The health risks of steroid use
It is no secret that many bodybuilders use performance-enhancing drugs to boost their performance and get much quicker results. It is also no secret that steroid usage is not the healthiest practice. However, the vast majority of users and those who may consider using performance-enhancing drugs have no idea of the extent of damage that steroids can do to your body. Although they may make you look stronger, they most definitely do not make you fit or healthy. This article is going to give a brief summary of the main risks and impacts that come from steroid use and abuse.
What are anabolic steroids used for?
Anabolic steroids are often used by enhanced bodybuilders to increase muscle mass and they are in fact a Class C drug, meaning they should only be accessible via prescription from a medical professional. It is not recommended that people take these drugs to improve athletic performance as they are extremely dangerous, yet they are still used extensively and the hazards are usually down-played by sellers.
What are the dangers of anabolic steroids?
Steroids are extremely dangerous for many reasons but their addictive qualities mean that the risks are accentuated by misuse. Many people take them over a prolonged period of time and as they do not immediately see the harm they are causing they become desensitised to the risks. As their bodies become more familiar with the effects of the steroids, it can require a larger dose of steroids in order to achieve the same results. Once someone is addicted to performance-enhancing drugs, they may experience negative side effects but overlook these as they feel the need to continue taking them despite the pain or problems they may be causing. Many believe they can avoid the risks by taking them in certain ways such as ‘cycling’ where they stop taking the drugs for a certain amount of time to let their body ‘rest and recover’ or ‘stacking’ which means taking more than one type of anabolic steroid as they believe this makes them more effective in short-term use. However, there is no evidence to prove or even suggest that any of those techniques are effective. There are two main types of side effects from the use and misuse of steroids: physical side effects and psychological side effects.
The physical side effects of anabolic steroids
The physical side effects can present themselves differently in men and women. Men can experience fertility issues such as reduced sperm count and erectile dysfunction, baldness, breast development, an increased risk of prostate cancer, acne and stomach pains among many other things. Women can experience growth of facial hair and body hair, deepening of the voice, increased sex drive, an enlarged clitoris, loss of breasts, scalp hair loss, disruption of regular menstruation, acne and many more effects. Many of these are related to the steroids creating hormonal imbalances and disrupting natural bodily functions.
There are also many side effects that impact men and women alike. Examples of some of these are an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, developing liver and kidney problems (in some casing leading to organ failure), high blood pressure, blood clots, fluid retention and high cholesterol. If adolescents who have not finished going through puberty and natural growth spurts, the use of steroids can result in stunted growth as they can cause premature aging of bones. A lot of the damage caused by the use of steroids will not be immediately evident and can sometimes not impact the person until many years after they have stopped taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Another physical risk, which might not be considered a side effect but poses a danger to steroid users, is the issues related to sharing needles when using steroids which are injected directly into the muscles. Sharing needles is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious infections and cause users to contract Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and AIDS.
The psychological side effects of anabolic steroids
The second type of side effects which are known to be a result of steroid use are the psychological impacts causing changes in behaviour and harming users’ mental health. Taking steroids can result in extreme mood swings, aggression, paranoia and jealousy, hallucinations, delusions, manic behaviour and impaired judgement as a result of feelings of euphoria and being untouchable. It is also important to note that many people begin using anabolic steroids due to struggling with body dysmorphic disorder and the psychological effects can actually extenuate mental health conditions.
Due to the addictive nature of steroids, people who have taken steroids consistently are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if they come off them too quickly (which can include when users take a break as part of their ‘cycling’ process). The withdrawal symptoms experienced can include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, insomnia, anorexia, lower sex drive, fatigue and extreme irritability. These negative effects can make it much harder for addicts to quit using steroids and lead them to believe they need to continue taking them.
Now that we have discussed some of the most common side-effects of steroid abuse, we hope that you will be better equipped to make an informed decision and understand the extent of the dangers of steroids. This list is by no means extensive and there are countless other side effects we know of and most likely an alarming number of side effects which have not yet been associated with steroid abuse. There are also very few studies on the long-term effects on the human body following steroid abuse and so there is doubtlessly more damage caused to internal organs by these aggressive drugs. We hope you can agree that no level of fast-tracked results could possibly be worth causing so much harm to your body or enduring the very unpleasant physical, mental and aesthetic side-effects. What may seem like a tempting quick fix or booster will actually impact you for years to come, if not the rest of your life. If you want to build muscle without taking risks, you can simply get into natural bodybuilding! That is a way to get in a great shape – without taking the risk of damaging your health.