Some people opt substances such as anabolic-androgenic steroids. This is normally done in order to increase power beyond the natural limit and increase muscle strength. Anabolic substances refer to growth promotion while androgenic substances refer to the development of male sex characteristics.
These substances come with a number of potential side effects, even though they have well-documented muscle-building capabilities. This article depicts 4 crucial things that every person should know about steroids.
Essence of steroids
In medical terms, anabolic-androgenic steroids, which are also known as AAS, are a synthetic form of testosterone. It is a primary male sex hormone. These substances are aimed to affect various parts of your body including your muscles, bones, liver, hair follicles, kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems.
You should be also aware of the fact that humans naturally produce this hormone. When it comes to men, testosterone levels increase during puberty to stimulate the development of make sex traits such as a deeper voice, sex drive, body hair growth, increased muscle mass as well as increased height.
Women also produce this type of hormone but in significantly smaller amounts. This hormone is responsible for promoting bone density and a healthy libido in women. A regular person should have a testosterone level ranginging from 300 to 1,000 ng/dL for men and 15-70 ng/dL for women. If you take steroids, your levels of this hormone raise. As a result, you will experience improved muscle growth and strength.
Purposes of steroids
When people hear the word “steroids”, they tend to think about bodybuilders who take them to stimulate muscle growth. This is the most common application of steroids. However, they can be also used for a number of other purposes. When it comes to anabolic steroids, their main benefits are as follows:
- Increased muscles tissue due to improved protein synthesis
- Increased muscle power and strength
- Decreased body fat percentage
- Improved recovery time from exercises or trauma
- Improved muscle endurance
- Enhanced red blood cell production
Professional athletes normally look for ways to improve their performance and get an edge over the competition. Sometimes athletes cannot improve their key performance indicators simply by exercising more or having a proper diet. Because of this, they decided to take a step further and make use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). And here is when AAS comes into play. AAS substances are the major PADs taken by athletes. They are known to increase muscle mass, which leads to an improved power output.
Athletes, who use AAS substances normally experience strength gains of 5 to 20 percent and weight gains of 4.5 to 11 pounds. It might be due to an increase in lean body mass. As far as you know, steroids are forbidden in professional sports. Therefore, the dosing of steroids tends to be relatively conservative for the purpose of avoiding detection.
Some people have a conception that steroids are mainly used to increase muscle mass. However, that is not necessarily true. Weight management specialists say that AAS substances are mainly used for recovery and enhanced power output purposes.
If we take strength sports like bodybuilding or powerlifting, muscle strength, power and size directly affect the overall performance of an athlete. Thus, athletes who are involved in these types of sports are known for extensive use of AAS substances.
A lot of federations of strength sports do nor perform testing for AAS substances. That is why the dosing of these substances in strength sports is more liberal. Specialists claim that potential side effects of steroids can be observed at higher doses.
There are also a lot of people who suffer from muscle-wasting diseases. These diseases can be caused by AIDS, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney and cancer. In order to improve muscle mass, people with muscle-wasting disease might make use of AAS substances. Even though AAS substances are not the only method to preserve muscle mass, they are still beneficial for the group of people suffering muscle-wasting diseases.
Potential side effects of steroids
Despite all the benefits that AAS substances have, they also come with a number of potential side effects, whose severity varies depending on the dosage of steroids. Doctors say that a person’s genetics also has an effect on the way he/she responds to AAS substances.
The most common side effects of steroids are as follows:
- Increased likelihood of heart disease: if you combine AAS substances with resistance exercise, you can increase the size of the left ventricle of your heart as well as blood pressure. In turn, it increases the risk of heart attacks
- Aggressive behavior: several studies show that steroids are associated with increased aggression in male teenagers and adults
- Liver damage: AAS substances, especially the ones taken orally, are known to increase the risk of liver dysfunction
- Gynecomastia disease: this is a condition that causes swollen male breast tissue. Gynecomastia normally occurs when a person stops taking steroids
- Decreased natural production of testosterone
- Development of infertility: steroids can cause infertility due to their potential to decrease sperm production
- Male pattern baldness: doctors emphasize on the fact that AAS substances might worsen male pattern baldness. However, this effect depends on the specific drug used
All the aforementioned side effects can occur both in women and men. However, women should also be aware of the additional side effects of AAS substances, including:
- Abnormal hair growth and facial changes
- Enlarged clitoris
- Deepening voice
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Infertility and decreased breast size
Danger of using AAS substances
As was mentioned above, steroids come with a lot of risks making them potentially dangerous for the majority of people. Although, there are several methods that can minimize these risks. But you need to be aware that it is impossible to fully eliminate them.
Apart from all the aforementioned risks associated with steroids, they can also affect several lab values, which makes frequent blood work important to avoid major complications. Steroids can increase hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, which will thicken your blood and increase the likelihood of stroke and heart attack. Steroids are also known for increasing LDL cholesterol levels and decreasing HDL cholesterol levels, contributing to the increased risk of heart disease.
People who regularly make use of AAS substances are running an increased chances of getting an infection. The reason for that is illegal production of the majority of steroids that do not follow the same procedures as commercial laboratories. In addition to that, there is an increased risk of infection and contamination if you take steroids through injections.
If used for non-therapeutic purposes, steroids are illegal in most places. When it comes to anabolic steroids, they are classified as a schedule three drug in the United States. A person can carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison for illegal possession of AAS substances.
If your healthcare provider or weight management specialist did not prescribe steroids, there is no legal way you can obtain them. They are only legal if used for certain health conditions such as a muscle-wasting disease or low testosterone.
If you choose to use steroids, you should be aware that you do not only put yourself at risk of legal consequences. Inadequate dosage of steroids can lead to serious health problems. There are numerous cases where people died because of improper use of steroids or its abnormal dosage.
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