Many people turn to substances such as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) to improve muscle strength and power. Anabolic refers to the growth of muscle while androgenic refers to the increase in male sex traits. There are several side effects that come with them. This article discusses steroids use, including their side effects and dangers.
Steroids Use in Bodybuilding
The first thing that may come to mind is their use in bodybuilding to boost muscle gain. However, AAS is also used for a variety of other purposes. The use of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding are:
- Improves stamina
- Increases muscle mass
- Improves protein synthesis
- Reduces body fat Percentage
- Increases muscle power
- Boosts workout recovery
- Increases bone density
- increases red blood cells
AAS is one of the primary PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) that athletes use (1).
Athletes who use AAS may experience strength gains up to 20 percent and weight gain of 4.5–11 pounds (2–5 kg), which is an increase in lean body muscle mass (2).
Although sports federations prohibit AAS. However, some athletes believe that the gain is worth the risk of getting caught.
Many athletes also include other synthetic hormones, such as insulin and growth hormone to get the maximum anabolic effect.
Steroids Side Effects and Dangers
Despite its potential benefits, AAS has several side effects. Therefore, the extent varies depending on your genetics and how much you are using these substances (3).
AAS can cause the following side effects:
Using AAS in resistance exercise can increase the size of your heart’s left ventricle and blood pressure. This can increase your risk of cardiac disease and even death (5).
Influences body image
The treatment manual for psychiatric disorders classifies AAS use and dependency as a body image condition (6).
Gynecomastia is swollen male breast tissue that can occur by hormone imbalance when you stop taking AAS (7).
Using steroids can increase aggression and impulsivity in adults and teenagers (8).
AAS increases your risk of liver dysfunction, especially in those taking it orally (9).
Decreases testosterone production
The use of steroids can cause hypogonadism, characterized by the shrinking and decreasing role of the testes (10).
Steroid use may cause infertility because it can destroy the body’s sperm production system (11).
AAS androgenic effects can cause or exacerbate baldness in males. This effect can differ according to the particular drug used (12).
Using AAS comes with multiple risks, making them potentially dangerous to most. However, you can minimize some of these threats by other approaches, but you cannot eliminate them entirely.
Steroids Use in Disease Treatment
Many conditions can result in muscle loss, including Hiv, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, and other liver and kidneys diseases.
While using AAS isn’t the only way to preserve muscle mass in those patients. However, there is still a need for attention in treatment due to its possible side effects.
While AAS is the most frequently discussed type of steroid, there is another variety called glucocorticoids or corticosteroids. These are naturally occurring hormones that are developed in the adrenal glands above your kidneys (13).
They serve as a mechanism of feedback in your immune system, which regulates inflammation. An overactive immune system also uses synthetic versions to treat conditions such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, sepsis, and asthma.
Although working well to control some illnesses, they can cause many side effects, such as elevated levels of blood sugar and weight gain. Therefore, they are only reserved for mild to extreme inflammatory conditions.
Steroids are Addictive
While AAS is not physically addictive, it may have a mental addiction that can lead to dependency over time (15).
A common psychological side effect of using AAS is muscle dysmorphia, in which the user always worries to have a more muscular physique (16).
Frequently Asked Questions
Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) reflect a synthetic form of testosterone, the primary male sex hormone. They affect different parts of your body, including your muscles, hair follicles, bones, liver, kidneys, and nervous and reproductive systems.
The risk of infection can be fairly high when taking AAS. This is because many steroids are produced in illicit laboratories that do not follow the same protocols as commercial laboratories. There is an increased chance of contamination and infection in steroids which need to be injected.
While traditionally considered as a male hormone, women do produce testosterone in much smaller quantities. It serves women with several functions, mainly promoting bone density and a healthy libido. Standard levels of a testosterone range from 300–1,000 ng/dL for men, to 15–70 ng/dL for women.
While the side effects described above can occur in both men and women. Therefore, women should be aware of additional ones, including deepening voice, facial changes, and hair growth, enlarged clitoris, irregular menstrual cycles, reduced breast size, and infertility (17).
AAS legal status varies by country and area, although in most countries if used for non-therapeutic purposes, they are listed as illegal. The only way to legally obtain and use AAS would be to have them recommended for a condition by a medical professional, such as low testosterone or muscle-wasting disease.
Although lower, well-calculated doses of AAS can be safer than uncontrolled doses associated with abuse. However, no studies have compared the safety of various doses of steroids.
The bottom line
AAS is a synthetic source of testosterone to increase muscle mass and strength. While their health risks differ depending on the form and quantity. However, they can be dangerous and cause side effects at any dose. Plus, they’re also illegal. It is a very serious decision to use AAS, and the risks usually lead to terrible consequences.
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