Side effects of steroids, a short list with possible solutions
The use of every possible steroid (not just the androgenic-anabolic ones) comes with the risk of side effects. The risks and their severity are closely related to the doses we use, however, there is no way to completely eliminate both the mild and potentially dangerous risks associated with the use of anabolic steroids. Some of the common side effects you may experience are:
Due to the rapid increase in muscle mass, and the rise in oestrogen levels, excessive water retention occurs in the body. To a certain extent, this is a desirable effect, although if maintained long enough and in sufficient excess, it will cause discomfort, particularly for people with a sensitive cardiovascular system. Water retention is responsible for so-called back-pumps (the effect of a pumped-up back), which are often mistaken by beginners for back pain (however, please do not be put off by this and every time you suspect any injury, refer to a medical specialist to verify the actual source of the pain).
Acne and oily skin
If you were prone to acne before starting steroids, you are more likely to experience this as a side effect in addition to acne-related conditions such as oily skin, and noticeably oilier hair. Acne can become severe in some people. The sebaceous glands of the skin are more prone to infection and inflammation due to the effects of steroids on them.
Mood swings, irritability and anger
Intensive use of anabolic steroids is known to increase the risk of negative emotional and behavioural changes, such as aggressiveness and mood swings. This can in some cases translate negatively into personal relationships, emotionality and virtually all other aspects of social life.
Difficulties with sleep
Studies have shown that many users of anabolic-androgenic steroids report experiencing sleep disturbances, and one sleep study found that steroid users tend to have reduced sleep efficiency and changes in normal sleep patterns.
The use of androgen steroids can cause male pattern baldness in people who have a genetic tendency to lose their hair-if the male line in your family is characterised by a ‘receding’ hairline-even if it is not total baldness-you are at higher risk of developing androgenetic alopecia.
Colloquially known as “gino” (you will encounter this term more than once), it is a proliferation of the mammary gland in men. A method of reducing or eliminating the risk of gynaecomastia during steroid use is the use of aromatase inhibitors and prolactin inhibitors. Once gynaecomastia is allowed to develop, the effects cannot be reversed apart from surgery, so it is very important to get rid of any signs of breast enlargement as soon as you notice it. Sensitivity and itching are the first noticeable signs.
No one looks favourably on the fact of having shrunken testicles, but with some anabolic steroids there is a serious risk of side effects due to the huge increase in synthetic testosterone, which means the body doesn’t need to produce testosterone naturally – through the testicles, so they start to shrink. However, it is not only the size that shrinks, but also the sperm count, causing a reduction in fertility. This is one of the most severe side effects of steroid use.
The most serious side effects to which advanced and long-term steroid users are exposed can include liver damage, kidney cancer, neuropathies, coronary and vascular disease.
|Side effects include:
|Severity of side effects/probability
|Swelling, hair loss, gynaecomastia
|Hair loss, oedema, gynaecomastia, liver
|Oily skin, acne, hair loss
|Insomnia, headache, nausea
If you are a man in your late teens and early twenties who is still physically developing, you have a higher risk of negative side effects such as acne and scarring, stunted growth, stretch marks and skin ageing.
Discontinuing a steroid cycle or stopping steroids altogether can cause depression, fatigue, weight loss and loss of strength, while your body takes several months to restore testosterone levels back to where they should be.