Acne is a condition generally associated with teenagers and adolescents. It affects more than 80% of the adolescent population and frequently continues into adulthood. In most cases, acne diminishes over time and can be non existent moving in to adulthood.
There are many causes of acne. Generally in the young it is thought to be due to the growth and development of the sebaceous gland causing excess secretion of sebum. Sebum acts to protect and waterproof the skin and hair, but the level of secretion is increased during adolescents due to increased androgens and testosterone.
Acne is a very common condition as a result of steroid use. Anabolic steroids increase the amount of androgens and testosterone in the human body. This stimulates the sebaceous gland causing the secretion of sebum. This sebum causes bacteria to form and results in pimples and spots on the skin.
Typically, the sports spread from the facial region to the shoulders, neck and back, but can cover the entire body in worst case scenarios.
Acne, although not likely to kill, is a very unwanted condition and many affects patients confidence and self esteem. A body full of pimples is not hugely attractive and so depression is likely in sufferers of the condition.
The type of steroids being used will have a direct impact on this side effect and the severity of the acne. Highly androgenic steroids which have the ability to convert to DHT are the most notable in terms of bringing this side effect about. Testosterone derived steroids convert to DHT so it may benefit sensitive individuals to stick with nandrolone based steroids, where DHT would not cause a concern.
Aggressive behaviour is a tell tale sign of steroid use in men, and even women. Men are typically more aggressive than women and research has shown that this is a result of the difference in hormones between the two sexes. Testosterone, especially androgens, give rise to aggressive behaviour and temper rages. This is seen more in men than women as a result of testosterone.
Anabolic steroids will increase the amount of testosterone in the body, and so increases in aggressive behaving can be a result. Some steroid users look at this as a positive, allowing a more focused session when channelling the anger into lifting weights.
On the other hand, problems only arise when temper and aggression can not be kept under control, and even the slightest upset can cause a violent rage in the user, commonly referred to as “roid rage.” If anger and rage becomes an issue and users find themselves agitated at the slightest of upsets, then the steroids should be discontinued.
A serious side effect that should not be overlooked or neglected is with frequent headaches in steroid users. Athletes have reported an increase in the frequency of headaches whilst using anabolic/androgenic steroids.
Headaches can be caused by a number of things, stress and dehydration being the most common. When headaches are experienced is steroid cycles, it is most common during heavier bulking cycles, when an individual is utilising strongly estrogenic compounds.
These headaches can simply be put down to an increase in stress on the scalp and neck muscles due to the intense weight training, which can be remedied by a short break from training and some good general rest.
The problem being, that some headaches will be caused by a much more serious problem. Blood pressure has a tendency to increase during heavier cycles and these headaches can be a result of high blood pressure, hypertension. Simply taking an asprin for immediate relief is not a sensible course of action to take.
If the headaches are a result of steroid use, then this is generally a good time to end the cycle as much more serious and life threatening episodes can occur. Medications such as Catapres can be used to lower blood pressure but generally, high blood pressure is an indication to discontinue steroid use.
It has been advised to have regular check ups with a physician to monitor blood pressure levels whilst using steroids.
One side effects which has only recently been noticed is the amount of steroid users complaining of nosebleeds whilst on cycle. One study reported that approximately 20% of all steroid users reported this side effect, making it a pretty common problem.
Nosebleeds, when occurring frequently, can be a worrying part of life for most people. The nosebleeds can be attributed to the use of anabolic steroids, but this is an indirect result for an increase in blood pressure and/or reductions in blood clotting factors.
This rise in blood pressure is more severe when highly estrogenic steroids are used, such as Dianabol and testosterone. These steroids have the biggest impact on blood pressure levels, but it can not be ruled out with a purely anabolic agent also.
The nosebleeds may seem to be very out of the ordinary, but once the steroid has been discontinued, blood pressure generally normalises and nosebleeds discontinue.
The use of anabolic steroids has been shown to produce changes in the body that may impact on an individuals immune system. These changes can good as well as bad.
During steroid treatment, many athletes report that thy are less susceptible to viral illnesses. New studies have shown that in HIV+ patients, steroidal treatment supports those athletes reports clearly showing that these drugs have a beneficial effect on the immune system. This has, in recent years, made doctors less reluctant to prescribe these drugs to their patients.
On the flip side, there seems to be a rebound effect once the steroid course has finished. Once steroids have been discontinued, users find that they are more susceptible to viral infections like colds and flu. This is may be due to the production of cortisol, a catabolic hormone in the body which may act to suppress immune system functioning.
It is also possible for users to become ‘run down’ and more susceptible to illness due to an increase in cortisol whilst administering a steroid course. This may not be a problem in general terms, unless high doses of the steroid are used. So although not of grave concern, this effect could open up the body to a host of viruses and illnesses which wouldn’t normally be a cause for concern.
Hair Loss/ Alopecia
Hair loss has been a big problem for men for a long time now, losing hair and hair thinning is something that men have accepted as a hereditary condition. Although this may be true to some extent, there are other factors that can attribute to this condition.
The use of anabolic/androgenic steroids has been shown to increase hair loss and thinning in some males whilst on cycle. Starting with a receding hair line, followed by thinning of the crown, this type of hair loss, typically in men, is classed as androgenic alopecia, AGA.
Androgenic alopecia is brought about by the action of androgens in the scalp, and genetic factors inherited from our parents. There is a high concentration of androgen receptors in the scalp and so the actions of androgens are increased and male pattern baldness is accelerated with the use of steroidal hormones.
It has been believed that only steroids which either convert to or are derived from dihydrotestosterone have effects on male baldness, but it has recently been proven that all steroids, even the highly anabolic agents, will interfere with hair loss to some extent.
Some steroid users concerned with hair loss choose to include the likes of finasteride in their cycle which is an option that can help to combat the conversion of DHT.
Many anabolic steroids have the potential to impact an individuals stature if taken during adolescence. This is the main reason that teenagers are warned off using anabolic steroids until the body has fully matured.
Steroids have the potential to stunt growth by stimulating the epiphyseal plates in a person’s long bones to prematurely fuse. Once these plates have fused, future linear growth is not possible. This kind of damage is irreversible and the individual can be stuck at the same height forever.
It is thought that this irreversible damage is brought on, not by the steroid itself, but by the build up of estrogen caused by steroid use. Women are shorter than men on average because of this effect of estrogen, and so the increase in estrogen due to steroid use seems to be the underlying cause.
It is also for this reason that steroid with a high conversion to estrogen can prematurely stunt growth. Some steroids can actually increase linear growth as there is no conversion to estrogen and the anabolic activity brought on by the steroid can promote the retention of calcium in the bones.
It is therefore common sense to avoid steroid use during adolescence until full maturity has been reached.
The human body has always functioned best during a state called homeostasis, which basically means being in a balanced hormonal state. This state of hormonal equilibrium exists in most humans and can be put out of sync by the use of external, synthetic hormones, as used in steroid cycles.
During the cycle, there is an hormonal imbalance due to the surplus synthetic hormone from an outside source. This external hormone is beyond the normal level of testosterone and so the body compensates by stopping its own endogenous production in the testes.
A string of chemical processes provide feedback throughout the body informing the testes to cease production in order to compensate the vast amounts of synthetic hormones obtained via the steroids.
This halt in natural testosterone production puts the testes into a state of production limbo, and the actual size of the testes is likely to shrink. This may cause concern to the steroid user as the testicles may seem massively undersized and frighteningly small.
Most steroid users find marble sized testicles quite troubling and so avoiding stronger aromatizing compounds like Dianabol and Anadrol 50. These steroids are stronger, more estrogenic and androgenic is this regard so avoiding steroids for sale like these may preserve testicle size to a higher degree.
Lets not forget that any anabolic steroid, when taken in doses to promote muscular gains, will suppress endogenous testosterone production and this lack of production will cause physical shrinking of the testes.
The post cycle crash following steroid use is one aspect of anabolic steroids which needs to be addressed quickly for the gains made from the cycle to remain. The longer time spent without normal levels of testosterone, the more chance of losing gains. So we need to understand how best to return levels of natural testosterone to normal.
In the past, it has always been thought that the lack of Luteinising hormone being released from the pituitary gland was the main reason behind the slow rate of recovery of testosterone production. This would seem to make sense as the testes are stimulated by LH into testosterone production.
By 1975, this theory had been proved wrong and a study published that very year made it clear that a lack of LH was not the cause for the slow rate of recovery of the HPTA.
This study showed that after a course of anabolic steroids, LH levels went quickly on the rise. By the third week, LH levels were raised to such a level that it was clearly not the case for the slow production of testosterone. This study showed that LH levels were on the rise quickly following the withdrawal of steroids but testosterone production took nearly 13 weeks to make a noticeable increase.
So the problem with restoring testosterone production does not fall with the levels of LH being excreted by the pituitary, but more so testicular atrophy or desensitisation. As the testes take a temporary break from testosterone production during the steroid course, they can shrink or atrophy from inactivity. This loss in size makes them unable to perform the required workload.
The testes will, in due course, return to their normal state and size, but not before the lack of testosterone in the body causes a loss in muscle mass and definition.
Without sufficient levels of testosterone, the gains made from the anabolic steroids can be lost so it is vital to understand how testosterone is produced in the first place.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the primary male hormone, testosterone. Testosterone plays an important part in the male body and virilisation refers to the biological development of sex differences, which make a male body different from the female body.
When a boy reaches puberty, virilisation takes place and testosterone is used to change a boys body into a man. Such changes brought on by puberty include growth of the penis and testes, accelerated growth, development of pubic hair, facial and body hair, deepening of the voice thickening of the jaw and broadening of the shoulders.
When women subject themselves to anabolic steroids, the effects of increased testosterone can produce a number of undesirable changes. Virilisation can occur resulting in the development of masculine characteristics altering the female body.
Symptoms include a deepening of the voice, changes in skin texture, acne, menstrual irregularities, increased libido, hair loss, facial and body hair growth, and an enlargement of the clitoris. In extreme cases, the female genitalia can become very disfigured, and may take on a penis-like appearance.
These changes that can take place when anabolic steroids are taken by women are similar to the changes experienced by all men during puberty. The worry for women taking such steroids is that these changes are mostly irreversible.
Women are therefore warned away from using steroids, and generally, mild anabolics such as Winstrol and Anavar are generally preferred to the stronger steroids like Dianabol and M1T. Also cycles should be kept short and dosage kept low to minimise effects.
Many anabolic steroids can increase the amount of water and sodium stored in body tissues. This is often the cause of the initial and fairly immediate weight gains during steroid cycles. The excess water retention often causes a very bloated appearance in the user, mainly affecting hands, arms and face.
This side effect of steroid use is sometimes regarded as a positive as opposed to a negative. This is due to a few reason related to performance as opposed to appearance.
The increased water stored in muscles, joints and connective tissues will help to improve overall strength, which is ideal for bulking phases where bloating isn’t a problem. Secondly, is acts as a protective cushion preventing muscles and connective tissues from injury during intense exercise.
On the other side, the water retention will reduce the visibility of muscle features causing a loss of definition. This makes steroids, with strong tendencies to store water and salt, not such an ideal compound for pre-competition phases where ripped, lean muscle is required.
Water retention is more specifically associated with the presence of estrogen in the body. With women retaining more water than men, the use of strong anabolics like Dianabol will result in a higher rate of aromatisation and thus an increase in water storage.
It has been proven that anabolic steroids like Dianabol, which come in a pill form, can cause massive damage to the liver.
The liver is responsible for cleaning out toxins from body and is the largest organ in the human body. Without the liver, it is not possible to survive longer than 24 hours.
The problem with oral anabolic steroids is that there is an increase strain on the liver as the steroid has to pass through in order to enter the blood stream. Liver cells are damaged as the steroid passes through to become effective in the blood circulation.
With a typical steroid user, toxicity levels in the liver can be twice that of a non user leading to possible hepatotoxicity, or more specifically, peliosis hepatitis.
Some oral steroids are particularly harmful to the liver, and throughout most clinical studies, it is the powerful androgen Anadrol 50 which has the most impact on liver values.
Injectable steroids are less strenuous on the liver, however, the injection itself can cause certain bacteria to enter the blood stream and subsequently can lead to hepatitis.
Reverse- Sex Changes
Amongst the whole host of side effects that are caused as a result of steroid use, reverse sex change is something that can occur in both male and female users. In male users, female characteristics start developing, and in female users, male characteristics develop.
We all know that anabolic steroids have a androgenic effects which result in increased male sexual characteristics. This would come as no surprise then that women taking anabolic steroids experience changes such as voice deepening, enlargement of the clitoris, acne, baldness and changes in skin texture.
For men the problems can appear just as severe.
You may not think that increasing levels of testosterone synthetically can result in reverse sex changes for men, but it can. Testosterone is converted to estrogen (female hormone) when found in excess(as in steroid use) throughout the body.
Estrogen is found naturally, only in small doses. In men. However, when steroids are used for periods of time, estrogen levels can rise and even become the dominant hormone within the body. Such a rise in estrogen results in a condition called Gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia is the development of female breasts in men aka “Moobs“(man + boobs). This sort of development isn’t life threatening but can cause depression and have a large negative impact on self esteem, as well as the obvious appearance altering effect.
On the sexual note of side effects from steroids, there is also the risk of infertility as a result of anabolic steroid use. Inactivity of the tests as a result of synthetic hormones can render the testes useless and unproductive in the sperm manufacturing.
These side effects are only common in Anabolic steroids, Legal steroids have no such effect as there in no manipulation of the testosterone. With no manipulation of the testosterone, estrogen levels in men are not affected at all.
Cardiovascular disease and the impact anabolic steroids have on cholesterol levels are often side effects which are neglected by steroids users. Generally, most steroid users worry about the most obvious side effects such as acne, liver damage and water retention, and pay little attention to the damage the steroids are causing by impacting upon cholesterol levels.
The effects that anabolic steroids can have on cholesterol levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is generally only the case after prolonged periods of use, but the end results can be life threatening.
Anabolic/androgenic steroids have a tendency to increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol. As you may be aware, HDL cholesterol is considered the ‘good’ cholesterol as it acts to remove cholesterol deposits, and LDL cholesterol is looked at as the ‘bad’ guy as it has the opposite effect, aids in the build up of cholesterol on the artery walls.
The general pattern with anabolic steroids, more so with 17alpha alkylated compounds, is that cholesterol values shift to the negative, with an increase in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL cholesterol. Also, the ratio between the two can be balanced out, but if the scales tip in the favour of LDL for prolonged periods of time, cardiovascular risks can arise.
Minimising your intake of fatty foods whilst on steroids can help to fight against this rise in bad cholesterol, but bear in mind that risks are put on the heart and the cardiovascular system with long term steroid usage.
Anaphylactic shock is an allergic reaction to the presence of a foreign protein in the body. It is most commonly caused by foods such as nuts, fruit and shellfish. Some symptoms of this reaction include wheezing, swelling, rashes or hives, dizziness, unconsciousness and possibly death. It is not often caused by anabolic/androgenic steroids, but can be induced by counterfeit pharmaceutical products as toxins may find their way into some injectable compounds. This is a growing problem due to the lack of quality control for black market products, and the amount of counterfeit pharmaceuticals on the market.