Everyone and their mother have heard the term ‘steroids’ before. In fact, the moment we mention the term, some of our readers have a particular image in their heads. That image is a buff, humongous (one might even say ‘roided out) gentleman whose arm is the size of Texas.
In the world of both professional bodybuilding or weightlifting and the world of amateur gym rats, people hear the word ‘steroids’ more often than they want to. And yes, 90% of the time the S-word will be brought up in a negative context.
What Are Steroids?
Why do so many people dislike steroids to the point of mocking those who use them? A lot of it has to do with what steroids do to our bodies. We will cover some of the negative effects that frequent steroid use can cause. But before we do, let’s define the term.
Steroids are naturally occurring organic compounds. Plants, animals, fungi and other living organisms produce them. They ‘appear’ in cells from two different sterols. The first, cycloartenol, appears in plants. The second, which appears in opisthokonts (plants, animals, humans, and fungi) is called lanosterol.
However, the steroids used in bodybuilding fall under a single category. They are the so-called anabolic steroids. Most of them are made when we combine natural testosterone and synthetic androgens that have similar properties to testosterone. Men naturally produce testosterone as it plays a major role in developing the prostate and testes. It also promotes an increase in bone and muscle mass, as well as hair growth.
With all of that in mind, it’s not strange that some athletes use steroids and other enhancement drugs to get stronger, bigger and buffer. Let’s take a look at what else they can do to our bodies besides making them stronger.
Steroids and Our Outer Body
If a man who uses steroids has a genetic predisposition to go bald, he will go bald more quickly than he would naturally. Steroids are merely speeding up the process.
However, some men don’t go bald when they get older. It all comes down to the male genetic line. In other words, men whose fathers and grandfathers didn’t go bald easily will keep their hair longer, even while using steroids.
No, we’re not talking about getting wide hips, or even tiny, withered ones. The hip problems that come with steroid use are far worse.
A frequent steroid user is more likely to suffer from something called aseptic necrosis of the femoral head. For our readers that don’t know a lot about human anatomy, the femoral head is the highest point of the femur or the thigh bone. It connects our hips to our legs, and needless to say, it’s extremely important.
Like all other parts of our body, our femurs need oxygen which is transported via blood. Frequent steroid use slows down the blood flow until barely any blood comes through.
If we were to inject steroids on a daily basis, we risk causing the femoral head to crumble. That can lead to immense hip pain and even fractures later in life. As a consequence, we might have to get artificial hip surgery.
3. Man Boobs
The condition known as man boobs also goes by other derogatory titles, such as man titties, boy bosom, moobs, and bitch tits. However, the medical term is gynecomastia. Of course, most people think this term refers to obese men having large, woman-like breasts. But that’s not the case. Gynecomastia is actually referring to men with basic (or even buff) physique who are growing what appears to be female breasts with swollen nipples.
Steroids usually contain lots of testosterone, but some have a different hormone called estrogen. Estrogen is the dominant hormone in females and acts as the counterpoint to testosterone in many ways. Of course, it’s responsible for female reproduction, hip-widening, female fat redistribution, and breast development.
Naturally, when a man injects large amounts of estrogen into his system, he will begin to acquire some female characteristics. Gynecomastia is the most obvious characteristic, and we can only fix it through surgery. Similarly, women who take testosterone can develop male characteristics such as a deeper voice and breast reduction.
Steroids and Our Kidneys
We need our kidneys to survive. They help us filtrate toxic materials we ingest and keep our body safe. But once we start taking steroids, they have to ‘work overtime,’ essentially. The more we force our kidneys to process materials within steroids, the more likely they are to get damaged. In fact, kidney failure and death can also result from this.
Steroids and Sexual Performance
Now, contrary to popular belief, steroids will not shrink a man’s penis. However, they will do so to his testicles.
Let’s again refer to our section on man boobs. Female breasts fall under what we call ‘secondary sex characteristics.’ In other words, the dominant hormone in one sex has one main purpose but also has notable secondary effects. When estrogen levels increase in men, they get more female characteristics.
The same can be said with testicles. Both estrogen and testosterone in steroids can cause the testicles to shrink, but for different reasons. When we put too much testosterone inside of us, our body begins to produce less of it. When that happens, we produce less semen. So while our penises might stay the same, or even grow larger in some cases, they effectively become useless because of these side-effects.
2. Sexual Performance (or Lack Thereof)
At first, steroid users will have a massive libido. However, once they stop taking steroids, they will often suffer from erectile dysfunction.
There are two reasons for these outcomes. The first is that our body no longer has the amount of testosterone it did during steroid intake. As such, we’re having a hard time getting erections. The second reason is the aforementioned hormone imbalance. Different levels of testosterone and estrogen in our bodies can seriously affect our sex lives.
In case someone wants to be a father, we would strongly recommend that he skips steroids entirely. One of the side-effects of steroid abuse is infertility. Not only will our testes shrink and our penises fail to get erect, but we will also produce less semen overall. With a reduced sperm count, our chances of fathering children are very small.
Using steroids might give a man the dream physique of a professional bodybuilder. However, there are too many well-documented side-effects of steroid abuse. Because of that, we always encourage our readers to be careful when it comes to this subject. It’s always better to get buff the natural way than to risk your health, your sex life, and your future by using synthetic enhancement drugs.