What are Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced chemicals that are made in a laboratory and designed to copy the effects of the male sex hormone testosterone. Their scientific name is Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS). The word anabolic refers to muscle building, while androgenic relates to increased male sexual characteristics.
How Do Steroids Work?
When people work out against a resistance they produce micro-tears in the fibers of the stressed muscle tissue. It’s when the body repairs these tears that muscles get bigger. The male growth hormone testosterone plays a huge role in that repair and recovery process. Steroids that mimic testosterone bind to the androgen receptor within the muscle cell. This speeds up the recovery process.
How Are Steroids Used?
Most anabolic steroids sold illegally in the United States come from overseas. The internet is now the most widely used means of buying and selling steroids. Most steroids are either taken orally or injected into the muscle. Some, however, can be applied as gels or creams. People who are using steroids to build muscle will typically use 10 to 100 times the dose that is recommended to treat medical conditions.
Steroids are usually taken in the form of either cycling or stacking. Cycling involves taking a steroid for a period of weeks or months. Then not using it for a period of time before going through another cycle. The rationale behind cycling is that it prevents a lot of the negative side effects, while providing the hormonal system the chance to recuperate.
Stacking is when the user combines several types of steroids in order to maximize the benefits.
What are the Health Effects?
Steroid use can result in a lot of serious and permanent health problems. There is an association between steroid use and kidney impairment and possible failure. Beyond this, the main recognized side effects are:
- Acne, male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction, shrunken testicles, decreased sperm count, breast tissue in males
- Liver damage, changes in cholesterol level, stunted height, cardiovascular problems, enlarged prostate, water retention
- Shutting down of normal hormone production
- Depression, mood changes
- In females menstrual changes, cervical cancer, virilization symptoms such as an enlarged clitoris, deepening of voice and abnormal hair growth
- If synthetic Human Growth Hormone is used there is the added risk of cancer and diabetes, joint swelling, joint pain, changes in bone structure, abnormal growth of organs and body odor.
Particularly in men, steroid use can lead to a diminishing of the effects of male hormones and a related increase in the effects of female hormones. This results in testicular shrinkage, reduced sperm count, baldness, breast development and the increased risk of prostate cancer.
For women, the use of steroids has the opposite negative effects. It will exaggerate male characteristics and lessen female ones. As a result female steroid users can expect increased facial hair growth, baldness, changes in menstrual cycle, an enlarged clitoris and a deepened voice.
Adolescents who take steroids may experience stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation, accelerated puberty changes and the risk of not reaching their expected height.
People who inject steroids also have an increased risk of getting or giving HIV / AIDS or hepatitis, especially if they share a needle.
Steroid use can also lead to aggression and other psychiatric problems. Users can experience severe mood swings, along with unpredictable bouts of manic behavior and rage (the ‘roid’ rage’ syndrome).
Research also shows that steroid use can lead to paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusional behavior and impaired judgments that give rise to feelings of invincibility.
On top of all of this, steroids can be highly addictive. Research shows that people may keep using steroids even if they experience health problems and negative social effects, such as the end of a relationship. These are signs of dependence or addiction. Users will often spend a lot of time and money getting their steroid fix.
Steroids have a number of serious withdrawal symptoms, including . . .
- Mood swings
- Loss of Appetite
- Reduced Sex Drive
- Steroid Cravings
- Suicidal Thoughts
Who Uses Steroids
It is impossible to estimate the percentage of steroid users in the United States. Most drug use surveys do not include steroid use. However a recent survey of college students revealed that about 1% of college students use steroids. Professional, amateur, and recreational athletes are equally likely to use steroids. Bodybuilders and strength athletes have a higher proportion of steroids users in their number than other sports. A large proportion of users are young adults and adolescents who are trying to gain muscle.
The Bottom Line
Steroids will always perform better anabolic results than natural compounds. But steroids are no magic pill. You can’t just inject them into your system and wake up with a body that reflects what you see in the bodybuilding magazines. The men and women depicted on those glossy pages often use mega dosages to look the way they do. This is doings serious damage to their body while costing them a whole lot of money.
If you are convinced that you really want to go down the steroid route, educate yourself as much as you possibly can about what you are planning to get yourself into. Carefully weigh the pros and the cons, looking not just to the immediate, but also to the long term.
There is no doubt that steroids work. You can quickly pack on 15-20 pounds of muscle in a short amount of time on an initial cycle. But there is not a whole lot of benefit to being the best built stiff in the morgue!