try to lighten the mood with a good whinge.
  • All these judgy-mcjudgy women who used to swap their natural child birth war stories in front of me – because they knew about my elective caesars – went on to becaome Class Moms. That’s what I’m telling you, man.
  • People write posts on Facebook featuring the words “blessed” and “precious” in relation to their children, even though I have publically called for them to be blocked. Or shot.
  • Right now, people are Banting their middle finger at me, while I am scoffing a muffin. How passive-agressive can you get?
  • And accountants in spandex are out there pedalling against other accountants in spandex in preparation for the Sani-to-Voetsek at me.

Well I say enough. In the aftermath of my failed testosterone experiment, I’m ready to concede the possibility that some of those accountants only ever wanted the souvenir t-shirt to wear on Casual Friday. Or they just like the feel of the spandex against their skin. Some of them might not even care what I think. It’s time, in other words, to embrace my oestrogen.

Amen, sista

P.S. I just flushed the rest of my testosterone tube down the toilet. It made a lovely gurgling noise as it swirled down the bowl.


photo credit: <a href=””>Atomische * Tom Giebel</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>