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What Are Steroids Side Effects?

Steroids may be used to help build muscle.
Anabolic steroids.
Steroid use can lead to increased sexual function; however, it also causes testicle shrinking and low sperm count.
Men who use steroids sometimes suffer from an enlarged prostate.
A man with baldness from steroid usage.
Steroid use can lead to high blood pressure.
Article Details
  • Written By: J.L. Drede
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There is some debate over the specifics of steroids side effects, namely which ones are caused by the drug's use and which aren't. While there is some dispute, most scientists and medical professionals agree that the risks of abusing steroids include severe side-effects that in some cases can be life-threatening.

Steroids are synthetic compounds made to emulate the male sex hormone testosterone. When used, these synthetic hormones increase endurance and help to promote rapid growth of muscle mass. However, steroids side effects come with these benefits. The human body is designed to have a certain amount of hormones in it, when the synthetic hormones are added the body doesn't know how to respond, creating the side effects.

Steroids side effects are different for men and women, but there is some overlap. For both sexes the abuse of any anabolic steroid can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and liver damage. Steroids can also change how a person behaves. Increased aggression from steroid abuse, sometimes referred to as "roid rage" can happen to both men and women who abuse the drug. Some studies have also suggested that long-term abuse of steroids can lead to bipolar behavior, irritability and depression.

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There are also cosmetic side effects of steroid abuse that affect both genders. Many who abuse the drug discover acne breakouts on their back and arms and will sometimes even develop jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, from liver damage. Most medical professionals agree that these side effects, while dangerous, are short-term and will stop once the person stops using the drug. In men steroids can also lead to premature balding if they carry the gene for male pattern baldness.

More serious steroids side effects are related to the gender of the person who uses them. Men who abuse the drug usually suffer from shrunken testicles and decreased fertility. In some cases, the prostate will also become enlarged, and some suggest that repeated abuse of steroids can even lead to prostate cancer. Another side effect of steroids specific to men is the development of breasts. This condition, called gynecomasta, is caused from the body trying to balance out the unnatural amounts of testosterone with estrogen, the female sex hormone. While most of the side effects of steroids for men are temporary, this can be permanent.

The side effects of steroids in women can be much more pronounced. The rapid increase of male sex hormones in a woman's body can lead to virilization, the development of male sex characteristics. Women who abuse steroids may develop excessive body hair and in some cases will even grow facial hair. The voices of women who use steroids will often become deeper over time, resembling that of a man's voice. Many times the woman's breasts will shrink, and her clitoris will become abnormally large. The increased male hormone level in the woman's body will also lead to an irregular menstrual cycle. Many of these side effects, including the lower voice and enlarged clitoris, are usually permanent.

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