Hair coloring and facial treatments like Botox help many people look and feel younger, but increasingly, more men are seeking a way to feel younger. In record numbers, they're seeking a way boost to the male hormone testosterone.
We've seen the ads that warn of low testosterone, the male hormone that builds muscle, controls fat, and improves sex drive. They show a man concerned about less energy, moodiness and a low sex drive.
Urologist Dr. Gregory Lowe at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says he has seen patients come in asking for the hormone even without documented low testosterone levels.
Many of them are receiving it, too. Online ads offer a dizzying number of products. There are over-the-counter supplements at health stores, as well hormone injections from doctors or prescription gels.
The number of men taking testosterone has increased five times since 2000, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The ads seem to promise that a gel, pill, or shot that is the cure for what's being called "low-T."
Dr. Lowe says it’s tough to define what is truly a low testosterone level. He says testosterone numbers drop as men age and can fluctuate day to day.
However, some men can use the help, like Jerry Cordray of Thornville. He installs electrical lines for corporate computers. At one point, he says he became moody and struggled both on and off the job.
"My mind would just wander. I'd totally forget about what I'm doing. I couldn't keep a thought in my head; no energy,” says Cordray.
Then a doctor checked his testosterone level. Jerry discovered his level was down to 78, which he says is the equivalent to a man who has been castrated.
Jerry now takes shots of the hormone under the supervision of Dr. Lowe. He was feeling better within weeks. But Dr. Lowe warns that giving the hormone to men who don't need it, could cause trouble.
"When we start giving patients supplementation with it, we're telling their body not to make it any more. And so we're disrupting a normally functioning system,” Lowe cautions.