By Myprotein Writer Ian Holdroyd
Anabolic steroids are used by many professional bodybuilders to increase muscle mass in which it mimics the hormone testosterone – which is directly linked to muscle growth.
Steroids allow athletes to train harder for longer and stimulates the growth of muscle mass – but it all comes at a price.
The benefits of steroids are quite obvious by eye, but what many people fail to understand are the drawbacks of such drugs, consisting of both physiological and psychological risks.
— Physiological steroid side effects —
Steroids will disrupt your hormone production due to the fact that they mimic testosterone – Men; this is not good news for you.
Your testicles (producer of testosterone) may shrink due to the fact that they won’t be needed as much.
In addition, breast tissue may begin to develop in men due to the hormone system being disrupted – otherwise known as gynecomastia.
In one study of men who had taken anabolic steroids, approximately half had either gynecomastia or testicular atrophy.
Gynecomastia is caused by excess estrogen “telling” your body to store fat here. Although is by no means life threatening, it can seriously damage your self-esteem and your wallet, as it can be extremely expensive with treatment costing around £1000.
Acne is a people that most will have experienced as a teenager and would have been more than happy to see the back of it.
However, steroid consumption can cause acne build up on the face, neck and back as the sebaceous glands are stimulated, causing an increase in the output of oils, causing the skin to develop blemishes or spots.
Blood pressure can definitely increase with the consistent use of steroids which can ultimately lead to medical conditions.
The heart may be the first to suffer due to the fact that it will be working harder to pump the blood and oxygen around the body.
As estrogen builds up in the body, salt and water retention will increase which, as a result, will increase blood pressure.
Infections and diseases are predominantly caused by the injection of steroids into the body, through the use of needles.
Depending on the needles used, it is not uncommon that users are put at risk from HIV and hepatitis.
Bacterial infections can also cause pain and inflammation at injection points.
This can put users at risk from HIV and hepatitis.
The kidney is mainly responsible for the filtration of waste from the body – including the contents of steroids.
Due to this, steroidal compounds (which are mainly removed via the urine) may cause the kidneys some problems.
There are also claims that the use of steroids may be linked to Wilm’s tumor in adults (rapidly growing kidney tumor normally seen in children and infants). However, this has not been 100% proved.
If steroids don’t cause blood clots, they have definitely been shown to increase the time in which it takes blood clots to form.
This may increase the athlete’s risk of infection if microbes get in via the cut.
However, this extra time is unlikely to be extremely noticeable so may only affect an athlete who is going into surgery.
— Psychological steroid side effects —
Depression can often occur when someone injects themselves with steroids – most predominantly in males.
This will often happen with when estrogen levels are off balance and most commonly noted when steroid use are discontinued.
Due to this, people are highly likely to start using steroids again to rid themselves of feeling low – possibly turning into a vicious circle of steroid abuse.
Anger issues are common is steroid users, otherwise known as roid rage.
Although this may be useful in gym where anger can be used to squeeze out that one extra rep, it will be less useful in other situations, like being in relationship.
People suffering from roid rage will get irritated much easier than normal due to the higher levels of testosterone imbalance – it will only get worse and may cause issues for different parts of your lifestyle – friends, family, career etc.
Take Home Message
The obvious message is to understand the risks of such drugs if you are thinking about taking them. It’s a personal choice but hopefully I’ve made you more aware of issues that may occur.
The most shocking thing is that these aren’t the only risks…there are many, many more to be aware of. One example being stretch marks – all around your arms where your muscles have grown.
The wide variety of drawbacks to most people outweigh the benefits – but that’s for you to decide.