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To increase muscle strength and power beyond the natural limit, some people turn to substances like anabolic-androgenic steroids AAS. Anabolic refers to growth promotion, whereas androgenic refers to the development of male sex characteristics. This article reviews anabolic-androgenic steroids, including their uses, side effects, dangers, and legal status.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids AAS are a synthetic form of testosterone, which is the primary male sex hormone 1. They affect various parts of your body, such as your muscles, hair follicles, bones, liver, kidneysand reproductive and nervous systems.
In men, its levels increase during puberty to promote the development of male sex traits, such as body hair growth, a deeper voice, sex drive, and increased height and muscle mass. Though traditionally thought of as a male hormone, women also produce testosterone but in much smaller amounts. It serves several functions for women, primarily promoting bone density and a healthy libido 2.
Taking steroids raises levels of this hormone, which causes effects such as increased muscle mass and strength 34. Steroids are a synthetic form of testosterone, a sex hormone naturally produced by men and women alike. Taking steroids increases testosterone levels, causing effects like increased muscle mass and strength. When you think of steroids, the first thing that may come to mind is their use in bodybuilding to promote muscle gain.
While this is a common application, AAS are used for several other purposes. The main potential benefits associated with anabolic steroids are the following 1 :. In the world of sports, athletes are constantly looking for ways to get an edge over the competition. While advanced strength and conditioning exercises, as well as nutrition, go a long way in this regard, some athletes take it a step further by taking performance-enhancing drugs PEDs.
They have been shown to increase muscle masswhich le to increased speed and power output 5. In competitive sports, steroid dosing tends to be fairly conservative to avoid detection. Though most sporting federations ban AAS, some athletes feel the risk of getting caught is worth the benefits. When it comes to strength sports, including bodybuildingpowerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting, anabolic steroids are widely used to increase muscle mass, strength, and power output 5.
While the goal of bodybuilding is maximum muscle mass in a given category, strength and muscle size are closely related, though other factors are at play as well 8. While more potent effects may be seen at higher doses, the risk of side effects increases as well. Some athletes also include other synthetic hormones, such as growth hormone and insulin. While not as common, AAS can be used in these populations to help preserve muscle mass 9 Loss of muscle mass has been closely linked to mortality in these diseases and preventing it can improve therapeutic outcomes and extend lifespan 111213 While AAS use is not the only method to preserve muscle mass, it may benefit these populations.
Still, potential side effects must be taken into consideration. Common uses for steroids include improving performance in athletics, increasing muscle mass in strength athletes, and preserving muscle mass in those with muscle-wasting diseases. Despite their potential benefits, AAS have several possible side Side effects of taking anabolic steroids, whose severity varies depending on the extent to which you use these substances.
Individual genetics also affect how you respond to AAS The anabolic-to-androgenic ratio varies between different types of AAS, which may affect adverse reactions as well. Anabolic refers to muscle growth properties, whereas androgenic refers to the promotion of male sex traits While the above side effects can occur in men and women alike, women should be aware of additional ones, including 2526 :.
Steroid use is associated with several adverse effects, such as an increased risk of heart disease and liver toxicity. Additional side effects are seen in women who use AAS. AAS use comes with several risks, making them potentially dangerous for most people. While certain methods can minimize some of these risks, they cannot be fully avoided.
AAS use can affect several lab values, making frequent blood work important to avoid major complications. Steroid use can affect the following lab values 2728 :. When taking AAS, the risk of infection can be fairly high. When procuring AAS on the black market, there is a chance of mislabeled or counterfeit substances, further increasing your risk of infection. The only way to obtain and use AAS legally would be to have them prescribed by a medical professional for a certain condition, such as low testosterone or a muscle-wasting disease. Though AAS are not classified as physically addictive, continued use may be associated with mental addiction that can lead to dependence A common psychological side effect of AAS use is muscle dysmorphia, in which users become preoccupied with having a muscular physique Steroid use is dangerous for several reasons, including the high risk of infection, their illegal status in most places, and potential for mental addiction.
Frequent blood work is essential to monitor potential negative health effects. While lower, well-calculated doses of AAS can be ificantly safer than uncontrolled doses associated with abuse, no studies have compared the safety of different steroid doses. Synthetic testosterone is also used to treat individuals with low testosterone, which is referred to as testosterone replacement therapy TRT.
TRT is generally safe for men with low testosterone levels when administered by a medical professional. Data to determine the safety of TRT for women is insufficient The higher doses commonly used in competitive athletics and strength sports are linked to an increased risk of side effects and cannot be deemed safe 1.
People respond differently to AAS due to variations in genetic makeup. While lower, controlled doses associated with testosterone replacement therapy are generally accepted as safe for men with low testosterone, taking steroids in any amount can Side effects of taking anabolic steroids health risks. More serious side effects are seen with higher doses. While AAS are the most commonly talked-about type of steroid, there is another variety called glucocorticoids or corticosteroids.
These are naturally occurring hormones produced in the adrenal glands located on top of your kidneys They serve as a feedback mechanism in your immune system, which regulates inflammation. Synthetic versions are often used to treat certain conditions caused by an overactive immune system, including:. While they work well to regulate certain illnesses, they can cause several side effects, such as elevated blood sugar levels and weight gain. Corticosteroids are another type of steroid naturally produced in your body to help regulate inflammatory immune processes.
Synthetic forms are used to reduce inflammation in many autoimmune diseases. Anabolic-androgenic steroids AAS are a synthetic form of testosterone used to increase muscle mass and strength. While their health risks vary by the type and amount taken, they can be dangerous and cause side effects at any dose.
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You may have heard that certain drugs, like prednisone, have some unwelcome side effects. But do steroids make you gain weight? And if so, what can…. Uses, Side Effects, and Dangers. Share on Pinterest. What are steroids? Main uses and Side effects of taking anabolic steroids benefits. Possible side effects. Can be dangerous. Is there a safe dosage? Other types of steroids. The bottom line. Read this next. The 6 Best Supplements to Gain Muscle. Inhaled Steroids: What to Know. Medically reviewed by Lindsay Slowiczek, Pharm.
Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm. Treating Steroid Acne.Side effects of taking anabolic steroids
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