What are the Side Effects of Steroids?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2018
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Steroids are drugs. It is commonly understood that along with consuming drugs comes the possibility of certain risks. Steroids are not an exception to this rule. Although the likelihood of experiencing them varies, there are side effects of steroids including cardiovascular disease and psychological changes.

Heart attacks and strokes are possible cardiovascular problems that can be caused by steroid use. By affecting the levels of low-density and high-density lipoproteins, which interact with cholesterol, steroids can cause fatty accumulation in the arteries. This condition is known as arthrosclerosis. This condition can prevent proper blood flow to essential organs such as the heart and brain.

Extensive use of steroids can have negative effects on the brain similar to those caused by illicit drugs. These include affecting dopamine and serotonin levels, which are chemicals in the brain. This can lead to psychological changes such as depression, aggression, and mood swings. For some individuals, these side effects of steroids occur while taking the drug.

For others, the psychological changes may only begin to appear when a person attempts to stop taking the drugs. In these cases, what the person is likely experiencing are withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is also one of the possible effects of steroids.


Steroids cause abnormal fluctuations of a person’s hormonal balance. Due to this, the effects of steroids often involve changes to femininity and masculinity that may make it appear as though one sex is converting into the other. It is widely believed that females are more likely to experience side effects of steroids than men. One reason for this may be that taking steroids often involves introducing hormones into the female body that are already prevalent in males.

Thinning of the hair, which can result in premature balding, is one of the side effects of steroids that men may experience. A man’s masculine appearance may be diminished by the development of breasts and the shrinking of his testicles. It is also possible for a man’s sperm count to decrease and for him to become infertile as a result of his steroid consumption.

The effects of steroids can result in a woman seeming more masculine. She may begin to develop facial hair. Her clitoris can become enlarged. Menstrual cycles may become sporadic or cease for extended periods. Both sexes can experience a decrease in sexual desire.

If a person who experiences the side effects of steroids stops taking the drugs, some associated conditions may disappear. For example, acne that is caused by the drugs may clear up. Some effects, however, can linger permanently, such as the deepening of a woman’s voice.


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