Anabolic steroids may be great in helping bodybuilders achieve their cutting or bulking goals. Steroids can help bodybuilders to lose weight by increasing metabolism or repartitioning of body fat. Anabolic steroids can also help in the development of lean muscle mass, nitrogen retention and protein synthesis.
Bodybuilders will gain muscle strength, stamina and the endurance needed to complete intense workout sessions. In addition, recovery from muscle strains and injuries is sped up with steroid use thereby preventing any disruption to a training program due to injuries.
However, while steroid use offers a lot of performance enhancing benefits to users, the use of these drugs are not without side effects. Some of these side effects are mild and subtle, while other side effects are very serious and life-threatening in some cases.
There are many effects of anabolic steroids that are reversible, but many more effects are irreversible. It is also worth mentioning that the effects of taking steroids can vary from one steroid user to another. There are several factors that may affect the severity or otherwise of the side effects that a steroid user experiences, these factors may include:
- the body mass index (BMI) of the steroid user,
- the tolerance level of the user,
- the type of steroid, steroid stack, doses, frequency and the duration of steroid use.
For example, there are hepatotoxic oral steroids, such as: Anadrol (Drol) and Anavar (Var) that can seriously damage the liver of steroid users over time.
#1: Common Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids
There are many common side effects of anabolic steroids that male and female bodybuilders (for example) are exposed to. The common side effects of taking steroids for male bodybuilders include:
- Gynecomastia or male boobs,
- Male-pattern baldness,
- Shrunken testicles,
- Low production of sperm,
- Infertility, and
- Testicular cancer.
For female bodybuilders on steroids, the common side effects include:
- A deepening of their voice,
- Breast reduction,
- Male-pattern baldness,
- Excessive facial and body hair, and
- Coarse facial and body skin.
Other effects of anabolic steroids use include skin issues, such as; cysts and severe acne, jaundice, abscess (at the site of the injection), oily skin and scalp. Steroid users also risk coming down with an infection, the most common infections that bodybuilders are exposed to include; hepatitis and HIV/AIDS from the sharing of vials and needles when using injectable steroids.
The liver is subjected to an enormous amount of strain when oral steroids with high hepatotoxicity are used and the health issues arising from steroid use include; peliosis hepatis, tumors and liver cancer. The use of liver supplements and protection drugs are recommended especially when oral steroids are administered over an extensive period of time.
There are also musculoskeletal and psychiatric side effects of anabolic steroids. Where steroids are used by children it can lead to them developing a short stature, but bodybuilders that use steroids stand the risk of tendon injury.
Steroids can increase aggression levels which can be a good thing especially when engaging in an intense workout routine, however continuous steroid use can lead to more serious mental health concerns, such as; delusions, mania, depression, and anxiety. Also, excessive aggression may be a recipe for violence toward others.
#2: Performance Enhancing Effects of Anabolic Steroids
While the use of anabolic steroids can expose users to side effects, they can also offer terrific bulking, cutting and performance enhancing benefits. Anabolic-androgenic steroids provide users with enhanced strength, improved endurance and stamina as well as impressive recovery times. In addition to these, steroids like Dianabol (Dbol) or Testosterone Enanthate (Test) can boost aggression which is needed when you have to engage in intensive workouts on a regular basis.
In addition to strength, stamina, recovery, endurance and aggression; steroids can help you to lose body fat and gain lean muscle mass. In the case of Dbol for example, there will be increased nitrogen retention and protein synthesis in your muscles which causes it to grow bigger. As a matter of fact, with only a couple of weeks of Dbol use, it is expected that you can gain between 5 to 8 lbs (i.e. approx. 2.3 to 3.6 kg) of muscle mass.
#3: Life-threatening Side Effects of Taking Steroids
Finally, steroid use raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) while reducing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) thereby exposing bodybuilders to the risk of developing atherosclerosis (fatty deposit buildup in the arteries) and blood clots which are potentially life-threatening effects of taking steroids, as they can lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as; stroke, damage to arteries and a heart attack.