Steroids are hormones that our body produces and secretes naturally. We also call steroids, the group of drugs, which helps repair muscle and enhance athletic performance.
These are also called anabolic-androgenic drugs, which contain the synthetic form of testosterone. Testosterone is the main male hormone, but women produce it too, but in smaller amounts.
Most sporting federations ban steroids because an athlete on steroids isn't showing their real power and ability to play sports. They are much stronger and perform better, that is why some of them decide to take the risk of getting caught and use steroids anyway. It is also illegal to buy steroids without a doctor's prescription and doctors aren't allowed to prescribe these substances to an athlete whose purpose is only to gain more strength.
Because our body plays a huge role in producing such substances, we might often think that there is no harm in taking steroids. Despite them giving so many good effects, the side effects are worse, and you don't want to risk it. Even though steroids are needed to treat several diseases, they can also be misused.
There are several ways people, and especially young athletes, misuse them:
- Plateauing- changing or substituting steroids frequently to avoid the development of tolerance.
- Pyramiding- increasing the dose of steroids until you reach a peak amount
- Stacking- mixing two or more different steroids
- Cycling- taking a large number of steroids for a certain period, stopping for a while, and then restarting
Let's see why steroids are bad and dangerous for your health:
They increase the risk of a potential heart disease
When you combine anabolic-androgenic drugs with resistance exercise, you will increase your muscle size, but it will also increase the muscle of the left ventricle of your heart. This leads to hypertension and it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular mortality. Although there has been seen a connection between anabolic-androgenic drugs and myocardial infarction, more research needs to be done in this area to prove this hypothesis.
Taking steroids for a long period has toxic effects on your liver. This side effect also depends on genetic factors.
Increase aggressive behavior
Using anabolic-androgenic drugs has shown an increase in behavioral impulsivity. This has been seen in teenagers and adults.
Gynecomastia, or as we like to call it "man boobs", is a common side effect of steroids which causes men's breasts to grow more than normal. Steroids cause this by being converted into estrogen. Estrogen is not a very wanted hormone for males, and when its levels increase, it causes the swelling and growth of the breasts.
Decrease the production of testosterone
Steroids cause hypogonadism, which means it decreases the activity of the testes. This leads to low testosterone levels and low sperm production. When there is a low sperm count, this leads to infertility.
Steroids make your body produce more immune system receptors called TLR2. These receptors, together with the Propionibacterium acne, cause an acne outbreak.
Cause male pattern baldness
This effect depends on the specific drug that you use. Steroids cause male hair loss by producing more dihydrotestosterone. This hormone is the main reason that men start losing hair, and when its levels increase, it will make your hair fall faster in the male pattern baldness. When you stop taking steroids, there might be a slight chance of your hair growing back, but if it doesn't, you would have to consider some surgical methods to treat your hair loss.
When it comes to women, they should be careful of these side effects:
- Voice deepening
- Hair growth and facial changes
- Clitoris enlargement
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Breast size decreases
Teenagers experience these side effects:
- They stop growing due to arrested bone growth
- Girls might experience masculinization
Another thing you should know about steroids is that you must know how to stop taking them. You can't just stop them one day, because the side effects will be more dangerous. Depending on which steroids you used, you might have to go through a Post Cycle Therapy. Your doctor can help you by lowering the dose daily until your adrenal glands gain back their normal function of producing the steroid hormones. Withdrawal symptoms might occur because steroids can cause a mental addiction.
In conclusion, steroids shouldn't be used, unless you have a serious medical condition that only steroids can treat, and this shouldn't be treated without medical supervision, otherwise, you are prone to misusing them. A doctor prescribes the right dosage for a certain medical condition, but not for athletic purposes.
Try other methods to increase your muscle size and strength, because taking steroids will not only get you in trouble legally, but they will also get your health in a long-term mess. To develop your strenght and muscle, it is recommended to use legal steroids as they are natural and won't affect your health. However if you are still willing to use steroids, make sure to do it safely.