While steroids offer athletes in general and bodybuilders in particular a number of performance-enhancing benefits, they do also have common side effects that all users need to be aware of.
Similar to any other drug, anabolic steroids are also known to cause some unpleasant reaction and symptoms when used by bodybuilders. The side effects of steroids as experienced by bodybuilders can be felt during and after the completion of a cycle.
The severity of anabolic steroids side effects normally ranges from mild to severe depending on the dosage administered, the duration of use of the steroids, the type of steroids used in a stack, and the physiology of the bodybuilder.
Bodybuilders that run a stack of steroids on a bulking or cutting program are more likely to experience a host of side effects that may last longer and be more severe than bodybuilders who run a cycle consisting of just a single steroid. Also, using higher doses of steroids would increase the side effects that a steroid user is likely to experience.
Anabolic steroids side effects also differ in men and women bodybuilders, but both genders may experience common side effects that are synonymous with the type of steroids that they have used. That being said, here are some common side effects associated with different forms of steroids used by powerlifters, athletes, and bodybuilders.
Typical Oral and Injectable Steroids used by Bodybuilders
Some of the oral steroids used by bodybuilders in a steroid stack include:
- Clenbuterol, and
For the injectable steroids you have:
- Testosterone Cypionatess,
- Testosterone Enanthate,
- Equipoise, and
Injectable and Oral Anabolic Steroids Side Effects
The common side effects of steroids that are administered orally in the form of pills or as injectables include;
#1: An increased appetite and weight gain: Hunger pangs and an increase in appetite is one of the common side effects of steroids. Testosterone boosters tend to boost the metabolic rate of users which then makes them burn fat and calories quicker than normal.
With a rise in metabolism, a bodybuilder feeling famished often is something that is quite understandable. An increase in the volume of food consumed can lead to weight gain which is great if a bodybuilder is running a bulking cycle, but unwanted if a cutting cycle is in effect.
#2: Restlessness and insomnia: Another one of the common anabolic steroids side effects that bodybuilders can come to expect, is a change in their sleeping habits. It is not unusual for steroid users to be restless. Restlessness and insomnia can be attributed to a significant rise in your testosterone levels.
This is why it is important that you put in a considerable amount of time and work in the gym. When you engage in an intense workout program, you use up an incredible amount of energy and when you do, you are more likely to be in need of rest and fall asleep.
#3: Mood swings: Steroids are known to cause users to have mood swings. Many bodybuilders that use steroids say that they feel irritable without knowing exactly why. Increased antianxiety and even bouts of depression can also be associated with steroid use and are quite common as well.
#4: Stomach aches: Stomach aches and pains are common anabolic steroids side effects and this can also be followed up by heartburn and indigestion issues. In severe cases, it may be advisable to either reduce the dosage of the steroids being used or to completely stop the cycle all together.
#5: Muscle aches: Injectable steroids are administered intravenously in muscle tissue. Muscle aches and pains are common side effects experienced by bodybuilders using injectables. However, regular use and training may help to reduce the pains that are felt.
#6: Liver Damage: Many steroids are hepatotoxic and when oral and injectable steroids like Clenbuterol, Dianabol (also available as an injectable), Anavar, Anadrol, Equipoise, Trenbolone and Deca-Durabolin are misused or abused they may cause severe damage to the liver.
Post Cycle Therapy, Anti-estrogen and Liver Protection
It is important that bodybuilders commence with Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) after the completion of a steroid cycle. The PCT would involve the use of certain drugs to help resolve hormonal imbalance caused by the intense use of steroids over an extended period of time.
PCT helps to restore the natural production of testosterone by the testicles or ovaries in men and women respectively. The most common PCT medications include; Tamoxifen, Nolvadex and Clomid.
A doctor would prescribe the ideal PCT drug as well as dosage and duration of use. Nevertheless, the duration of PCT can vary from person to person due to a number of factors such as the type and duration of steroid use.
A recommended PCT to restore hormonal balance in bodybuilders after a steroid cycle involves the daily use of a single tablet each of Clomid and Nolvadex for a period of 3 weeks.
Bodybuilders on hepatotoxic oral and injectable steroids like Dianabol, Masteron, Holotestin, Turinabol, Anavar, Winstrol (injectable and oral) and Androlic need to protect their liver from damage. To this end, they can use Samarin-liver protection while still running their steroid cycle (usually 2 to 4 tablets daily would suffice).
In addition to liver protection, bodybuilders on a steroid cycle may also need to regulate prolactin and estradiol hormone levels. The use of anti-estrogen medication becomes essential in order to avoid the development of gynaecomastia or male boobs.
Some anti-estrogens that can be used include; Proviron, Arimidex, Exemestane, and Clomiphene-antiestrogen. During a steroid cycle, bodybuilders can use between 25 to 50 milligrams of Proviron daily. Alternatively, a single tablet of Arimidex can be used every couple of days while the bodybuilder is still running a steroid cycle.
Common side effects of Steroid Gels, Creams, Ointments and Eye drops
Steroids are not only administered orally or through a needle, they may also be administered in the form of gels, creams, ointments and eye drops. These forms of steroids also have side effects and some of these include;
A change in the colour of the skin
Stretch marks and a thinning of the skin
Stinging and mild burns on the steroid application site
Rapid hair growth on the site of steroid application
A stinging feeling and even a burning sensation in the eyes.
Once again, the intensity of the common anabolic steroids side effects tend to differ from bodybuilder to bodybuilder. The reasons for this are many and include the gender of the bodybuilder, their physiological makeup, as well as the quantity and duration of their steroid use.
Side effects can also range from mild to severe in their intensity and while a person may experience mild side effects after using a particular dosage of a steroid, another individual may experience severe side effects from a similar steroid use and dosage.