Those are just the well-known men who have talked about hormone therapies, of course. Speculation surrounds middle-aged rich guys like Jeff Bezos, who is rumored to be an investor in a buzzed-about anti-aging startup and seems to be aging in reverse into Billionaire Mr. Clean, with viral fit pics to match. (For the record, people close to Bezos attribute his transformation strictly to diet and exercise.)
In any case, it’s not just the rich and famous: Doctor-approved doping is gaining ground among the everyday guy.
“You’d be surprised with how many people are on hormone therapies,” says Dr. Jessie Cheung, a dermatologist whose focus, in part, is on these treatments. “You look, feel, perform, think, recover, and age better.”
Testosterone is associated with physical changes like muscle growth and mental changes like confidence and aggression, though there is robust debate over the extent to which those effects should be understood as “masculine,” to what extent they’re shaped by existing social context, and whether these therapies show effects at a population level.
In any case, men are seeking these mental and physical changes, and Dr. Cameron Sepah, a professor of psychiatry at the school of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, has noticed the uptick in popularity. He’s a clinician first, but has something of a vested interest as CEO of Maximus, which offers personalized treatment plans (a monthly membership is $149.99) to help men double their testosterone levels. Maximus men, Sepah claims, report having more energy, motivation, drive, and confidence.
“They don’t have the need for that afternoon nap anymore when they get sluggish toward the end of the day,” he says.
Chris Jones, who joined Maximus about a year ago, is 39 and works as an attorney in Los Angeles. When the pandemic hit, Jones became interested in assessing his overall health. While he says he never felt particularly tired or off-balance, he also had never taken a testosterone test, and was surprised to see that his total level was 260 ng/dL.
Since popping the enclomiphene, Jones says his level has jumped to 730. “I definitely feel more energy, more calm, more focus,” he says. “Just overall stronger and better.” The naps and extra cups of coffee he occasionally needed in the afternoons have tapered off. And his vertical—Jones works with a dunk trainer—has gone up eight inches.
While testosterone therapy provides benefits, some doctors will caution against turning to testosterone replacement right away if you’re feeling fatigued or less potent in the bedroom.
“There’s all these lifestyle factors that will cause low testosterone or sort of simulate low-testosterone symptoms,” says Dr. Kenneth Litwin, a physician who works with Fitzgerald at the Sandy Hook Clinic in Connecticut. “If you help the person to identify that and help them work on all those things, they may never need testosterone.”
That’s because testosterone levels can be affected by many factors. Getting eight hours of sleep or correcting a nutritional deficiency, like a low level of vitamin D, will restore your testosterone to its natural baseline. Strength training, looking for ways to decrease stress, and cutting out smoking are also key.