Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), also known as synthetic testosterone, is a sexual hormone that is found primarily in men.
The action of steroids can be found in various organs and tissues (e.g. brain, muscles, bone, liver, kidney).
The testosterone levels in men naturally increase during puberty, promoting the development of masculine sex characteristics (e.g., a deeper voice, hair growing, increased muscle mass).
Women also produce small quantities of this hormone within their adrenal glands. Although the testosterone action on women is less potent, it still promotes bone density and a strong libido.
Normal testosterone levels are generally between:
Many bodybuilders use AAS to increase muscle mass. However, there are a few side effects that you should be aware of.
Side effects of steroids
The side effects of using AAS can vary greatly from person to person, depending on how much and for how long you use it. Recent research has shown that genetics can also play a part in the body’s reaction to AAS.
Finally, the anabolic-to-androgenic ratio is the primary factor that estimates the severity of adverse effects.
The combination of AAS and resistance training leads to an eventual enlargement in the left ventricle.
This phenomenon may seem benign, but it can affect the ability of the heart to pump blood, particularly during exercise. The left ventricle will not contract correctly, affecting the body’s oxygen and nutrients.
This eventually leads to heart failure on the left side, an incurable condition that requires a cardiac transplant to fully heal.
A chronic hypertension is also a risk factor for coronary artery diseases and death.
Changes in behavior
AAS consumption can cause aggression and impulsivity in teens and young adults, similar to the high testosterone levels that occur naturally. This can lead to domestic violence and other violent behaviors.
Body Image Alteration
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorder 5 DSM-V, the use of AAS as part of body image disorder.
The person who is addicted to AAS will depend on it to improve their mental image, as their brain has been distorted.
The liver is responsible for metabolizing oral AAS before it leaves the body. Hepatocytes, or liver cells, are then at risk of death and damage, which can lead to liver dysfunction and damage.
May cause gynecomastia
The term gynecomastia refers to the swelling of breast tissue in men caused by hormonal imbalance. This condition is rarely treated medically and usually requires surgical removal of the excess tissue.
The body is used to the high levels of testosterone that are present in the blood.
Reduced production of testosterone
Regular intake of AAS can suppress the body’s ability to naturally produce testosterone. Hypogonadism may result from the regular intake of AAS, particularly after stopping it.
- Hypogonadism can be characterized by:
- Testicular size and function decrease
- Diminished sexual drive
- Fewer male sex traits (e.g., hair development)
- Male infertility
Women’s side effects
Both men and women can be affected by the adverse effects listed above. Women are more likely to experience additional side effects. These include:
- Deeper voice
- Facial changes, hair growth
- The clitoris is enlarged
- Menstrual irregularities
- Breast size decrease
- Side effects
- Blood lab abnormalities
- AAS can alter lab values and require frequent blood tests.
The following are possible changes in blood test values:
High hemoglobin levels and high hematocrit indicate that the body is able to transport oxygen through the circulation system. Blood thickening can occur with increased values, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Dyslipidemia is a combination of increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and reduced HDL (good cholesterol). It is a major factor in coronary artery diseases and strokes.
Abnormal liver functions tests (LFTs). AAS use leads to an increase in aspartate and alanine taminise levels. These markers are high and indicate liver dysfunction.
Risk of infection
The production of AAS has poor regulation, which increases the risk of infection. Many steroid products on the market were synthesized illegally in labs with a poor reputation that did not follow the same standards as commercial laboratories.
The risk of infection is also highest during the injection procedure due to poor decontamination.
Some black-market labs mislabel products and add fake substances to them, increasing the risk of infection.
Addiction and its risks
Official reports state that AAS is not physically addictive, but continued use can lead to mental dependence and addiction.
Dysmorphia, or distorted body images, is one of the most common side effects of AAS. Individuals become obsessed with their appearance and size of muscles.
You may wish to consult your primary physician before taking AAS to rule out any absolute contraindications and to determine if there are any severe side effects or potential adverse reactions that could alter your lifestyle.
The use of steroids in bodybuilding can lead to many health issues, not just the ones listed above.
This article should have shed some light on this important subject. If you have any questions or comments about AAS, please feel free to post them in the comment section.