Written by R. S Jacobs

Steroid ImageAnabolic steroid use is undeniably a controversial topic in fitness. These “special vitamins” are flooding every aspect of the health industry which makes me wonder – if buying and selling anabolic steroids is illegal, how are so many people using them? Despite the fact that steroids are obviously being used, there is also a hugely negative stigma that goes along with it and most steroid users would categorically deny that they are using ‘extra-curricular’ methods to obtain abnormal and often drastic changes in their physique.

In some cases, I have seen people who have completely changed their body, to the point that it looks unnatural, whilst still maintaining it’s down to hard work and good diet! Steroid use looks to be one of the most secretive habits in the fitness industry, but even more worryingly is the addictive behaviour that users display such as a change in personality, increased aggression, denial and much more.

So, what are anabolic steroids? To put it simply, anabolic steroids mimic natural hormones within the body that are responsible for muscle growth. Steroids are performance-enhancing drugs that trigger the unnatural production of testosterone with the sole aim of increasing physical muscle mass. The most obvious users were bodybuilders back in the day, but over the years, steroid use has trickled down to adults and teenagers, professional athletes, actors, wrestlers, models, office workers, and even everyday average gym goers looking for that extra oomph.

A lot of people argue that using steroids to enhance performance is cheating, especially in professional sports, which I agree with 100%. However, my main focus is on the health implications of steroids which many users seem to be oblivious to. One of the most dangerous misconceptions many users ultimately believe that they can avoid the detrimental side effects of steroids by mixing different gear. By using stacking, cycling and pyramiding techniques, they use one type of steroid to counteract the side effects of another, in order to ward off possible negative side effects. My question is, does this actually stop the inevitable from happening? Sadly, no!

The usage of steroids might give your physique a nice shredded, sculpted look in a short amount of time, coupled with higher levels of energy allowing you to increase performance. The major consequences of all these seemingly remarkable results are fatal side effects that start exhibiting themselves very early on in the process. In men, common side effects include shrunken testicles, development of breast tissue, erectile dysfunction, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness and the dreaded acne. In women, common conditions are the rapid growth of facial hair, reduction of breast tissues, deepening of the voice, menstrual problems and also acne.

Anabolic steroids interact with sex hormones in the body by altering its functionality. Our body naturally produces the same hormones that steroids produce, but when a person ingests unnatural synthetic hormones, the body begins to go into attack mode in an attempt to defend itself. As I have said many times, the body always works to maintain a state of equilibrium, a natural balance within the body. So, when you pump high levels of foreign hormones into the body on a regular basis, the body has no option but to retaliate in order to rid itself of these toxins.

Whilst your body is working overtime to purge itself, what do you think happens to the everyday essential functions that the body needs to perform in order to stay in tip-top shape? Having the body in a constant state of battle is only going to end up in disaster, therefore the seemingly positive results from steroids are short-lived in relation to the destruction of your mental, psychological and physical wellbeing.

The most frequent error is the belief that to avoid damage to your health, you can take steroids only for a couple of years to achieve your desired results before stopping cold turkey, and maintaining the results. Again, this is a false logic as steroid use is an addictive habit, so once you are hooked on the results or feeling you get when you see how much weights you can lift, the chances of being able to stop are next to impossible.

Dangers of Anabolic Steroids.

Steroid Image 2

* Causes Atherosclerosis. Over recent decades, patients with atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries) are significantly increasing specifically due to steroid use. People on “gear” tend to have increasingly bad cholesterol levels with more fatty deposits around the artery walls. This contributes to excessive plaque and hardening of the arteries which provide the main supply of blood to the heart. This eventually causes heart conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, angina, and cardiomyopathy.

* Increased Infertility. Steroid use can cause infertility in both men and women. As mentioned earlier, steroids interact with sex hormones in the body by reducing the sperm count in men or the production of eggs in the ovaries for women. High levels of testosterone interfere with these vital hormone signals needed for reproduction. It could take years to restore the damage and in some cases, it can be irreversible.

* Liver Tumors. When you take steroids, the liver’s immediate response is to rid the body of the toxins. However, due to complex formation found in steroids, they activate the abnormal growth of blood-filled cysts in the liver. These cysts can go on to become cancerous or rupture, leading to internal bleeding. Other liver conditions caused by steroids are hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver fibrosis.

* Causes Edema. Anabolic steroid promotes the retention of water and salt. As a result, your body distributes this excess water into tissues underneath the skin, causing legs, feet, hand or arms to swell. In addition, too much water and salt in the body puts a lot of strain on the heart and kidneys, which can lead to inflammation of body parts or even worse multiple organ failure.

* Skin Infection. Acne is one of the first and most common side effects of steroid use, but other skin conditions include inflammation of the epidermis, fungal infections, and inactive collagen production. Generally speaking, steroids cause the skin to produce excess oil which leads to the formation of pus in the back, shoulders, chest and face. For steroid users, whose main goal is to look good, being covered in acne is a nightmare!

* Psychological Damage. Steroid users fail to foresee the adverse psychological damage caused by anabolic steroids. This substance directly alters behavioural patterns in the brain by modifying the hormones needed for emotions, thought process, sleeping, growth, learning and memory. Most users demonstrate addictive behaviour very early into their steroid journey, and this demonstrates itself in an extreme difficulty in considering the necessity to stop using them. The symptoms of withdrawal can result in aggressive behaviour, mood changes, suicidal thoughts and in some cases, psychosis.

* Death. Unfortunately, there has been a disturbing amount of deaths as a direct consequence of anabolic steroid use. Medical finding shows that this is due to the detrimental effects on all organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, skin and the brain. Fatal consequences such as ruptured aorta, swollen lungs, liver cancer, kidney cancer, HIV, stroke and heart failure which all lead to one direction…DEATH. If death is the ultimate price you have to pay to build muscle, then I think it’s most definitely not worth the risk!

True results take time, be patient and take the long-term approach. Like the saying goes, nothing in life worth having comes easy, don’t be lazy and use the cheats way. Accept that you will need to work hard, eat well and stay disciplined if you want to see changes in your body. Please, don’t fall victim to the lazy man’s method!

In conclusion, what steroids gives with one hand, it most certainly takes with the other, and what it takes most certainly outweighs the reward. You must ask yourself, is it really worth the risk? It might give you a six-pack but if it goes on to destroy your internal system, leaving you with long-term health issues, is this really the best method? I think if you asked any person what one of the most important things in life was, they would tell you health. Why take that risk, and toy with something so precious that many take for granted, once you lose it, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Steroids not only affect the user’s life, but the lives of those around them too.

Stay strong, warriors.

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