Empty sella syndrome (E.S.S) is basically a damaged pituitary gland. Either the gland has shrunk or has been crushed/flattened making it ‘look empty’ on an MRI scan. Partial Empty Sella is suggestive that some of the pituitary gland is visible during an MRI scan.
Symptoms of Empty Sella
When the term Empty Sella Syndrome is mentioned it does bring to mind vivid thoughts of actually having NO pituitary gland. Please Calm Down!! This is NOT the case most of the time. IF we had NO pituitary gland we would certainly know about it. The chances are that because you are reading up on Empty Sella. You have most likely had an MRI scan and a diagnosis made of E.S.S. You will have most likely been suffering some symptoms that have been affecting some or all of these glands/systems.
- Prolactin Levels
- Growth Hormones
The pituitary gland sits at the base of the brain and lives in a protective bone cavity called the “Sella Turcica” (Turkish Saddle in Latin)
Diagnosis is normally either Primary Empty Sella Syndrome or Secondary Empty Sella Syndrome
Primary E.S.S. suggests a hole has occured in the membrane protecting the pituitary gland allowing cerebrospinal spinal fluid to compress the pituitary gland so that it’s appearance is not dissimilar to that of a punctured football.
Secondary E.S.S. is when the Sella Turcica is empty (or at least it’s difficult to observe the pituitary gland) because of the pituitary gland being damaged by:
- A tumor
- Radiation Surgery
Treatment for Empty Sella Syndrome unfortunately is to manage any hormones that may be affected by ESS the same as with hypopituitarism. Empty Sella is a condition that is not life threatening BUT if it’s not managed effectively it can impact upon quality of life issues. Insist that you are getting all the follow up and care you should be!
Here is my own video discussing Empty Sella Syndrome
How Empty Sella has affected me?
Well I’m now in my late 30′s I was a happy go lucky kind of guy lucky enough to have a happy marriage and 3 beautiful children. My world took a turn for the worst about 3 or 4 years ago now. I was sat on a plane with a really bad cold and sinus problems and during landing I felt like I was having a stroke with an intense overwhelming pain in the centre of my head.Alas, because I had arrived in a foreign country I didn’t have many options open to me I just thought something bad had happened and I would see what would happen the next day.
Well after a while the intensity had worn off and I just started to feel off run down. I was doing a lot of flying with my work and burning the candle at both ends as a contractor. I started to notice a few subtle changes to the way I felt most of the time. In no particular order here is a list of what I was feeling.
- Loss of sex drive
- lack of sensation and unable to get wood.
- Hot flushes,
- Racing pulse and anxiety
- Putting weight on easily
- Swollen face
- Aching joints
- Unable to sleep
MY STORY and How I was Diagnosed with Empty Sella Syndrome
To cut a long story short. I went to my GP they dismissed me as either just “drinking too much” or “a bit depressed”. I was neither of those. After sitting on my back step crying I phoned the GP surgery for another appointment. I was luck enough to get an appointment with a locum GP. He did a full blood test.
My thyroid came back with a Hypothyroid TSH of 6.7 which was a little high but they just wanted to monitor it and told me Hypothyroidism was not my problem!! I knew that I felt really bad so I INSISTED on being referred to an Endocrinologist just incase it was my Thyroid. The GP only referred me because she said if I will not listen to her then maybe I will listen to him!!
Before getting my Endo appointment I suggested that they may wish to test the bloods he may wish to see. My testosterone came back very low. They then suggested checking my Prolactin. This came back high too!! My Endo told me they thought I had a Prolactinoma because of my symptoms and they then arranged an MRI scan.
This indeed showed that I had Empty Sella Syndrome. Apparently my other Hormones are ok, Adrenals ( I had a short synacthen test which I passed) Apparently my Growth Hormones are ok too.
So that leaves me with High Prolactin, Low Testosterone…. Hmmm. I don’t cope well with the Dopamine Agonist drugs. I have tried Cabergoline and Norprolac and both keep my mind racing and insomnia unable to shut my mind down. Oh and not forgetting constipation too! Don’t get me wrong these drugs are literally life savers but I don’t feel great when I cannot sleep!
I also get a crushing sensation in my head from using Cabergoline. It also makes me feel dizzy!
What other alternatives? Natural alternatives to Lower Prolactin in Men.
Agnus Castus/ Chasteberry
I am currently researching other ways of lowering my Prolactin, studies in Germany show that increased doses of Agnus Castus (Chasteberry) can lower serum Prolactin levels.
This herb has been used for centuries for soothing PMS and lowering the libido apparently! Lower doses of Chasteberry may actually increase Prolactin. I have heard that doctors may actually be using it in cases of mild hyperprolactinemia.. So this may work for me?
I would love to hear from any men using it to lower their Prolactin!!
“M.pruriens seeds contain high concentrations of levodopa, a direct precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for diseases including Parkinson’s disease” Quoted from Wikipedia
St Johns Wort may also affect Prolactin due to changing Dopamine levels: This may be why it’s one of natures natural anti depressants.
Vit B6 also may also Lower Prolactin
5 HTP is also another I need to further research even if only for it’s sleep inducing properties.
I currently use Dr Stuart’s Tranquility Tea for help with sleeping. Despite it tasting rank (in my opinion) The Valerian really seems to help knock me out!
I have just ordered “Goodness Greens” by Phil Richards as it contains watercress, spinach, broccoli and kale I am hoping that this will help lower my Prolactin.
Getting Help and Support or talking to others with Empty Sella Syndrome..
If you too are suffering from Empty Sella Syndrome I would love to hear from you at this facebook Support group.
If you like the page Empty Sella Syndrome Help and Support
I will send you an invite to join a private facebook group to discuss Empty Sella Syndrome privately.
Or feel free to leave a comment here and chat with me.
If you have naturally managed to lower your Prolactin levels using diet or Agnus Castus/ Chasteberry, Mucuna Pruriens, Vit B6 or St John’s Wort I would really appreciate you contacting me here!
Any advice on how to live with/improve Empty Sella please get in touch too!
Empty Sella is not the end. It just involves us having to learn/adapt to living with it and overcoming it. I wish anyone else out there suffering my best wishes.
I found this page click here to be particularly helpful with extra details about Empty Sella Syndrome
Empty Sella Syndrome, What is it? and it’s symptoms explained. Ranging from Partial Empty Sella advice, Just what it’s like living with a damaged / crushed pituitary gland and its effect on my Thyroid gland causing Hypothyroidism, Low Testosterone and causing High Prolactin in men. Covering How I attempt to lower Prolactin using naturally alternatives to Dopamine agonists like Cabergoline or Bromocriptine such as Vitex Agnus Castus ( Chasteberry ) and Mucuna Pruriens, Vitamin B6 and St Johns Wort. empty sella turcica is a condition that can be managed and here I share them with you! Please follow my progress at http://www,mytestosteronetherapy.com. I would love to hear your comments.