Low Testosterone: To T or Not to T

Dear Mr. Dad: My 13-year old son doesn’t seem to be maturing as quickly as his peers. His voice has barely changed, he’s not sprouting much facial or body hair, and he’s below average in height. He’s also overweight and seems tired a lot of the time. Lately he’s become obsessed with the idea that his problem is Low-T. He’s been bringing me magazine ads, pointing to TV commercials and Internet ads, and is trying to convince me that he needs testosterone supplements. Could he be right? I though low testosterone was only something that affects older men.

A: The answer to your question is Yes and No. Yes, he could indeed have low testosterone (frequently–and annoyingly–referred to as Low-T). But No (no, no, no) he should absolutely not start taking supplements or doing anything to “treat” the problem until he’s been properly diagnosed by a professional. And by professional, I mean a trained healthcare provider who will run blood tests (the only accurate way to measure testosterone levels) and who is committed to identifying the underlying issues and how to overcome them, rather than to selling you a bunch of pills. Stay far, far away from anyone (including advice columnists) who claims to be able to diagnose and treat low testosterone or other medical conditions without actually seeing the patient.
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Money, Tea, Dental Floss, and a Full Head of Hair: Keys to Health?

What do dental floss, a full head of hair, money, and tea have in common? Not much, except that they’re all linked to better health outcomes for men. Here’s a brief overview of some fascinating new research. Some people won’t take care of themselves because they should. But according to new research, if you throw […]

Sorry, I Forgot. Did You Say Something?

Dear Mr. Dad: My daughter is a really good kid, but she can’t seem to remember anything for more than five minutes. We constantly have to harp at her about things that should be habits, like brushing her teeth every morning. Is there something wrong with her? Why can’t she remember to do things like that on her own?

A: Unfortunately, you and your daughter aren’t living in the same world—at least not at the same time. In your world, people remember to brush their teeth (but do you always floss?). In hers, there are so many other things going on that it’s easy to get distracted. Things that seem critical to you may not even be on her radar at all. So expecting her to act like a mini adult is unrealistic.

What I’m getting at is that from what you’re describing, it’s pretty unlikely that there’s anything wrong with your daughter’s memory, other than losing track of time or having her priorities in a different order than yours. That said, there are a few steps you can take to keep her on track.

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Hair replacement could cost and arm and a leg

Just about every guy whose hair isn’t as thick (or as present) as it was a decade or two ago has thought about hair transplants. We watch those late-night infomercials on the Bosley Method or Hair Club for Men and think about making the call.

The traditional source of transplanted hair is the back of the head, where the hair is thickest. But a new study published in the Archives of Dermatology has found that leg hair (or even hair from the chest, back, or beard) might be a better option. For some reason, the study didn’t look at transplanting pubic hair.

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Hair Today, Dad Tomorrow

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a single dad with an 8-year-old daughter. She and I are very close, but something has come between us: her hair. She sees other girls her age on TV, movies, or even at school and they all seem to have these amazing hairstyles and fancy arrangements. My daughter keeps asking me to do something like that for her, but I’m not even completely sure I understand the difference between pigtails and ponytails. I can see that to my daughter, hair is a big deal and I’d really like to give her what she wants. Any suggestions?

A: Boy (okay, I should say “girl”), can I empathize. As the father of three daughters I can’t even count the number of times I had my nails painted, face powdered, and eyes smeared with mascara. Or the number of hours I spent conditioning hair (not mine) and combing out snarls that seemed big enough to house an entire family of hawks. Or the days I spent shaking my head in amazement as a straight-haired -daughter used some kind of medieval torture instrument to curl her hair, while her wavy-haired sister used an equally frightening tool to straighten hers. So I definitely feel your pain. The good news is that there is hope. The even better news is that the fact that your daughter wants you to help her with your hair is a huge compliment. It may seem a little silly to you, but every minute you spend elbow-deep in your daughter’s locks brings you closer together and strengthens your relationship.

The first thing you need to do is get familiar with the tools of the trade—which can be more than a little intimidating. Since your daughter is only eight, you probably won’t have to worry about hair dryers, rollers, or curling and straightening irons for another few years. If you’re lucky. But spend a few minutes walking the hair-care aisles at your local drug store and check out the 6,375 types of brushes, combs, and accessories. There’s a big difference between a scrunchie and a regular pony tail holder (do not, under any circumstances, use a rubber band); butterfly clips, snap clips, and barrettes; hard headbands and stretchy ones.

If you have any energy left, take a quick walk through the shampoo department and get ready to refinance your house. You may be able to get away with the Costco brand right now, but take a lesson from my oldest daughter who came back home after her freshman year of college. After rummaging through every closet in the house, she held up a bottle of generic shampoo and sneeringly asked, “don’t you have anything more expensive?”

Now all that’s left is to roll up your sleeves and start creating designer ‘dos. For that, I recommend Cozy Friedman’s Guide to Girls’ Hair: The Cutest Cuts and Sweetest Hairstyles to Do at Home. Friedman, a New York kids’ stylist, will walk you through creating ponytails, pigtails, braids (French, heart, ,mini, and others) along with a rather optimistic estimate of how long it might take to do.

If you’re looking for other ways to strengthen your relationship with your daughter, you’ll definitely want to check out the winners of the Spring 2011 Mr. Dad Seal of Approval. You’ll find a huge variety, including the Xploderz XRanger 2000 firing system (xploderz.com), SnoozeShade (snoozeshade.com), DoodleRoll art kits (doodleroll.com), a great smock from Koobli (koobli.com), Periodic Quest chemistry game (periodicquest.com), the Pocket Referee (thepocketreferee.com), fantastic games from Bananagrams (bananagrams.com) and many more. The full list is at mrdad.com/seal.