An anabolic steroid are chemically designed drugs that consist of both naturally formed androgens, such as testosterone and synthetically produced androgens. The synthetic androgens that make up anabolic steroids are known to have properties, effects and even arennabolic chemical structures that are very similar to natural androgens like testosterone.
While anabolic steroids offer bodybuilders and other athletes an enormous amount of anabolic and androgenic benefits, there are genuine side effects of steroids in bodybuilding that cannot be ignored.
This post reveals 6 ways anabolic steroids affect your health while concluding with tips on preventive measures that you can take during and after your steroid cycle.
I. How do Anabolic Steroids Work?
From the moment an anabolic steroid is administered either through intramuscular injection or via the oral route, the steroid compounds get into your bloodstream where they then travel to parts of your body including your muscle tissues.
While at your muscle tissues, the androgen receptors of your muscles will then absorb the steroid compounds into your muscle cells. With the steroid compounds now in the cells of your muscles, an interaction with your muscle cell DNA occurs.
Subsequently, the steroid compounds will promote protein synthesis in your muscle cells thereby stimulating muscle growth. The level of change you should expect to your muscles will depend on several factors.
For starters, the type and quantity of androgenic-anabolic steroids consumed can greatly influence the level of muscle growth along with other factors like your genetics, physique, body weight, and your tolerance level to the steroid.
It is always better to consult an experienced trainer who would work with baseline parameters such as your present physique, genetics, and body weight to determine the cycle and dosage right for you.
As you engage in your coordinated workout bulking regimen, you naturally release the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is known to adversely influence muscle tissue as this stress hormone binds with the androgen receptors of your muscle tissues and then breaks down your muscles giving you sore muscles in the process.
With the use of an anabolic steroid, you will block the stress hormone from reaching and binding with the androgen receptors of your muscles and in effect prevent your muscles from being broken down by cortisol.
Cortisol causes tiredness, heaviness and muscle fatigue. Anabolic steroid use will build up your skeletal muscles, increase muscle tissue strength, provide you with added energy, reduce lactic acid build up in your muscles, enhance your endurance and overall levels of stamina.
II. 6 Possible Side Effects of Steroid in Bodybuilding
Now that the question of how do anabolic steroids work? has been answered, let’s look at 6 possible side effects of steroids in bodybuilding. These side effects include; cardiovascular disease, liver toxicity, infertility, kidney injury, blood disorders, and thyroid dysfunctions.
#1. Cardiovascular Disease:
The use of some anabolic steroid drugs are widely believed to adversely affect the cholesterol levels of your body. Some of these steroids for sale can increase the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) while reducing the good cholesterol high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in your body.
Bad cholesterol is known to clog up your arteries and can lead to cardiovascular disease. The structure of your heart can be altered with your left ventricle being enlarged as a result. This can affect the rate at which your heart contracts and relaxes which ultimately disrupts the amount of blood flow to your heart.
With an abnormal blood flow, your propensity to a number of Cardiovascular related problems increases. Bodybuilders are exposed to left ventricular hypertrophy, cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, and congestive heart failure.
Some anabolic steroid drugs are linked to heart attacks as well as sudden death in extreme cases. While these cardiovascular side effects may seem morbid, you should know that they are really rare especially if recommended dosages are meticulously followed and steroids are not misused or abused.
#2. Liver Toxicity:
Apart from using adulterated oral steroids for sale, there are steroids pills like Anadrol that have a high level of hepatotoxicity. What this means is that the steroid can potentially cause damage to your liver.
As the steroid is metabolised by your liver, it can put an enormous amount of strain on your liver. Some of the liver related side effects in bodybuilding include; jaundice, hepatocellular adenoma, cholestasis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and peliosis hepatis.
Infertility caused by androgenic-anabolic steroid use is possible especially when certain anabolic steroid drugs are used over an extensive length of time.
When anabolic-androgenic steroids are excessively by bodybuilders, the follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH and the luteinising hormone or LH in your body are more than likely to reduce. The primary purpose of these two hormones in your reproductive health cannot be overemphasised as they both help in boosting sperm production.
With these hormones in short supply in your body due to steroid use, it can subsequently lead to infertility in a matter of months with the continuous use of steroids.
However, the infertility that steroids can cause is reversible in adults while prepubescent users of steroids may expose themselves to irreversible infertility issues. In adult bodybuilders, infertility issues caused by steroid use can be avoided by keeping to short cycles and allowing for proper hormonal balance after a cycle and before the start of a new steroid cycle.
Anabolic steroids like testosterone which cause feminization due to their conversion to estrogen in your body can also cause male users to experience other side effects such as a reduction in the size of your testicles (testicular atrophy) and gynecomastia.
#4. Kidney Injury:
Bodybuilders running an anabolic steroid cycle can expose their kidneys to a condition known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. This is a condition where there is scarring in the kidneys.
However, this kidney injury is more common amongst bodybuilders using steroids pills than those using injectable steroids. It must also be mentioned that kidney injury is predominant in bodybuilders that misuse or abuse oral steroids.
Androgenic-anabolic steroids are also known to be responsible for a number of renal health complications like nephropathy, renal hypertrophy, renal cell carcinoma, and acute renal failure. It is therefore important to keep all oral steroid cycles short and the end of a cycle should be followed up with post cycle therapy which should be an essential part of your recovery.
#5. Blood Disorders:
Anabolic steroid use in bodybuilding is highly beneficial to red blood cell production in your body. Steroids can stimulate red blood cell production by boosting the production of both haematocrit (i.e. the percentage volume of red blood cells that are present in your blood) and haemoglobin (which is the oxygen carrying protein in your red blood cells).
With more oxygen supplied to your muscle tissues, you will have better stamina. Endurance is great if you intend to spend a tremendous amount of time lifting weight in the gym as it takes longer for lactic acid to build up in your muscles.
However, with increased red blood cell production comes risks. One of these risks is testosterone-induced polycythaemia otherwise known as
sludging. This is when your red blood cell production is so excessive that your blood literally thickens.
Sludging increases the formation of blood clots in your bloodstream which can cause you to have a stroke, heart attack or may even lead to sudden death.
#6. Thyroid dysfunction:
Anabolic steroid use is known to adversely affect the production and release of key thyroid and parathyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. These important hormones include; T3, T4, Calcitonin and PTH.
While the thyroid gland takes care of many metabolic functions through the hormones it secretes, any disruption in the production of these hormones can lead to bodybuilders experiencing several health conditions as a result.
For example, Triiodothyronine (T3) helps in regulating your metabolism, muscle control, bone density, digestion and even heart rate. With an imbalance in T3 hormone anabolic steroids and stomach problems are not uncommon in bodybuilders.
The 6 side effects of steroids in bodybuilding mentioned in this post can be prevented and controlled in the following ways;
– To avoid having more bad cholesterol (LDL) than good cholesterol (HDL) and in effect endangering your cardiovascular health, it is advisable to regularly check the status of your cholesterol through a blood test.
– Liver toxicity is dangerous to the health of your liver, so using liver protection medication and supplements, such as; TUDCA or SamaGen (Samarin140) can help to reduce the toxicity of your liver and keep it healthy.
– Maintain short oral anabolic steroid cycles and a kidney function checkup and test can help you detect possible scarring in your kidneys early on.
– A complete blood count test will help to know the volume of haematocrit as well and haemoglobin in your blood. A blood thinning medication may be prescribed to help thin out your blood where sludging is apparent. This would be necessary to prevent blood clots that can cause stroke, heart attack or even sudden death.
– Finally, hormone profiling is necessary to know the level of FSH and LH in your body. As mentioned earlier, FSH and LH production is important for sperm production and a good reproductive health.