“Anabolic steroids are used for some medical conditions, but people also use them illegally in some sports settings. They use them to boost muscle mass, performance, and endurance and to shorten recovery time between workouts”
What are Anabolic Steroids?
AASs are synthetic versions of the primary male hormone, testosterone. They affect many parts of the body, including the muscles, bones, hair follicles, liver, kidneys, blood, immune system, reproductive system and the central nervous system.
During puberty, increases in testosterone levels enable the development of characteristics such as facial and body hair growth, increased height and muscle mass, a deepening voice, and the sex drive.
Testosterone can also contribute to competitiveness, self-esteem, and aggressiveness.
The definition of steroids is, “man-made derivatives of testosterone, the male hormone. They synthesize protein and help promote muscle growth”.4 Types of steroids include anabolic and growth hormones.
The definition of an anabolic steroid is, “Any drug or harmful substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogen, progestins, and corticostoroids) that promotes muscle growth, any drug or hormonal substance that stimulates the endogenous production of steroids in the human body which acts in the same manner”
2 Types of anabolic steroids include oral and intramuscular injection. Steroids taken orally have a half-life of several hours, while injected steroids have a half-life of several days.2 Steroids taken orally usually come on the form of a pill. It takes these water-soluble pills three to four weeks to clear the body.
The oil-based injections take six to eight months to leave the body.1 After steroids are taken, the steroid molecule bonds to cell receptor sites. Now the steroid molecule can increase protein synthesis, increase nitrogen retention, make metabolic changes, and increase size and strength of skeletal muscle cells.
There are up to 32 types of anabolic steroid listed on commercial websites
Who Uses Steroids?
The public is under the belief that taking steroids will automatically make the user become built and muscular, which is not so. While using steroids, the user must still exercise.
Some people also believe that the only way to achieve a muscular build is by using steroids, yet again, this is wrong. Many people who work hard achieve an excellent physique naturally.
Male bodybuilders and athletes make up most of the steroid users in the U.S.; female athletes and teenaged athletes use steroids as well.
One of the most famous steroid users is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger has held the title of Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia. He used steroids before the health risks were known and before they were illegal.
Another famous steroid user is Sergio Olivia. Olivia was also a bodybuilder and competed against Schwarzenegger. Both men no longer use steroids. They realized their health was more important then rapid muscle growth.
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF STEROID USE
The adverse effects of AAS use depend on the product, the age and sex of the user, how much they use, and for how long.
AAS use comes with several risks, making them potentially dangerous for most people. While certain methods can minimize some of these risks, they cannot be fully avoided.
Frequent blood work is important
AAS use can affect several lab values, making frequent blood work important to avoid major complications. Steroid use can affect the following lab values
- Can increase hemoglobin and hematocrit. These blood markers play an important role in oxygen delivery throughout your body. Increased levels can thicken your blood and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Can reduce HDL (good) cholesterol and raise LDL (bad) cholesterol. HDL and LDL cholesterol should be within healthy ranges. Lower HDL and higher LDL levels may increase heart disease risk.
- Can increase liver markers. AAS use has been associated with increased aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT), two markers of liver function. Elevated levels may indicate liver dysfunction.
You should consult your medical provider before beginning a regimen that alters your body’s natural hormone levels.
Legally prescribed normal-dose anabolic steroids may have the following side effects:
- fluid retention
- difficulty or pain when urinating
- enlarged male breasts, known as gynecomastia
- increased red cell count
- lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol
- hair growth or loss
- low sperm count and infertility
- changes in libido
THE BOTTOM LINE
While their health risks vary by the type and amount taken, they can be dangerous and cause side effects at any dose. Plus, they’re illegal in most places.
Using AAS is a very serious decision, and the risks generally outweigh any benefits.