Anabolic Steroids: What They Are and What Side Effects They Have

The use of anabolic steroids is one of the most commented topics in the gyms, and in Deporte y Vida we wanted to deepen about what they are and why they can be very dangerous for the health if they are abused.

Simple explanation: what steroids are

Essentially and for your better understanding, men secrete a substance called testosterone, which is the male hormone par excellence. This is essential, and plays a fundamental role in sexual reproduction (occurs mainly in the testicles) and other physiological processes such as the growth of muscle mass, which is the issue that matters to us. What anabolic steroids do is, therefore, suppress our own production of testosterone (which we produce endogenously) to replace it with the exogenous source we provide. Therefore, it is a chemical process by which we stop producing our own natural testosterone, and exchange it for the testosterone that facilitates the consumption of steroids.

Why they are used in bodybuilding

The powerful effect testosterone has on increasing muscle mass is what motivates most men or women to use it, either for their own aesthetic benefit or for major sporting competitions. If we see a person who does not use steroids, compared to another who does use them for muscle development, the difference is abysmal. They look more rocky, harder, larger and with a lower percentage of fat. This is due to the great difference between the production of testosterone that the body generates naturally, and that provided by steroids, which is much higher in high doses, which is how it is usually taken by users or athletes.

What they are really for

Anabolic steroids (the vast majority) can be obtained in pharmacies because they are medications, but their use is limited to certain diseases such as:

– Aplastic anemia

– Chronic and debilitating diseases

– Postmenopausal or elderly osteoporosis

– Extensive burns – Slow consolidating fractures

– Pediatrics, for statural and weight growth retardation

What side effects do anabolic steroids have?

Here comes the real problem: misinformation. A person without any of the above illnesses may have a real problem if they take steroids to look better or to improve their athletic performance.

According to Dr. Robert Kersey, director of Athletic Training at the University of California, “the main difference is that a doctor prescribes a minimum dose to someone with a disease, while steroid users or athletes take much larger doses, in which the feared side effects begin to appear. According to a study published in JAMA, in the United States there are between 2.9 and 4 million steroid users, which is quite a high figure, and is used mainly among gym regulars, bodybuilders and athletes of all conditions. Steroids act by promoting the gain of muscle mass through an increase in protein that the body can synthesize.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, steroids have many side effects, especially at high doses:

– Steroid abuse disrupts the body’s normal production of hormones, causing both reversible and irreversible changes. Reversible changes include reduced sperm production and shrinkage of the testicles (testicular atrophy). Irreversible changes include male pattern baldness and breast development (gynecomastia) in men. In women, anabolic steroids cause masculinization. Breast size and body fat decrease, the skin becomes rough, the clitoris enlarges, and the voice becomes deeper. Women may experience excessive body hair growth but lose hair. With continued use of steroids, some of these effects become irreversible.

– Steroid abuse has been associated with cardiovascular disease, including heart and brain attacks, even in athletes under age 30. They also increase the risk of blood clots forming in the blood vessels, which can disrupt blood flow, damaging the heart muscle so that it does not pump blood efficiently.

– Steroid abuse has been associated with liver tumors and a rare condition called hepatic peliosis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Sometimes both tumors and cysts can rupture, causing internal bleeding.

– It can cause acne and cysts, as well as oily skin and hair.

– Among its psychological effects, it can also cause dependence, fury, aggression, mania or delirium.