There are many associated side effects with taking steroids and they can differ in severity, the genres of side effects include physiological and psychological.
When person/s abuse and misuse steroids there can be many risks; some less serious side effects such as headaches, and some which are far more dangerous. There are many risks associated with steroidal use as they disturb the equilibrium of the body. Anabolic/androgen steroid AAS are synthetically produced to mimic the male sex hormone testosterone in the body. Anabolic steroids have androgenic as well as virilising effects such as the development of male characteristics like growth of hair and testicles in women, sparking fears of anabolic steroids causing sex changes.
The effect on the body while taking steroids should not be underestimated, essentially a poisen is being introduced into the body, with side effects ranging from the relatively less serious acne to changes in immune system and cancer. Steroids are not safe and should not be seen as such.
Physiological Side Effects:
The use of anabolic steroids has been linked to different forms of cancer. The cancer frenzy with relation to steroids began in 1991-92 when the famous pro football player, Lyle Alzado was diagnosed with brain cancer. HE claimed to have taken steroids for 20 continuous years and then suddenly he developed brain cancer without any other side effects. He claimed that it was steroids that had caused the brain cancer, he advocated how bad steroids were and everyone seemed to jump onto the bandwagon. There has never been conclusive proof that steroid cause cancer and only until there is definite evidence that shows that steroids cause cancer can one actually confirm this.
Liver damage through steroid abuse is a well known risk, particularly with the use of oral steroids. These compounds, especially if abused, can cause serious damage to the liver. The steroids that are most commonly associated what liver damage include stanozolol, methandrostenolone, and oxymethelone as they are c-17 alpha alkylated compounds. The exact mechanism of hepatotoxity is that is caused by alkylated anabolic steroids is unknown. IT has been said that it could be due to the large amounts of andorgen activity in the liver. The liver is unable to deactivate alkylated steroids. The most common form of liver dysfunction is called cholestatis. This is where bile flow becomes decreased due to obstruction of the small bile ducts in the liver and because of this it causes bilirubin and bile salts to accumulate in the liver and blood instead of being excreted through the digestive tracts. Side effects of this can be vomiting, nausea, upper abdominal pain or itching and the stool may change colour. Jaundice may also appear which causes the skin, eyes and mucous membranes to become yellow as a result of the high amounts of bilirubin in the blood. This will cease if one stops taking hepototoxic steroids but more serious cases will take longer, months before enzyme levels return to normal functioning.
There is increased risk to the heart and can lead to an expansion of the cardiac muscle resulting in heart attacks. Users of anabolic steroids are at risk of thickening the left and right ventricular walls, which is known as ventricular hypotrophy. The left ventricle is known to become hypertrophic with steroid abuse. The level of impairment is directly linked to the steroid dose and the steroid use. The heart will reduce in size once the steroids are discontinued. Though the heart will decrease in size there may still be changes in heart muscle size and function caused by the drug.
Anabolic steroids are known to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). High levels of bad cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and if the person has a known history of hear disease or they should be extra precautious of using steroids. Cholesterol levels will return to normal once steroid use has stopped.
Gynecomastia is one of the most common side effects of steroids use and is one of the most unpleasant and potential serious side effects. This condition is characterised by female like tissue starts to develop in males, leading them to have man breasts. The first signs of this include puffiness and swelling under the nipples, lumps also appear and continue to grow into fatty tissue, which forms breasts.
Teenagers should never use steroids, as they are more likely to develop gynecomastia as a side effect to steroid use. If a steroid user begins to feel swelling which is the first sign of gynecomastia they should stop immediately and seek professional advice. This is a common side effect of steroid use but it can also be avoidable with the careful selection and reasonable dosing of steroids. Some steroid users will take an estrogen medicine, which will counter the effects of elevated estrogenicity.
Acne in steroid users is one of the most common side effects. It is known that androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin, which secrete sebum, an oily substance made of fats and dead fat cells. These sebaceous glands are found at the bottom of all hair follicles in all hair areas of the skin when the androgen levels becomes too high then this causes the sebaceous gland to become overactive which begins to clog the hair follicles with sebum and dead skin cells this results in acne. The most common form of acne is called acne vulgaris, which is very recurrent in steroid users. Treating this type of acne can be from over the counter medications like benzyl peroxide and a proper cleaning regime. Making sure you drink a lot of water can also be efficient, as it will detoxify all the impurities out of your body. For more severe acne you may go to the doctor and they can prescribe accutane, which is a very potent acne medication. There are serious side effects associated with this drug as well which can include severe dryness, itching and if a pregnant women takes this it can lead to serious birth defects. Abuse of prescription drugs is indeed a increasing problem, likley due to their relatively low price and ease of sourcing.
Hair loss is common side effect in most steroids and can aggravate a person who already has a predisposition to baldness.
Psychological Side Effects:
When looking at the psychological effects of steroid it is still unclear as to what part steroids exactly play in this nature. There are many extraneous variables that have to be taken into account when measuring a person’s psychological state and it is not so black and white like a physical side effect, you either get gynecomastia or you don’t and one can tell by looking at your breasts. Psychological side effects include aggression, depression, mania and sometime suicide. Aggression in steroid users is normally coined as roid rage but there is speculation to this and a person’s attitude/mood should be taken into account pre-steroid use before any judgments can be made.
Most steroid users admit to becoming aggressive when they are on steroids. They do not become psychopathic murders but they do report that they feel more aggravate and this is due to their aggression levels becoming elevated. This does also depend on the person themselves, for example if some can easily become e annoyed due to a small trigger then they may be more likely to become aggressive when on steroids. There are many other external factors that need to be taken into consideration when judging a persons aggression levels when on steroids like their job, their family life, their own happiness etc. Androgens are known to affect the amygdala as well as the hypothalamus, these are pares of the brain which are involved in aggression. Steroids are also known to affect the orbitofrontal cortex, which is another part of the brain that is involved with impulse control.
Anabolic steroids may be associated with depression and this sis most common after someone has stopped taking AAS supplements. This does also depend on how long and the dose that a person has been consuming. When steroids are stopped abruptly it can causes hormone levels in the body to go haywire and they need time to re-adjust some symptoms include insomnia, depression, withdrawal and a loss of interest. Therefore it is important to try not to just stop steroids without tapering off of them. The depression may be caused the actual fluctuations of hormones that are a bi-product of the drug or the person’s opinion on loosing the weight ad muscle mass when stopping steroids.
In terms of abusing steroids between 1 million and 3 million people have been thought to abuse steroids in the United States. Today, mostly all sporting federations ban the use of steroids and the IOC claims that this is because it gives unfair advantage as well as has severe adverse effects on a person’s health. There are some championships, such as Mr. Olympia where steroids are not tested for neither are they advocated. Most athletes have to undergo doping tests that are compulsory to check for steroid use and if caught the will most likely get their medals or trophies stripped off them.
This is one of the most commonly known and most feared side effect of steroids gone wrong. In its simplistic view, this is caused by the testes shutting their natural testosterone production down when artificial testosterone is supplied in the form of anabolic steroids. Becuase they are no longer producing testosterone,
testicular shrinkageis a results of this.
As well as the side effects of steroid use if you are a sportsmen/women then there are to be major changes to steroid testing and most sports now get steroid tests on a regular basis. There is to be an era of steroid testing to the next level; for example, F1 is now getting tested for steroid use.