Unnecessary Orchiectomy

 Posted by on September 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm  Characters, Season 4
Sep 102010

So I found this website. It’s what I do.

Anyway, so if Cooper had a bilateral orchiectomy in the 1930s or 1940s, there wouldn’t have been testosterone available in pill form, right? With the reduced testosterone, wouldn’t it be unlikely for him to have a beard and a deep voice?

And if he only had one testicle removed, wouldn’t he still be functionally virile?


  41 Responses to “Unnecessary Orchiectomy”

  1. An orchiectomy would not have changed his voice. In the old days, boy sopranos with especially lovely voices were sometimes made castrati. Once a boy enters puberty, his voice changes permanently.

    As to the beard? Testosterone was first synthesized in 1939; Wikipedia calls the 1930’s through the 1950’s “The Golden Age of Steroid Chemistry.”


  2. Yeah, I think the people who’ve called Roger out for hyperbole are probably right on this one. One ball is probably gone, but two? Hmmm…

  3. Or maybe not Bridget is far better informed than I am!

  4. Well, I haven’t weighed in on the one ball or two issue….

  5. Can I ask a question (and I suppose if I went back and watched Roger’s comment about the dr to Bert again I might find out)?

    When Roger was complaining about doing biz with the Japanese and asked Bert if they should call Dr Evans in, what was his point? It had to have some linkage to the WWII/whether to do business with the Japanese argument. Was Roger suggesting that Dr Evans screwed up because, in some way, of WWII (i.e, as in came back a drunk who screwed up the operation as a result)? Or was he telling Bert that, if Bert had a pair, he would stand up to the youngsters and decline the chance to do business with Honda?

  6. I, for one, don’t believe a word of it until we get some kind of confirmation apart from Roger’s drunken fantasies.

    But as for testosterone not being available – it was. In the 1940’s it was being touted in some circles as a rejuventation therapy for aging men, including those with all glands intact.

  7. I schkieve this entire thread.

  8. Lee jr jr: I think Roger might be referring to the fact that by bringing in the Japanese, they were not acting like men. They might as well castrate him. Bring in Dr. Lyle Evans to complete the job.

    I have to wonder: In this day and age when we talk about everything (or at least can see/read about it on the internet), I have never heard the term orchiectomy — even in the case of the most famous orchiectomy of our time — Lance Armstrong. How likely would it have been for Don to instantly know that term and what it meant?

  9. #5 – I think Roger’s point was about doing business with “the enemy.” For Bert, apparently his biggest enemy is or was Dr. Lyle Evans. Guess that’s why he had him killed! 😉

  10. I have heard orchiectomy before (and i have no ties to the medical profession). Orchis is the Greek word for testicles, apparently.

    Still say Roger was just making that stuff up to amuse himself, though, until we hear otherwise.

  11. A bf of mine was a preemie and one of his testicles didn’t descend on schedule. Since those testicles have a giant risk of cancer, he had that one testicle removed when he was a teenager.

    He had no problems “performing”, however I think they told him he might have problems fathering kids.

  12. I had heard the term through research for a music history paper. Maybe young Dick heard it from a vet who came to the farm to castrate animals.

  13. Apparenty Peggy was familiar with the term then too, when she heard it, right? Or did she only know because Don said, “Cooper has no balls?!”?

  14. In the meeting I thought Bert was trying to tell Roger to pipe down. In retaliation Roger brought up Dr. Lyle Evans, in other words, he was saying “no you shut up or I’ll tell everybody you have no balls!” Didn’t Bert walk out at that point?

  15. #8 – Not sure how, but I knew the meaning of the word immediately. Maybe b/c I’ve had dogs neutered in the past (?)

  16. I can attest that one-testicled types can father kids just fine! My husband and I have two (kids, that is).

  17. I’m vaguely recalling something I read in that wonderful book “Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Sex*…*But Were Afraid To Ask”, in which Dr. Reuben explained about a particular type of German antipersonnel mine developed during WWII, which consisted of 2 charges: the first detonated when it was stepped on, the second detonated after a short time delay (when the main charge had been thrown about crotch-height on an average adult male by the first detonation), causing damage concentrated in the lower pelvic region. The text discussion was about how some men, despite complete loss of this part of the endocrine system thanks to wounds caused by this mine, were still able to “function” sexually. Researchers finally figured out that the adrenal glands atop the kidneys also produce testosterone, and in the absence of the major testosterone factories, these glands produced more testosterone, in some cases enough that the affected men were still able to have sex with their wives/girlfriends despite their injuries.

    I snuck that book out of my parents’ library (back in the early 70s) and devoured it. That’s one factoid that’s stuck with me.

  18. I vote for #8…

  19. I’m thinking Bert had the mumps, back before there was a mumps vaccine, and that’s why he had to have the procedure.

    Depending on the age at which Bert had the procedure, he could have still gone through puberty. You have hormones in other parts of your body that would be enough to generate facial and other hair.

    (Poor Bert, that he is the subject of this kind of chatter 🙂

  20. I’m delighted with all this medical information that I didn’t have.

    Coop, I looked up “schkieve” and this very thread came up as the #1 hit.

  21. Somehow I missed that Bert had Dr. Lyle Evans killed. Can you please help me? Thanks.

  22. First, I’m glad I didn’t fall for all of you calling Dr. Lyle Evans a “red herring” just because your googling didn’t pan out. It was obvious Bert knew what Roger was referring to, and we’d eventually find out.

    Second, if Roger had this kind of info on Bert, he’d either be hinting like this all the time, or use it only when he really needed to. Throwing it out there suddenly in ep 3 of S4 over the potential Japanese client was kind of clumsy. Surely he would have quipped something when Bert & Don were trying desperately to get him on board for SCDP.

    Not that it’s a horrible retcon, but think of the possibilities that were missed!

  23. #21 Thelma, having Dr. Evans killed was mentioned in Roger’s rambling dictaphone tape.

  24. #23 Brenda and #21 Thelma, But he was just kidding.

    I think.

  25. Testosterone in pill form, over time, tend to be very hard on the liver.

    The preferred method to administer it is with injections, or the newer patch and topical ointment method.

  26. #8
    Maybe Don keeps a dictionary in his desk and looks up words he doesn’t know as part of his self-education.

  27. Roger said it was an “unnecessary” orchiectomy; he didn’t specify that it was bilateral. But even if it was bilateral, if it happened well into adulthood, it wouldn’t much have affected his voice or his hair-growing abilities. And yeah, I wouldn’t put it past Roger to have made the whole thing up, anyway, or at least have told a “stretcher.”

    Now, how Don knew what an orchiectomy was, I don’t know. The farm vet would be most likely; it doesn’t seem probable that Don went to the kind of high school that offered advanced Latin classes, or that he took that at night school.

  28. I guess Don and Peggy might have run across it in their general reading – they’ve been shown to be avid readers on a variety of topics.

  29. I honestly can’t believe we’re having the vocabulary discussions.

    Show of hands if you didn’t know the word before the episode, but figured it out from the context?

    See? There are a lot of us!

  30. LOL. Didn’t mean to start a heated debate. 🙂

    Well, I grew up on a farm, with lots of visits from the vet AND I’m an avid reader. But I’m no Don Draper. I have just never heard that term. And, yes, Ms. Lipp, I figured it out from context, as I’m sure Peggy did, too!

  31. I’m raising my hand, Deborah. Context! *woot*

  32. I’m not a man, but I believe having even one testicle removed, unnecessarily or not, would have a major psychological affect on a man. I do not think that Roger would refer to it casually either. I mean, Don’s worked with them for years and Roger never mentioned it to him once.

  33. Oh, and a big hand raise here. I figured it out moments before Don said what it meant.

  34. órkhis is Greek for “testicle.” (In keeping with the Classical themes noted in the last episode?) Wikipedia explains that John Lindley coined the term Orchidaceae in 1845 for the family of flowers, many of which “have two subterranean tuberous roots.”

    “Orchidaceous” can refer to the plants or can mean “showy & ostentatious.” I swear I remember hearing that a TV guest made William F Buckley blush by using the word in conversation. (No confirmation on the ‘net.)

    I knew the word(s) & had an idea of the etymology. But I’m a veritable fount of useless information!

  35. FASCINATING post and comments!!

    Like Miss Kim above, I can attest that men with ‘just one’ can function fine. I had an ex with ‘just one’; he performed normally and had gotten (or claimed to have gotten) 2 women pregnant before we dated (though both pregnancies had been terminated – as it turned out the guy was a doofus and I blame neither of these women for not wanting to bear his child).

    We only dated a few months and I never inquired as to the cause or nature of his situation, but he did mention once that he’d been born a month or so premature. Also, his ‘hole’ was unusually positioned, more on the side than at the end, where it’s usually located. Not sure about the relationship there.


  36. Two Thoughts: 1) I’m still hung up (bad pun, sorry) about why Bert had to have this “procedure” in the first place. If in fact he actually did–I mean has Roger seen the evidence in the men’s room? In his condition, I would think poor Mr. Cooper would be actively asserting his privilege for the (private) Executive Men’s Room you always hear about.

    2) Remember that Pete was supposedly (although it turned out erroneously) rendered sterile by the mumps in Season 2? He seems to be okay (at least in the manhood department.

  37. “If in fact he actually did–I mean has Roger seen the evidence in the men’s room? “

    If it IS true, my guess is that Roger heard it from his father.

    As for the unnecessary part, the most likely scenario I can imagine is that cancer was suspected, the doctor wanted to jump in and do the full procedure instead of taking a small sample first, and then the biopsy came back negative.

  38. #37: Re cancer: That’s probably true. Treating cancer, especially in the 20’s and 30’s, had not evolved to the sophisticated procedures we have today–and if you didn’t die outright, they usually yanked everything regardless of whether they needed to or not. Yet another reason to be glad we’re in the 21st century

  39. I’m not so sure things are completely different – the reason that came to mind is that the same thing nearly happened to me a few years ago. The doctor suspected ovarian cancer, and he said that there was no point wasting time with tests – he was scheduling me for a complete oopharectomy and hysterectomy the next day. When I hesitated at having major surgery when it might not be needed, he started off on how women over 30 didn’t need those organs anyway, and I ought to be thanking him for sparing me the expense of ultrasounds and scans. I immediately found another doctor, but I can’t help suspecting that that attitude is more common than I’d like it to be.

  40. I don’t think they specified whether one or both of Bert’s balls were removed, but my guess is both. First, he never had children. Second, Don said “Cooper has no balls” (plural). Of course Don has no way of knowing just from the bit we heard on the tape, but maybe Roger talked about it and Don just didn’t share the rest with Peggy?

  41. #40: Melissa, Happened to check back in this morning and read your post. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. I didn’t want to get too personal in my initial posting, but as a cancer survivor myself, I can tell you that doctors are still guilty of not providing clear information or listening to their patients. I’m currently going through this myself as the side effects from the post-cancer medication I’m taking are so debilitating that I feel I have no choice but to stop–it’s a huge decision and one for which the medical community has neither good answers or even acknowledges.

    That said, I do think there are a few key differences between the way medicine was practiced in MM and now: First, I DO think mds have more tools at their disposal to fight cancer and that surgery is far less invasive that it would have been then; second, in the MM era, we saw that it was common to either not tell patients about life-threatening illnesses (Anna) or completely disregard their wishes, violate their confidentiality or give them good info (Betty). I know that there is still a long way to go, but I do think the doctor-as-god mentality is something that is less acceptable today; if for no other reason than fear of malpractice suits, doctors are obligated to give their patients more information. Just the mere fact that you decided your md was being too hasty and decided to go elsewhere speaks volumes about how the doctor-patient relationship has changed.

    Also, as we may see in MM, the late sixties early seventies was when more “alternative” “holistic” treatments began to ease their way into healthcare, and that doctors started realizing quality of life is equally if not more important than merely preserving it. Granted, there is a long way to go, especially depending upon what part of the country you live in, (and I could go on and on about the inequities of healthcare coverage in this country, etc), but I do think there has been a paradigm shift in this country in that the doctor is no longer regarded as the all-seeing, all-knowing savior he/she was earlier in our country’s history–and, like everything else on the show, MM takes that on.

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