[Webinar Recording] Men and Parkinson’s

Men and Parkinson's panel Davis Phinney Foundation

Parkinson’s can affect nearly every system in your body and may touch nearly every aspect of your life. So, it’s no surprise that understanding sex and gender differences and how they impact Parkinson’s is an important consideration for living well.

This webinar focuses on issues experienced by men living with Parkinson’s and includes information and opinions shared among panelists Allan Cole, PhD (professor UT/Austin), Danny Bega, MD (urologist), Michael S. Fitts, MS, Arun Mather, MD (urologist), and Kent Toland, MD (urologist, retired). The panel discussed a variety of topics, including:

  • Common concerns and challenges
  • “Plumbing” issues
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Medication strategies
  • ON times vs. OFF times
  • Reconciling self-image
  • Professional transitions, accommodations, and career modifications

To download the webinar audio, click here.

To download the webinar transcript, click here.

Show Notes

  • Following a Parkinson’s diagnosis, many men’s questions include, “What will I still be able to do, what will I no longer be able to do, and what can I do to slow down the progression?” Panelists also discussed with great candor the issues surrounding sexual performance and identity, care partner concerns, self-esteem, and the challenges of maintaining professional responsibilities while living with a condition that is progressively debilitating.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) is not uncommon for men living with Parkinson’s, though Parkinson’s may not be the only cause of the condition. Among men living with Parkinson’s, ED has been found to be caused by a combination of factors (of which Parkinson’s is only one): aging, prostate issues, lowered levels of dopamine, etc. The response to ED should involve strategies for all such possible causes.
  • Erectile dysfunction is a condition that is difficult to treat for men living with Parkinson’s. Panelists said that simple treatment with Viagra or Cialis is unlikely to be sufficient since those medications might improve performance, but they would not improve intimacy. What’s more important is seeking intimacy during those ON times (hours of the day when Parkinson’s medications are likely to be most effective) like early mornings, after a good night’s sleep (sleep being the time when dopamine restoration is most effective).
  • Panelists discussed concerns shared by many men in their desire to slow the progression of Parkinson’s and to identify strategies for maintaining levels of activity and exercise. Exercise and physical activity were commonly cited as the most effective means of combatting the progression of Parkinson’s. Consistent exercise was considered the best way to remain fit, maintain self-esteem, assist in redefining yourself, and realize your own value. Those living with Parkinson’s rarely die of Parkinson’s: the most common causes of death are heart and vascular issues. Exercise is the cure for those and the means to the clarity and optimism that allow you to live well each day.

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about the speakers

Allan Cole, PhD

Allan Cole serves as deputy to the president for societal challenges and opportunities at The University of Texas at Austin (UT). He is also a Bert Kruger Smith Centennial Professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and, by courtesy, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Dell Medical School. Cole’s research and teaching interests include chronic illness, health humanities, and mental health. He is the author or editor of 13 books and the author of dozens of chapters, articles, and reviews in volumes and journals related to the fields of social work, counseling, and the psychology of religion. He also serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Spirituality and Religion in Social Work: Social Thought (Taylor & Francis). Professor Cole serves on the Board of Trustees at Headwaters School. He also serves on the Board of Directors at Power for Parkinson’s and moderates PD Wise, an online hub he created for sharing personal stories, experiences, and wisdom gained from living with Parkinson’s that aims to encourage personal connections and opportunities for learning.

Michael S. FittsMichael S. Fitts

Michael S. Fitts serves as assistant dean for user access and diversity at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB Libraries). He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011 at age 38.

In 2001 he became the first African American faculty member of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences and later went on to become both the first African American assistant director and assistant dean. In 2015, Michael was appointed to the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative — an organization whose primary goal is to promote the health and wellness of people with disabilities.

In addition to his more than 20-year career with UAB, he serves as an advocate for the education of those with early-onset Parkinson’s by being as an example of living successfully and productively with the disease.   

Danny Bega, MD, MSCI

Danny Bega is a fellowship trained, board-certified, movement disorders neurologist and Associate Professor of Neurology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He has completed medical school at Rush University and clinical training in neurology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Dr. Bega has expertise in the care and management of patients with a variety of movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease. He is also the Program Director for the neurology residency at Northwestern. He has completed master’s level training in clinical investigations through the Northwestern Graduate School and is the principal investigator for several industry-sponsored clinical trials. His primary area of interest is the study of complementary and non-pharmacologic interventions in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and their impact on quality of life, and he has received several grants to carry out this research.

Arun Mather, MD

A native of Nova Scotia, Dr. Mathur received his Bachelor of Science degree and Doctor of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He went on to specialize in urologic surgery at the same institution. He finished his training at the University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Hospital with a fellowship in Urodynamics and female incontinence. A significant part of the training included cancer surgery.  
Arun worked for a period of time in Sudbury, Ontario prior to moving to Oshawa in 1997. Since moving to Oshawa he has developed a large general urologic practice with emphasis on laparoscopic surgery, oncology and female incontinence. In 2014 he took on the role of Medical Director of the Surgical Program at Lakeridge Health and in the same year added the role of Adjunct I Associate Professor at Queens University teaching Family Practice residents. 

Kent Toland, MD

Kent is 63 yearold and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013He completed his residency in Urology at the University of Colorado, following which henjoyed a 25year fulfilling career in the field. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon and is married with five children and two grandchildren who live close by. Kent tries to live well every day by staying physically active, skiing, hiking and cycling and is a Team DPF member, having participated in Ride the Rockies in 2019 and 2021. 

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