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Testosterone steroid side effects can be numerous, severe, and detrimental to a person’s health and quality of life.
Bodybuilders will often turn to anabolic steroids as a method of increasing their muscle growth.
This is due to some short term positive effects it has on the body’s testosterone production.
However, the many debilitating side effects of steroid use make it an unappealing method of gaining muscle mass.
Testosterone Steroid Side Effects
The side effects of testosterone in bodybuilding are numerous.
Adverse reactions are associated with abuse for the purpose of performance and physique enhancement.
Side effects are possible with medical treatments incorporating testosterone, though the risk is far less since the dosages in therapeutic applications are so much smaller than those used by performance users.
The high dosages cycled in the context of fitness and bodybuilding are significantly higher than medical recommendations, and this poses danger to the user.
Some effects occur in the short term, usually becoming noticeable in the process of taking them. Other anabolic steroids side effects are long term, and can affect steroid users for the rest of their lives.
The side effects listed below are focused on men, since they are the most common abusers of steroids.
Testosterone steroid side effects for women are listed further below.
Short Term Effects of Anabolic Steroids Like Testosterone
High blood pressure and cholesterol
Acne or oily skin
Long Term Effects
Low sperm count
Gynecomastia (growing breast tissue)
All anabolic steroids can have the side effect of endogenous testosterone production shutdown.
This can lead to long-term or complete suppression and shutdown of natural testosterone in the body.
The Hypothalamic Pituitary Testicular Axis (HPTA) of the endocrine system moderates levels of endogenous testosterone in the body.
When exogenous androgens are introduced to the body at the level of performance dosages of testosterone, the HPTA’s negative feedback loop senses that the body has enough testosterone and slows down or ceases the manufacture of natural testosterone.
This can become worse over a duration of time from continued use resulting in Leydig cell desensitization.
Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) is a common practice following a steroid cycle. A bodybuilder’s PCT program will often includes a testosterone-stimulating ancillary compound such as Nolvadex and possibly an aromatase inhibitor such as Aromasin.
HCG can also be used for the recovery of endogenous testosterone production. Most PCT programs run between 4 and 6 weeks.
Even with PCT, permanent damage to the HPTA is possible, causing the user to produce deficient levels of testosterone for the rest of their life.
The medical treatment of Testosterone Replacement Therapy or TRT may be required in this circumstance.
Androgenic Side Effects
Testosterone is the most basic androgen endogenously generated in the body.
Testosterone has a strong androgenic effect and exhibits a rating of 100. This can provide a modest level of androgenic activity through binding to androgen receptors in the body.
Testosterone side effects are largely attributed to way in which testosterone is turned into an androgenic metabolite that is a great deal more potent. This metabolite is known as Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and the conversion takes place through the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme (5AR).
DHT is held to be responsible for the more severe androgenic side effects associated with testosterone.
This is due to the high level of 5AR in certain areas including the scalp, prostate, and skin.
There are drugs that physique builder take to inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme and eliminate the issue of excess DHT at its core.
Two such drugs are Proscar and Dutasteride. Bodybuilders stress that these drugs will not completely rid the user of androgenic side effects because Testosterone exerts androgenic activity on its own independent of DHT.
Bodybuilders may use a topical androgen blocker as well.
This is applied topically to any area that is affected by increased androgenic activity, such as the scalp or face. The most popular product of this type is Nizoral shampoo,available in 1% to 2% formulas.
The product’s active ingredient is Ketoconazole, which promises to block DHT from attaching to androgen receptors.
Bodybuilders administer this product twice a week during showers. This shampoo is reported to reduce side effects such as acne and oily skin.
Androgenic side effects can include oily skin, acne, body and facial hair growth, BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy, and possible baldness (for those with this genetic marker).
What Are Steroids?
Steroids are artificial hormones that are injected into the body. The artificial hormones that steroids are made up of are meant to imitate testosterone. This is a hormone produced naturally in the human body that plays a major role in building muscle.
Steroids have been used in medicine for a variety of reasons, but many bodybuilders and athletes began abusing them in order to train harder and gain more muscle in a short period of time.
The common use of steroids for bodybuilding involves dosing large amounts everyday for a short period of time. This is known as a cycle, and it is meant to reap the benefits while mitigating testosterone steroid side effects as much as possible.
Used in this way, in conjunction with high-intensity strength training such as weightlifting, users can develop gains in muscle mass of up to 20%.
Steroid Abuse by Teenagers
The perceived positive effects of steroid use makes it very appealing to younger men.
One report states that up to 12% of adolescent males have used them.
It can be tempting for a young athlete to supplement their training regimen with the short term effects steroids can have on their muscle growth.
However, the long term effects it can have on their body are extremely dangerous.
If a teenager who is still going through hormone development begins supplementing with steroids, it can cause permanent damage to their body.
Effects of Steroid Use on Teenagers
Severe breakouts of acne
Stunted height and growth
Kidney and liver problems
High blood pressure and cholesterol
Potential heart attack or stroke
Steroid Abuse by Women
While men are more common users of steroids, there are also women who seek out the side effects of steroids in bodybuilding.
There are some benefits of taking Testosterone for women. But women have to be careful and only take very small doses due to the likelihood of virilization.
While it can provide additional muscle growth, the negative effects of steroids that come from mega doses of testosterone are even worse for women.
Effects of Steroid Use on Women:
Abnormalities in menstruation
Body hair growth
Reduced breast size
Avoiding Side Effects of Steroids
Due to the numerous and severe side effects of testosterone steroids in bodybuilding, people have attempted different methods of avoiding these negatives.
One popular method of managing negative short term effects involves taking an estrogen blocker midway through their cycle.
The result of taking an estrogen blocking supplement such as Clomid is the prevention of side effects having to do with estrogen buildup, such as gynecomastia and testicle shrinkage.
Other side effects from steroids can also be treated. For example, acne breakouts can be treated with frequent face washing, as well as the use of medication such as Retin-A or Accutane.
Cholesterol buildup can be reduced with a diet rich in leafy green vegetables and good cholesterol, such as Omega-3 fatty acids. In order to prevent hair loss, shampoo containing Ketoconazole or supplements containing Finasteride can sometimes be very effective.
However, the most effective way to avoid testosterone steroid side effects is to avoid steroids altogether. There are many healthy ways to increase natural levels of testosterone in the body, such as eating a diet high in important micronutrients.
Zinc and Vitamin D are very important for testosterone production, so consider taking supplements for them if your diet is lacking.
You can also try different bodybuilding supplements such as branched-chain amino acids or Creatine Monohydrate, which are excellent ways to increase muscle mass and burn fat.
Positive Effects of Steroids
Despite all of the negative effects steroids can have on your body, you may still be interested in trying it.
If that is the case, it is recommended that you only try them if you are older than 25, you have been training seriously for at least 5 years, and it is legal to purchase where you live.
If these three factors apply to you, steroids can benefit your body in the ways listed below.
Increased muscle growth and fat loss
Decreased recovery time
Increased sexual performance
Higher energy levels
Improved athletic performance
It’s better to not put your body at the risk of testosterone steroid side effects altogether though. Instead seek alternatives to testosterone for sale, such as Testo-Max by CrazyBulk, which helps boost your testosterone levels in a natural, legal and safer way.