Executives and professionals in the United States have been seeking a controversial and expensive hormone replacement therapy to combat effects usually associated with stress and aging.
With just over 30 years, the American executive JG began to feel depressed and anxious. He had trouble sleeping, your libido was no longer the same, and more than he tried the gym and take care of food, could not achieve the results they wanted.
"The work also was wrong. Having to deal with stress, and competition magnified the symptoms, when there was fuel for them," says the executive, who asked not to be named.
"It ended with the desire and ambition to succeed," he said.
After trying treatments with antidepressants and anxiolytics, JG took the advice of a fellow gym and began hormone replacement therapy on their own.
Even without consulting a doctor, tried to take a small dose of testosterone, a hormone secreted by the testes of man and to a lesser extent by ovaries in women. Its concentration in the male body decreases with age and due to health problems.
"I took my first dose, and wow, it seemed that everything has turned around 180 degrees," he said to the BBC Brazil.
Suspecting that he might be suffering from the symptoms of declining testosterone in your body, see a doctor. After some tests, he prescribed a hormone replacement therapy.
Today 40, JG following treatment. Twice a week, injects himself small doses of testosterone and ensures that your life has improved in several respects.
"Ask my model girlfriend of 27 years," jokes the executive, who runs a management consulting venture capital in New York.
Despite praise for the treatment, some doctors have doubts about the effectiveness and possible collateral damage from the use of hormones, which could include cancer and heart problems.
The testosterone deficiency among men may be linked to birth defects, diseases, stress and side effects of certain medications.
Additionally, after 30 years of age, starts a gradual decline in production of the hormone in the organism.
Most of the testosterone used in hormone replacement therapies is produced in the laboratory from plants such as soy and yams.
Although the most common treatment for testosterone deficiency caused by health problems is hormone replacement, there is no conclusive studies on the effectiveness of injection of the hormone to combat symptoms normally associated with age.
Even so, many physicians maintains the benefits of treatment to combat aging. They have offered hormone replacement therapy to patients who complain of fatigue, difficulty losing weight, concentration and decreased libido.
Among them is Lionel Bissoon, who was known for developing a treatment for cellulite and currently manages a program of hormone replacement for men and women in his clinic in New York.
According to him, until the middle of the last decade, most of their patients consisted of women between 45 and 69 years. But the situation is reversed. Currently, about 85% are males between 30 and 69 years, many Wall Street executives.
"The men's biggest complaints are fatigue, tiredness and difficulty concentrating. Some complain of muscle pain. Many have no interest in sex. Some feel that there are more who used to be," Bissoon said the BBC Brazil.
The doctor says that, after a battery of tests, the patient can start treatment. Hormone replacement can be made by injection, orally or stickers. The patient himself applies his doses of testosterone.
"I teach my patients to apply, it is quite easy. It is not possible for a busy executive to have to go to a clinic for an injection two or three times a month, it is not practical," he says.
The great interest of men for hormone replacement treatments is not restricted to New York.
In the branch that serves the U.S. states of South Carolina and North Carolina Cenegenics network of clinics, for example, 68% of patients are men between 35 and 70 years.
"It's becoming more common younger men, with just over 30 years (seeking treatment)," says Michale Barber, MD and CEO of Cenegenics Carolinas.
Although the application of hormones can be made by the patient, he must go through a regular monitoring by doctors and is undergoing tests regularly, which may increase treatment costs.
To perform a hormonal treatment to combat the effects of aging on Cenegenics, you must pay on average $ 1000 per month.
"Our patients are paying for access to doctors, physiologists, nutritionists and laboratory monitoring," says Barber.
With 20 medical centers across the United States and more than 20 000 patients, Cenegenics uses as a poster boy for the doctor Jeffry Life, which operates in the company and is patient program to combat the effects of aging.
To show the results of treatment, the company uses photos and videos in the style "before and after" Life. In the first picture, the doctor comes up with a common body for a man of middle age. The other is one of those images that at first glance seem mounts (the company assures that it is not) and shows the same person with a bodybuilder body.
Despite the seemingly miraculous effects, questions remain about the safety of hormone replacement treatments to counter the effects of aging in healthy men.
Although practitioners of therapy to ensure that it is safe and can prevent diseases, others point out that it can stimulate the development of prostate cancer and cause heart problems.
Furthermore, studies show among the possible side effects of treatment of testicular atrophy and infertility, liver problems, fluid retention, acne and skin reactions, gynecomastia (abnormal growth of breasts in men) and sleep apnea.
Although such treatments are being used in the U.S. since the 1990s, few large studies on the effects and risks.
In 2009, the National Institutes of Health of the United States initiated a comprehensive study on the effects of testosterone replacement therapy in men over 65 years. The first results, however, should be disclosed only in June 2015.
Meanwhile, a report published in 2004 by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, advisory body of the U.S. government, aware of the lack of conclusive research on the subject.
"Despite the growing popularity of testosterone treatment, there is a considerable amount of data suggesting the efficacy of testosterone therapy in older men who do not fit the clinical definition of hypogonadism. Furthermore, the effects of testosterone on the prostate and its implications for cancer care inspired by the extensive use of non-therapeutic, "says the document.