TAMPA (FOX 13) - Five years ago, 49-year-old Angus Mickler says he lost his drive to exercise.
A blood test found his testosterone level was a third of what it should be for his age.
"I'd get up in the mornings and not have any energy at all," he remembers.
And Alex Peterson had typical menopausal symptoms like sleeplessness, anxiety, and moodiness as her hormone levels dropped. Medication helped but then her hands began to ache.
"It got to where I couldn't do things like easily open door knobs or open up a jar so I went to a couple of surgeons and they said I had carpal tunnel. Then my feet started hurting and I remember thinking, 'There is a root cause for all of this,'" she says.
Peterson's hormones were also low.
Many patients like Mickler and Peterson now have a place to turn for relief. Both chose a treatment growing in popularity called bio-identical hormone pellets, which are made from soy plants.
Spectra Wellness nurse practitioner Jaclyn Hurang is caring for both Mickler and Peterson. She says hormone pellets aren't new but as younger generations age, they discover these treatments for the first time.
"Hormone pellets have been around and used in United States, Australia and Europe since 1938," Hurang explains.
Her office is using the BioTe system.
"You get a hormone pellet that's about the size of a piece of uncooked rice and you put it under the skin in an office procedure here. The great thing about hormone pellets that there is a steady flow of hormones that are delivered to the body from the pellets," she says as she shows us the tiny pellet.
But the treatments aren't without controversy. The FDA groups bioidentical and synthetic HRT into one category. The use of routine synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) stopped in 2003 when studies showed risks of blood clots, heart attacks, and cancer.
Now some argue risks actually decline when HRT begins before age 60, within 10 years of menopause. Studies linking testosterone use in men to cardiovascular events caused the FDA to require warning labels.
While the controversies continue 54-year-old Peterson says HRT allowed her to cancel her carpal tunnel surgery.
"Literally within two weeks I had no pain in my hands, my feet, [and] within three to four weeks all of the pain was gone," she says.
Her other symptoms are gone, too, and her energy levels are more consistent.
When asked how old she now feels, she replied, "I'd say I'm a good 32!"
Mickler says he tried liquids, creams, gels, and injections.
"The injections and synthetics work but the injections are like a roller coaster ride, they go up and down," he explained.
He says those treatments were also more expensive since the treatments aren't covered by insurance. And he considers the risk the same as he would for other drugs.
"You have to think about what the side effects are going to be down the road. For what it's done for me, it's worth it," Mickler said.
The cost for bio-identical hormone pellet treatments averages $400 every four months for women, and because they require more pellets, $700 every four to six months for men.