Anabolic androgenic steroids are commonly used drugs to improve muscle strength and mass, as well as athletic performance. Most people who use anabolic steroids, — Are non-professional athletes, and many of them are teenagers. This phenomenon is common among regular amateur athletes, including those who go to the gym «for themselves».
When using steroids, people try to maximize the anabolic effect (the effect of building muscle mass) and minimize the androgenic effect, which is responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics. The ratio of anabolic to androgenic effects of testosterone is 1:1. For other anabolic steroids used, this ratio varies and may even exceed 30. Steroids can be modified in different ways to achieve certain effects, and not all drugs are aimed at gaining bulky muscle mass.
The androgenic side effects of the drug depend on the dosage and duration of use. Other hormones are usually used to maximize the desired effects and prevent side effects. Androgenic-estrogenic equilibrium in tissues is inconstant, and so side effects are tried to prevent with other drugs. Websites that sell anabolic steroids usually offer kits that include medications to treat the side effects of these steroids in addition to androgenic steroids. These drugs, for their part, also have some negative effects on health.
Anabolic androgenic steroids also significantly affect the activity of the sex glands, shutting down the production of androgens and sperm in the testicles. These effects appear differently in different people and cannot be predicted.
Testicular function and its disorders
The function of the testes is to produce sperm and sex hormones, mainly testosterone. Normal testosterone production ensures the development of male sexual characteristics, and helps maintain high testosterone levels in the testes (testosterone concentrations in the testes are several dozen times higher than in the blood), which is essential for normal sperm production.
Testicular function is controlled by the pituitary gland. Anabolic androgenic steroids, which are administered externally, disrupt the normal functioning of the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland is underregulated, the testes’ own testosterone production decreases, leading to a decrease in sperm production, up to the complete cessation of. Anabolic steroids cause a dose-dependent disruption of the pituitary-testicular axis by inhibiting the secretion of testicular gonadotropins produced in the pituitary gland, which stimulate testosterone production. This leads to a decrease in your own testosterone production, a decrease in testicular size, and impaired sperm production. This can lead to infertility. Externally administered testosterone is unable to produce high testosterone levels in the testes and actually decreases them because the levels of gonadotropins secreted by the pituitary gland, which stimulate testicular function, are decreased.
Physicians who treat infertility are very familiar with the effects of anabolic androgenic steroids on sperm production. According to some studies, about one in four people who use anabolic steroids have no sperm production; about one in two have lower than normal sperm production; only a quarter of people who use anabolic steroids have normal sperm production. Anabolic steroids also affect sperm structure. Especially during adolescence, anabolic steroids can cause irreparable damage to sperm production.
Effects of anabolic steroids (androgens) on sex drive
Sex drive (or libido) is mainly controlled by testosterone. Anabolic steroids can increase libido. Increased libido can be a problem, as using androgens in high doses can also increase the likelihood of violent behavior.
Common Problem — This is a situation that occurs after steroid use, when the body stops producing testosterone for a long time. This is familiar to anyone who uses steroids. In this case, the concentration of testosterone in the bloodstream is insufficient to maintain a normal libido, so such hormonal disturbances can lead to a loss of libido. In addition, testosterone deficiency is associated with many other symptoms and health hazards.
A very pronounced decrease in testosterone concentrations can also lead to erectile dysfunction and mental disorders. For example, a significant deterioration in a weightlifter’s performance may be accompanied by an increased risk of a new androgenic cycle.
Other side effects of anabolic steroids
Other extensive side effects of doping with anabolic steroids have recently been identified, at least indirectly affecting reproductive health as well. Some have experienced psychiatric symptoms and severe mood disorders: hyperactivity, irritability, aggressiveness, hyperexcitability, concentration disorders, reckless behavior, and other symptoms of a psychotic nature. Suicidal thoughts and actions have also been reported. These symptoms occurred in only a few individuals, and there is no definitive data on what their mental state was like before they started using anabolic steroids. There is strong evidence of negative effects on the heart: those who have used anabolic steroids have been diagnosed with heart muscle pathology associated with impaired cardiac function. Some pathological changes in the heart may be reversible if the person stops taking steroids. However, if the use of anabolic steroids has resulted in the destruction of heart muscle cells, the changes are irreversible. Abnormal changes in the liver may be fatal or require a liver transplant.
Study effects and therapy
People who use anabolic steroids are somewhat aware of the problems that occur, but, for example, do not mention at the doctor’s office that they use steroids. Thus, side effects from steroid use may go unnoticed, and treatment may not be optimal. On the other hand, general practitioners may have rather superficial knowledge of the effects of steroids on the body.
Medical examination may reveal signs of long-term androgen use such as acne, skin stretch marks, enlarged breasts, and possible injection marks. Lab tests may show high hemoglobin and low HDL cholesterol. н. Good cholesterol), as well as abnormal liver function. As a result of prolonged use of androgens, a significant decrease in testicular size may be noted.
The effects of anabolic androgenic steroids on reproductive function depend largely on the drugs used, the doses and timing of use. According to hormonal studies reflecting testicular function, typical abnormalities may be observed. According to seminal fluid studies, a significant proportion of steroid users may have a complete absence of sperm. It should also be remembered that the use of anabolic steroids does not exclude
other causes of male infertility. It was previously thought that changes caused by the use of anabolic androgenic steroids were reversible. However, this is obviously not the case with respect to some side effects. Severe side effects, such as effects on the heart and liver, can lead to chronic consequences, such as heart failure, sudden death, and with respect to the liver — to its transplantation due to serious impairment of hepatic activity. Testosterone: it can take a long time to restore normal sperm production, and even patient waiting does not always pay off. Not everyone regains these functions. As a rule, the most effective effective method is simple: to stop using anabolic androgenic steroids completely. Therapy will be successful provided that the man understands the connection between androgen use and the development of abnormalities, and realizes that recovery will take time.
Maintaining physiological concentrations of testosterone (t. е. Testosterone replacement therapy) may be required during the recovery phase if severe and prolonged hypo-function is observed. However, the risk of abuse is not excluded. Substitution therapy must be confidential. It must be kept in mind that physiological replacement therapy slows down the recovery of sperm production. Therefore, during treatment, one has to balance the subjectively unpleasant symptoms of testosterone deficiency with the positive effects on future health.