Biological Effects on the Human Body of Using Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic Steroids are usually administered as a medical treatment for certain diseases and physical abnormalities. It is a group of synthetic hormones derived from testosterone. It is normally used to create a balance between the hormones, for leukemia treatment, and to increase the appetite of patients with chronic diseases such as cancer and AIDS.  However, due to its potential, Anabolic Steroids are known to be used for non-medical reasons. Unauthorized use of anabolic steroids has very dangerous effects on the human body. If used in high dosages and administered improperly, it could damage our reproductive system as well as important organs such as the liver, the heart and the brain. It is important to learn how Anabolic Steroids affect our body functions in order to prevent and avoid unauthorized use.

Anabolic Steroid (AS) is a group of synthetic hormones derived from testosterone. It was created for medical treatment of diseases and physical abnormalities. It has the ability to produce numerous physiological effects including increased protein synthesis, muscle mass, strength, appetite and bone growth. Anabolic Steroids can be taken orally or parenterally. These controlled drugs are effective and beneficial if administered properly. Below are some medical conditions that can be effectively treated with Anabolic Steroids with proper usage and dosage.

Leukemia Treatment Anabolic Steroids can stimulate the bone marrow and increase production of red blood cell.

Solution to delayed puberty   It can stimulate the hormones to induct puberty for body development.

Treating Angioedema   It can minimize or eliminate swelling of face, arms, legs, throat, windpipe, bowels, or sexual organs.

Treatment of chronic conditions such as cancer and AIDS   It can stimulate appetite and promotes steady intake of food that can boost the immune system.

Treatment for deteriorating body mass and bone loss in elderly men as well as increasing sexual libido.

Hormone Replacement Therapy   It is an effective treatment for men with low level of testosterone.

Therapy after severe injury   Anabolic Steroids can help bones and muscles growth and development in physical therapy.

However, taking anabolic steroids has its side effects. Taking it without a medical   prescription has serious adverse effects which can jeopardize ones health. Extensive studies have been made with the side effects of orally administered AS. It has shown that the majority involves hospitalized patients who are treated for prolonged periods for various diseases, such as anemia, renal insufficiency, impotence, and dysfunction of the pituitary gland. Anabolic Steroids are also known to enhance athletic performance. Athletes using Anabolic Steroids are most likely at risk since they are consuming more than the recommended dosage for medicinal therapy. The side effects vary on frequency and severity and depend on several factors such as dosage, duration, method of how it was used, (oral or parenteral), and their bodys response.

A normal human body produces its own testosterone so adding more than necessary can have negative effects on the body. Prolonged use of Anabolic Steroids in unregulated or high doses will signal the body to minimize the production of its own testosterone. It causes defect of the gonads called Hypogonadism. Hypogonadism affects the brain specifically the pituitary gland that signals the production and release of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). LH and FSG are serum concentrations of gonadotropins which are responsible in the production and regulation of hormones in the reproductive system. A moderate decrease of gonadotropin secretion causes atrophy of the testes and decrease of sperm cell production. Testicular dysfunctions like Oligospermia (absence of semen) and Azoospermia (absence of sperm) are other effects of Anabolic Steroids. These factors cause male infertility. Some studies suggest that  stacking  or using more than one type of anabolic steroid at the same time causes a stronger inhibition of the gonadal functions than using one single Anabolic Steroid. After abstention from anabolic steroids, these changes in fertility usually reverse within a month or two. However, several cases have been reported in which the situation of Hypogonadism lasted for more than 12 weeks.

Another side effect of Anabolic Steroids in males is Gynecomastia. It is a breast formation caused by increased levels of circulating estrogens. Naturally, male human body has a low level of estrogens and its function is to stabilize androgens or testosterone to a normal level. If the male body detects increase in the testosterone level, it reacts and produces more estrogens to balance it. The human body can convert Anabolic Steroids into estrogens. Estrogens stimulate breast growth or gynecomastia which is irreversible. Also, prolonged and unregulated use of Anabolic Steroids increases Dihydrotestosterone  or DHT. It can accelerate baldness and may cause prostate cancer.

It has also been reported that Anabolic Steroids users experience increase in sexual desire. However, the frequency of erectile dysfunction will increase as well. It may sound contradictory but sexual appetite is androgen dependent while erectile function is a complex interaction of psychological, neural (brain signals), vascular (blood flow) and endocrine (hormones) factors. Anabolic Steroids affect all of these four factors.

Female Anabolic Steroids users are also affected. In a female human body, small amounts of testosterone are also produced and increasing the level by administration of Anabolic Steroids will affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. The presence of abnormal male hormones in females will result to inhibition of follicle formation, ovulation, and irregularities of the menstrual cycle or Amenorrhoea (absence of mentrual period). Other side effects of anabolic steroid use in females are increased sexual desire and hypertrophy of the clitoris.

Although it has not been systematically studied and tested, there are some cases of pregnant women that took Anabolic Steroids and experienced fetal growth retardation, pseudo-hermaphroditism or having undistinguished genitals at birth, and even fetal death. Since testing cannot be done with pregnant women, it is theorized that the severity of the side effects is likely related to the dosage, duration of use and the type of the drug. Other side effects of Anabolic Steroids in women are appearance of facial hair growth and breast atrophy. There are also irreversible side effects like lowering of the voice, decreased breast size and clitoris hypertrophy. Females may also develop masculine facial traits, male muscularity, and coarsening of the skin.

Some doctors may prescribe Anabolic Steroids to induce puberty to children experiencing delayed pubertal stage. There have been reported cases of premature closure of the epiphysis resulting to stunted growth. There are cases of Gynecomastia or breast growth as well.

There were also frequent reports of hypertrophy of sebaceous glands that causes acne. There is some evidence that Anabolic Steroids abuse may affect the immune system, leading to a decreased effectiveness of the defense system. Steroid use decreases the glucose tolerance, while there is an increase in insulin resistance. These changes mimic Type II diabetes. It may also affect the thyroid function. Administration of Anabolic Steroids has been found to decrease Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH, Thyroid Binding Globulin or TBG and the products of the thyroid gland. These changes are reversed within weeks after abstention from the drugs.

Aside from the effects of Anabolic Steroids with the hormones and the reproductive system, it also has adverse effects on the internal organs such as the liver. Orally administered Anabolic Steroids could damage the liver more than the parenterally administered or Injectable Anabolic Steroids. However, lesions of the liver have also been reported after parenteral administration. It has been observed that patients with abnormal liver functions are more at risk. Appearances of tumors or cysts have also been reported. Usually, the tumors are benign. However, there are some indications that consistent administration of anabolic steroids in athletes may lead to malignant tumors that can cause liver cancer. Malignant tumors or hepatic carcinoma is often asymptomatic and very hard to detect. Both cysts and tumors can also rupture that may cause internal bleeding or death.

Anabolic Steroids can also affect the circulatory system. Users are more at risk of cardiovascular diseases. It elevates blood pressure and causes harmful changes in cholesterol level. Studies proved that some Anabolic Steroids can cause increase of LDL or bad cholesterol and decrease of HDL or good cholesterol. Anabolic steroids have been shown to alter fasting blood sugar and glucose tolerance tests.

Using Anabolic Steroids or having abnormal amount of testosterone  also has  psychological effects. Some studies suggest that users develop aggressiveness, temperamental issues and criminal tendencies. There were reports of violent behavior, criminal and sexual assaults in individuals taking Anabolic Steroids. It is commonly called Roid Rage. Other psychological side effects of Anabolic Steroids are euphoria, confusion, sleeping disorders, pathological anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. Anabolic Steroids users may also become dependent to the drug and cessation to it may result to withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms consist of aggressive and violent behavior, mental depression with suicidal behavior, mood changes, and in some cases, acute psychosis.


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