Playing Snooker with a Rope

That headline is just one of a lengthy list of euphemisms in the Sicktionary, an online source of ways to laugh at the limp and the lonely (

It is a euphemism for erectile dysfunction, a sexual ailment that describes the male body’s inability to maintain an erection during sexual activity. Hence, playing snooker with a rope, limp noodle, floppy jalopy, pink puncture, Mary Celeste, brewers’ droop. Good, now we’ve got that out of the way, you can stop sniggering in the back, sit up and pay attention.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common ailment for males in the their late 40s or over 50. In Ireland, it is estimated more than 50% of the male population experience it.( For people like me, with haemochromatosis, an iron overload in my blood, it is a symptom.

Men might not mind sharing a joke about it but they don’t want to admit to it, even when it is so common and easily treated. If it isn’t treated you can add stress, loss of confidence and marital disruption to your list of problems.

In haemochromatosis, it is diagnosed as hypogonadism or the under-production of sperm or testosterone. Since the symptoms of iron overload appear in men approaching their 40s, they may already be manifesting hypogonadism, but don’t want to talk about it.(

If you notice you’re losing body hair, muscle definition and, of course, erectile dysfunction, combined with extreme fatigue and aching limbs, chances are you need to visit a doctor and ask them to run a ferritin blood test to determine the level of iron in your blood.

It’s a difficult thing to get through but believe me, it’s common and a relief when it gets sorted. I will admit to going on an Egyptian holiday, myself. Yup, I was ‘in denial’ a full cruise, which, on reflection, might have been appreciated by my sexual partners of the time as I tended to ‘overcompensate’ in other areas. There’s a joke about an Irishman’s concept of foreplay is to buy his partner a bag of chips before sex. If that’s the case, then I laid on a three course meal with champagne and a live band.

The answer for me was a monthly injection of testosterone which, hilariously, had the opposite effect. The box said, ‘may experience some erectile discomfort’ but that meant my ‘morning glory’ suddenly turned in to a 7/11, like there was a corporate takeover in my trousers, the pink darth vader moved in and erected a trouser tent. Happily, time and custom help it settle. My muscle definition returned, the ‘moobs’ retracted and the hair grew back on my legs, chest and arms.

Now, I get a three month dose of testosterone, a self injecting needle that would scare the bejaysus out of The Rock and an intramuscular jab in the buttocks, recovered my self confidence and can say, ‘how’re you doin’? with a meaningful glint.