In August of last year Sir Ian Botham made front page news by revealing that
he had undergone a new treatment for erectile dysfunction. ‘Wow!’ I spluttered
into my three shredded wheat…I had not imagined that my greatest sporting
hero and one of the few British icons of machismo and virility, would ever need
any help in the bedroom department. It got me thinking though. Having just
turned fifty and been married for the last five years to a woman nearly fifteen
years my younger, ‘performance’ had become something of a worry – I could
not honestly award myself a straight ten these days as I had done in my youth.
‘A soft seven – could be harder’ may have been Len Goodman’s unimpressed
response accompanied by a polite ripple of applause.
As a smoker, a drinker and former lads mag editor, who seemed to spend
most of the nineties and noughties either at a party or recovering from one, it
should have come as no surprise last year to discover that I wasn’t always firing
on all cylinders. Apparently impotence affects 60 per cent of men over the age
of 60 so maybe it makes sense to do something about it before then? Like many
men who like a drink but fear the droop, I had experimented with Viagra over
the years but found it to be a less than ideal solution. Firstly you need to take it
about three quarters of an hour before having sex and as any man knows,
whether married or not, sex is a slippery concept which is NEVER guaranteed.
Secondly it has a habit of giving you a stonking headache, hammering heart,
feverish flushes and a tiresome and unsightly trouser tent for the next 24 hours.
Having been lucky enough to interview Botham for this newspaper a few years
ago, (and indeed go fishing and drinking with him) I had found him to be a
thoroughly entertaining and decent human being. I thought to myself, well if
this new treatment is good enough for Botham, then its good enough for me!
Two months later and I’m lying on my back, naked from the waist down with
my legs akimbo, up in stirrups and I’m beginning to regret my decision.
Between my knees sits something resembling a dalek which hums and whirs
ominously and has a large triangular probe on the end of its one arm. ‘He’s
called Renova,' explains John Ward the head of clinical services at Vigore, the
company who treated Botham.
Ward then coats Renova’s probe with a clear gel
and pushes it firmly into place under my right testicle. A flick of a switch and
suddenly this loud, manic metronomic ticking begins accompanied by a static
like tingling. ‘This will click 1600 times sending out a low intensity shockwave
each time and when it’s finished we’ll do the same on the left side,’ he explains.
It transpires that this procedure was stumbled upon by accident in Germany in
the early 1980s when doctors pioneered kidney stone zapping with similar but high intensity shockwaves.
They soon discovered that an unintended side effect
of the treatment was the creation of clusters of new blood vessels in the affected
area. ‘These ultrasound shockwaves to your erectile tissue stimulate your cells
into undergoing angiogenesis,’ explains Ward over the cacophony of clicking,
‘it’s an entirely natural process that the body undertakes during growth or
healing so there are no side effects.’
1600 clicks on the left side later and it’s time for the final stage: 900 clicks on
each side of the shaft! I can only laugh at the sheer bizarreness of it all as a
bearded Liverpudlian man (Ward) literally velcroes my manhood to the side of
the dalek’s probe and flicks the switch.
Eventually the Dalek clicks its last and it is something of a relief to get my
trousers back on and head back out into the real world. The whole session has
lasted just twenty minutes but I can’t say that the time has flown by. The
minimum recommended course of treatment is four sessions over four
consecutive weeks. Accordingly, Ward and I repeat the process over each of the
next three weeks by which time any vestiges of shyness or embarrassment on
my part are long gone and we are old friends.
The accompanying blurb recommends that patients wait at least four weeks
before expecting any improvement. That said, a week later whilst sitting
watching television on the sofa, I notice a distinct but not unpleasant tingling in
the relevant area. It happens most days and Ward assures me that it is a common
and encouraging sign. Then in weeks three and four I find myself waking every
morning in a state of complete readiness and it reminds me of when I was a
teenager. With my wife having long left for work, however, it is of little use and
that also reminds me of when I was a teenager.
When the magic does actually
happen however, two people are very impressed by the results. I kid you not –
for the first time in five years I am complimented on my performance and, am
soon snoring the contented snore of a man restored. Having now had a couple of
months to experience its effects I can honestly say that Vigore works –it’s not
without its initial humiliations, but ultimately, it’s an easy solution for a hard