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Steroid Side Effects
A. External Changes
a) Changes in the skin
The skin is the largest organ on the human body and is the most
sensitive area for side effects, especially for women. The most
apparent side effects are the pores in the skin becoming larger making
the skin rough. This is more prominent in woman when they use
androgenic steroids because they usually have smoother skin to begin
with. This process is called virilization and once this has occurred,
the result is irreversible. Another large problem is acne. Acne that
already is apparent may become worse and if there is no acne already,
it can be evoked. This side effect will differ from person to person
as all side effects do, depending on the person’s composition and the
type and amount of steroid used. Again, females are more prone to acne
as well. There are a number of over the counter agents that have
proven themselves to help get rid of acne. Stretch marks are also
prominent, not directly from the use of steroids but from the rapid
growth of the muscles. The only way to prevent stretch marks is to
grow slowly, this however, isn’t what you are looking for I’m sure. I
recommend using aloe or other healing and moisturizing gels or lotions
to help the skin stretch while you are in the process of your biggest
gains, this may not prevent it but it could help.
Steroids do not cause baldness, however, they can speed the process up
for those who are going to loose it anyway. Some steroids convert
largely into DHT, this is what causes hair loss to quicken. Steroids
that are derivatives of DHT can also promote baldness. And yes this is
irreversible as well, 99% of the time when you loose your hair it is
gone for good.
B. Internal Changes
With the use of high dosages of anabolic and androgenic (especially
androgenic) steroids, over a long-term cycle, both men and woman can
develop extremely aggressive behavior or “roid rage”. Some athletes
consider this an advantage because of their increased ability to train
harder and more intensely, however it has been proven to do more harm
than good. Most of the time this “rage” results in loss of
friendships, destructiveness, and inability to control ones behavior.
The best way to prevent this potentially destructive behavior is to
limit the amount and duration of androgenic compounds in ones system.
Also, be aware of this particular side effect and it will be easier to
make the necessary changes to rid yourself of it. Another negative
psychic side effect is the feeling of depression. Often times when
athletes have been using steroids and have experienced huge gains,
they expect to keep the gains after they come off of their cycle. When
reality hits and their performance falls to that of their natural
ability without steroids, he may become depressed. High estrogen
levels can enhance this feeling in the athletes system as well.
Feminization occurs in males only. Excessive levels of testosterone
can often be converted into the female sex hormone estrogen resulting
in some female characteristics such as the formation of breasts (gynecomastia),
increased tendency toward fatty deposits, and extremely soft muscles.
This usually happens after a steroid cycle had just been discontinued
when the males’ androgen level is low and is easily over shadowed by
estrogen. Estradiol, an estrogen, also has an inhibiting effect on the
male gonad cycle, resulting in lowered natural production of
testosterone and thus effecting the male sperm count. Supplementing
your steroid cycle with anti-estrogens (nolvadex, Proviron, Fludestrin,
Teslac, etc…) is a good way to combat these feminization side effects.
In general, these symptoms do go away with time, however, they are
probably the most feared symptoms by all bodybuilders who expect to be
in a competition.
Primarily in females, virilization will result in the assumption of
masculine characteristics. Some of the irreversible side effects
include increased facial and body hair (hirsutism), deepening of the
voice, enlarged clitoris, menstrual irregularities, increased acne,
increased libido, thinning of the hair, baldness, anxiety, depression,
increased aggression, and changes in the texture of the skin. This
process is usually brought on by the use of testosterone or steroids
with high androgenic characteristics in high dosages over a long
duration. Remember, everybody is different; these symptoms vary
greatly from person to person.
The risk of heart disease increases with the use of
anabolic/androgenic steroids. The use of steroids raises the level of
cholesterol in ones system, which causes thickening of arterial walls
and could ultimately be life threatening. It is recommended that
athletes always consult a physician before beginning a steroid cycle
to be sure they are not already at a high risk of cholesterol levels.
It is also recommended that regular visits be made in order to monitor
ones cholesterol. With this one can assume that older male steroid
users are at the highest risk, however this does not mean that younger
users are not at risk. Some other undesirable factors that could
promote heart disease are stress, high blood pressure, and rapid
weight increase. The only thing good about this major side effect is
that is not irreversible. Usually after a steroid cycle is
discontinued, the athlete’s cholesterol levels return to normal.
As explained earlier, gynecomastia (bitch tits) is the abnormal
enlargement of one or both breasts in a man. This is usually brought
on by a hormonal imbalance, which can be achieved by the use of
steroids. This condition can occur naturally, without the use of
steroids as well. This is definitely one of the least favorable of
side effects because can look terrible, especially if you are planning
to be in a competition. If caught early, gynecomastia, along with
other feminization side effects can be prevented by the use of
anti-estrogens such as Nolvadex and Proviron.
f) Growth Deficits
When athletes who have not reached their predicted height use
steroids, it is likely that they will not grow to their full
potential. With the exception of Oxandrone, all steroid compounds
promote the closure of the epiphyseal plates, which in turn
discontinues bone growth. This is why it is not recommended that
teenagers use any type of steroid.
Steroidal compounds and other supplements used by bodybuilders can
trigger a hormonal imbalance, which will alter the persons endocrine
system. This could explain why many athletes have had this problem.
Headaches are also a symptom of possible high blood pressure, which is
another side effect associated with steroid supplementation. The only
way to combat this side effect is by taking an over the counter
medicine such as Tylenol, Advil, or Aspirin; or sometimes a visit to
your chiropractor can help alleviate some head pain.
h) Kidney Problems
Some steroid compounds have appeared to have an adverse effect on
kidney function. This, like most of the side effects described, has a
higher tendency to exist when longer durations or high dosages are
being consumed. The kidneys main purpose is to filter toxic
byproducts, and excrete them. Whenever a person is on any type of
drug, their kidneys are under more stress than ordinary. An
electrolyte imbalance and high blood pressure can both lead to
improper kidney function. Kidney disorders are often reflected in
edema, lower back pain, renal colic, fever, kidney enlargement, and
swelling in the costovertebral region.
i) Liver Problems
With the use of steroidal compounds, liver damage can occur. A
condition called Peliosis Hepatis is rare but is certainly life
threatening, because it not usually found until the liver is
completely shut down or until an intra-abdominal hemorrhage develops.
The development of this problem usually repairs itself as steroid use
is terminated. However, to further protect yourself, it is suggested
that the use of large quantities of standardized Silymarin extract
(Milk Thistle Seed), to the amount of 500mg per day, can promote
improvement in liver function.
j) Immune System
Some steroid supplements such as testosterone can provide an improved
immune system state, making it easier to recover and ward off viral
illnesses. The body then becomes somewhat dependent on the steroid
supplementation and must be rejuvenated after the supplementation has
been discontinued. A person in this position should do his best not to
become over tired and rundown. This will allow the immune system to
become self-reliant again and therefore effective. Often times when a
person discontinues their steroid cycle, they allow themselves to
become tired and rundown leading to a tendency to become infected with
a viral illness, colds, and sometimes pneumonia.
When first administering steroids, a man will have an increase in
sexual function. This unfortunately is only temporary as your body
becomes used to the steroid in its system. With prolonged use of a
steroid, eventually, the man will feel less sexual desire, and will be
less capable of maintaining an erection. Luckily, this is only
temporary as well and can even be totally prevented with the use of
substance such as Gonakor and HCG. Also when the steroid use is
discontinued, the body’s natural level of testosterone (like the
immune system) will certainly be suppressed. Tribestan, is a great
product to use to help revitalize a persons natural testosterone
l) High Blood Pressure
The only way to monitor your blood pressure is to have it checked by a
physician, unless you have other means of doing it yourself. There is
no real “symptoms” that will let you know that you have high blood
pressure until it is already too high. Then the symptoms are
headaches, vision problems, insomnia, and difficulty breathing. High
blood pressure is usually induced by high water or sodium retention
accompanied with a rapid weight increase. Stress, overworking, over
eating, and holding your breath during very heavy lifts can also
promote high blood pressure.
Oral steroids can sometime bring about stomachaches in some users, the
most common being Anapolon, Stenox, Primabolan, Winstrol, and Dianabol.
The symptoms can be anything from a slight discomfort to nausea,
diarrhea, and vomiting. Sometimes this can be avoided by taking the
steroids at mealtime.
n) Water/Salt Retention
Most steroids will cause a water and electrolyte storage in the
muscles resulting in a swelling of the tissue. For the most part this
is not such a bad side effect due to the increase in muscle size and
strength. The problem is the increase water retention in the skin and
blood. This usually causes a persons skin to look puffy and swollen
and puts a larger strain on ones heart. The use of a diuretic can help
to relieve ones body from the excess water and salt retention.
What Leads To Negative Side Effects
The biggest factor leading to negative side effects is misuse.
Everybody is different and the affect that a certain steroid will have
can vary widely from person to person. Most of the time, negative side
effects are more prevalent in a person who has used large quantities
of strong androgenic substances for extended periods of time. It is
important to be aware of all the effects that a substance might
produce, and be able to recognize that they are happening. Regular
doctor visits are always recommended for blood checks and advice.
Another factor leading to negative side effects is the use of fakes.
As described above, most fakes do not even contain anabolic or
androgenic substances and on top of that, may not even be sterile.
This could lead to potential life threatening diseases such as AIDS.
It is important that if you are using needles, you should never share
with another person and always use sterile equipment. Steroids are
illegal substances and can be very detrimental to the human body. They
can also be very helpful if used the correct way and under a
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promote or support the taking of anabolic/androgenic steroids or other
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