While this may not be a surprise to those who are well-versed in anabolic steroid use and its effects on the body, the findings of a recent study involving nonathletic bodybuilders suggest that men who take large doses of these performance-enhancing drugs often experience long-lasting testicular dysfunction as a result.
“It has been unclear whether illicit use of anabolic steroids caused a long-lasting or even persistent impairment of the testosterone production in the testicles,” explained Dr. Jon Rasmussen, the author of the study and a scientist at Rigshospitalet, a highly specialized hospital affiliated with the University of Copenhagen
“These results suggest a long-lasting testicular dysfunction,” he said.
Well, this is something that’s well-known especially in cases where users do not properly cycle their doses, cycle off of steroids or do what’s necessary to restore their hormone levels.
For those who don’t know, when taking exogenous hormones such as anabolic steroids, the body’s own natural hormones are suppressed so that steroids can do their thing.
Related: Most Commonly Used Steroids And What They Do
So yeah, taken long enough and/or in high doses and without knowledge of cycling and post-cycle therapy (PCT), it’s more likely to have lasting detrimental effects on hormones and therefore affect testosterone production, fertility, sex drive, and overall well-being.
Not to mention all of the potential undesirable side effects such as gynecomastia (swollen breast tissue), hair loss, mood changes, etc.
According to information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects from misuse of anabolic steroids range from mild to life-threatening. Some are reversible when the drugs are stopped and others potentially permanent or semi-permanent.
The same article notes possible health consequences of steroid misuse. These include health issues of the heart, liver, musculoskeletal system, immune system, skin, and, of course, the hormonal system. And, improper use can have negative effects on mental health.
These are factors that, in the worst of cases, contribute to death.
However, as noted from the article, it can be hard to tell when deaths are caused by anabolic steroid use as most users also use other drugs. Many times, there are other factors and variables to consider.
Of course, the study published in Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism mentioned “illegal” steroid use implying that individuals who are using them for performance and aesthetic reasons not under medical care and who also don’t have a prescription are more likely to run into these issues.
Let’s take a look at the details of the study.
Before we get into the study, it’s important that we provide additional context for reference.
According to Rasmussen, the researchers involved in the study “have identified a hormone made by Leydig cells—cells in the testicles that produce testosterone—as a promising biological marker of testicular function“.
He noted that because blood levels of testosterone fluctuate throughout the day and vary based on body composition, he and his team of researchers are investigating a more stable biomarker called Insulin-like factor (INSL3).
So the study included 132 men who participated in another study and had strength training experience. They were aged 18-52 with an average age of 32.
Researchers separated the men into three groups: 46 men currently using steroids, 42 former steroid users who claimed they did not use any in 32 months, and 44 men who never used steroids.
What they found was that INSL3 levels were “markedly suppressed” in current anabolic steroid users compared with the other two groups (former and never-users). Not to mention, the longer they used steroids, the lower their INSL3 levels would get.
Although it was noted that “the clinically relevant difference in INSL3 levels is not yet known”, Rassmussen believes the findings were indicative of the potential that steroids users could experience hypogonadism later on in life.
He also suggested that the results raise the question of whether previous users may need medical stimulation therapy. The drugs used for the therapy would include aromatase inhibitors and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) that inhibit estrogen or prevent it from converting to testosterone.
Rasmussen is firm in his stance on illegal anabolic steroid use. His suggestion for anyone considering…
“Don’t even consider it. Use of anabolic steroids can cause persistent adverse effects on several organs in the body and could even be lethal.”
A massive issue when it comes to steroid use is that people use them and other body-altering drugs in various forms and have no clue what they’re doing. They want a god-like bod in record time to attract the opposite sex and impress onlookers and aren’t as concerned with the potential for negative side effects.
Related article: Do Women Actually Prefer Muscular Men? We Asked 1000 Women to Find Out.
And then you have the “more is better” approach causing people to treat their bodies like a casino and before they know it, they’re in a deep hole that isn’t easy to get out of.
Anabolic steroids, like other drugs, can be very addicting and are unfortunately oftentimes misused.
The findings of the study will be presented at ENDO 2021; the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting that takes place March 20-23.
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