The side effects of steroid use are a highly contested topic and topic of debate that deserves far more attention than it often receives. There’s no way to deny it, the side effects of steroid use are very real but there’s also no way to deny the side effects of steroid use are often exaggerated and blown way out of proportion. The truth is simple anabolic androgenic steroids are hormones that are not foreign substances to the human body yet like anything you put into your body exogenously negative things can occur. This is true with all medications, not only hormones but even your basic everyday headache and cold remedies from Tylenol to Aspirin and everything in-between. While other medications are one example we can even say the same of many foods there are many people who if they eat peanuts or eggs, drink milk or consume any dairy product they become sick there are even those who if they eat a peanut become deathly ill. This doesn’t mean each and every person will experience these effects if they drink a glass of milk but the potential for an adverse reaction is there.
When we look at the side effects of steroid use there is something very important we need to understand yes, there is a potential for an adverse reaction but we cannot simply look at the potential and end the discussion there, we must have an understanding of the probability. Basic medical evidence shows us that anabolic androgenic steroids are generally very well-tolerated among healthy adult men even supraphysiological doses of testosterone have been shown to be very safe in healthy adult men. What’s more is even our own federal agencies including the AMA, FDA, DEA and others have stated similar claims yet such claims have largely gone ignored and this raises a whole lot of questions.
Common Side Effects of Steroid Use:
While the potential for the side effects of steroid use is there with responsible use the probability remains very low and we will discuss that more as we go along. There are certain side effects of steroid use that are without question the most common and of these effects each one is avoidable or reversible in most all cases with specific genetic exceptions. The common side effects of steroid use include:
- Gynecomastia (Male Breast Enlargement)
- Excess Water Retention
- High Blood Pressure
- High LDL Cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol)
- Low HDL Cholesterol (Good Cholesterol)
- Hair-Loss (Male Pattern Baldness)
- Testicular Atrophy
The first thing you may have noticed was a very specific side effect missing from this list and that was no mistake. It is the side effect that is often the smoking gun of the anti-steroid camp and it is that of “Roid Rage” and it is missing because there is no such thing. There is no scientific or medical evidence that supports “Roid Rage” existing but there is something we need to be clear about. Anabolic androgenic steroids can increase aggression but they cannot alter your mind what you do with the increase in aggression is up to you. Aggression has in recent years been labelled a bad thing but an aggressive nature can be very beneficial for many reasons and for many purposes in life. For the athlete an increase in aggression allows him to train harder and to be a better athlete plain and simple. Now, if an individual who is predisposed to violent behaviour supplements with anabolic steroids this is where problems can arise. If you give a jackass the tools to increase his aggression guess what he’s simply going to be a bigger jackass. While this may sound simplistic it’s really not a complicated matter to understand or see. Further, as an interesting note during the congressional hearings that led to the Controlled Substances Act of 1990 the AMA stated before congress that there was no medical evidence that anabolic androgenic steroids caused, created or aided in any type of mental or physical condition of dependency and stated “we vehemently oppose the ban” and that is definitely food for thought.
Combating the Side Effects of Steroid Use:
Without question your best friend in combating the side effects of steroid use will be and will always be responsible use. Anabolic androgenic steroids carry with them a very real risk to reward ratio the higher the dose the higher the reward can be but as the dose increases so does the probability of negative reactions. If you are a healthy adult male and you supplement at a reasonable level in most cases you will be absolutely fine no, we cannot say you will be fine in 100% of the cases no more than we can say 100% of all who take Aspirin will not run into trouble.
There are also many things we can do to protect ourselves and one is combating aromatase. Many of the common side effects of steroid use are brought on due to a build-up of estrogen in the body. This build-up is brought on due to the aromatase enzyme or aromatase process and we can supplement with aromatase inhibitors (AI’s) and give ourselves protection. Further, while AI’s will help with issues of cholesterol to a degree one of the best things we can do regarding cholesterol and blood pressure is simply by living a healthy lifestyle. Diets that are rich in healthy fats, especially omega fatty acids will greatly aid in this cause and avoiding alcohol consumption on a regular basis will even more greatly improve your odds.
As you may have recalled we mentioned a genetic exception above when we first began discussing the side effects and it is as follows:
- Hair Loss – men who lose any hair due to anabolic androgenic steroid use were going to go bald anyway. Men who are not predisposed to male pattern baldness will not lose any hair. If you do lose any hair the anabolic steroids you supplemented with only sped the process up.
- Acne men who are predisposed to acne and other skin problems will have the greatest risk here but if your anabolic steroids are clean, made properly and of a quality condition men who are not predisposed to such skin problems should be in most all cases in the clear.
- Blood Pressure & Cholesterol – men who are predisposed to issues with either blood pressure or cholesterol may have a harder time combating these issues if you suffer from high blood pressure already you should not touch anabolic androgenic steroids to begin with. Men who are not predisposed to these conditions if they use responsibly will be fine almost 100% of the time.
The Guaranteed Side Effect:
Of all the side effects of steroid use there is one that is absolutely 100% guaranteed and it is that of testicular atrophy and it is also 100% reversible. The reason for this occurrence is simple when anabolic steroids are introduced our natural testosterone production is suppressed. When anabolic androgenic steroids are introduced the body then has no need to produce its own testosterone the human body is not going to do any more work than it has to do. For this reason, as testosterone is manufactured in the testicles, once this production comes to a halt they simply shrink. No, shrinking does not mean they disappear, were simply referring to slight atrophy, they simply lose some of their fullness and the majority of men will not notice a significant difference. Now, once the use of anabolic steroids comes to an end guess what happens? The body now has a need to produce testosterone and as testosterone is now being produced the testicles return to their normal size they regain their normal fullness.