Sports figures using steroids and the ensuing scandals is nothing new. There are many athletes who don’t mind risking their employment, health, and independence just for that extra edge on the event day. And this is not surprising as excellent sporting performances get the biggest rewards. There hasn’t been much research on anabolic steroid usage among athletes. Testosterone programs help build body size, and increase healing rate and muscle strength. However, these benefits are linked with several long-term and short-term risks.
• Enhanced Muscle Strength
There are both scientific and anecdotal tales talking about the muscle strength-steroid connection. The most widely used testosterone form, testosterone enanthate helps increase cycling performance and bench press strength in healthy individuals. Prior research proved such results become tangible within 5-10 weeks of treatment. However, recent studies saw subjects getting results in as little time as three weeks. These results prove steroid use could increase muscle strength quickly.
• Increased Body Frame
Other studies also prove steroids help increase overall body size. In fact, multiple research studies corroborate this finding. In one of the several tests, testosterone enanthate’s effects on healthy weight trainers was tested. The hormone increased body weight significantly, along with quadriceps and bicep circumference. The study also showed abdomen tightness increase. However, such constrictions are unusual as most research studies don’t throw any light on steroid’s fat-reducing effect.
• Increased Healing Rate
Another reported steroid effect is the positive influence on healing rate. There is a good collection of data talking about steroid usage by subjects suffering from injuries and burns. A recent research study showed oxandrolone – testosterone’s synthetic derivative – increased muscle strength, improved lean mass, and restored weight in individuals with major thermal injuries.
It’s not ethically correct to talk about steroid’s positives and leave out its side effects. Many well-researched literature on steroids have highlighted both the negatives and positives of using performance-enhancement drugs such as anabolic steroids. Though initially invented for medicinal reasons, athletes often use steroids illegally for improving their performance. The positive effects come to light in the starting periods; however, the negative effects are many and could be life-changing.
Anabolic steroid use’s major health effects include jaundice, liver tumors, high blood pressure, and fluid retention. The most disturbing of all is the adverse cardiac effect. These conditions could show up either in their mild or serious forms. Since steroids fiddle with cholesterol levels, prolonged or overuse of steroids could also result in heart disease. Steroid usage’s another common effect is acne. Even people who never had skin-related problems may develop acne.
For males, breast development or gynecomastia is common. The condition is caused by an abnormally big fatty tissue gland. When using steroid for the first time, most men are thrilled about their prospects of developing longer-lasting, more frequent erections. However, the results achieved tend to be the opposite, leaving most males not able to get an erection. Similarly, men also experience decreased fertility and sperm count. Hair loss is another problem that’s quite common among men.
Females using steroids often develop hair in unwanted spots on the body. Several women also notice a marked change in voice quality and texture, sounding more like males. And there are women who experience menstrual cycle irregularities, or no menstrual cycles at all.
Adolescent users of steroids usually experience problems with physical growth and development. In other words, they often end up not reaching their ideal height before the growth plates fuse together. Also, during puberty, the normal development speed often increases multifold.
• Behavioral Changes
Another major side effect of steroids is behavioral change. This issue effects all steroid users – irrespective of their age and gender. Also called roid rage, several athletes fancy the increased aggression they experience after using steroids, which helps them perform better at games or events and also during intense exercise sessions. At times, the boost in testosterone also spikes up libido excessively. Unfortunately, the aggression also reflects in their personal lives, giving family and friends a taste of their newly found aggression. This could tremendously affect personal life and relationships. Users could suffer from extreme irritability, paranoid jealousy, impaired judgment and delusions stemming from the false perception of invincibility.