I’m writing this article to help separate steroid facts from the government propoganda and exaggerations. As a former user of steroids and spent years researching opinions of steroid experts and research studies on steroids, I will try to give the unbiased facts on their use to the best of my knowledge. My purpose in this article is not to be pro or against steroids, but to be unbiased looking at it from my own experience and what the research says on the issue. I will talk about the various symptoms of steroid use and whether it’s actually a myth, fact, or possible. Possible means it is either happening in susceptible people or there is lack of scientific research to prove it as a fact. Also note this is article is for steroid users taking high doses of steroids and not those who are taking testosterone prescribed through doctor to maintain healthy testosterone levels for HRT (hormone replacement therapy).
- Steroids cause BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia)
Possible. BPH is enlargement of the prostate, that usually effects only older men. But, if you use steroids for years, then BPH will probably affect you. Getting BPH from steroids, would depend on how susceptible you are and how long you have used Steroids. Many users of steroids notice a enlarging of their prostate after a while on cycle, making it slighlty more difficult to urinate. There is controversy over what really causes BPH naturally in men, but DHT is thought to be just one possible component. DHT is converted from testosterone in the body and is 3.5 times more androgenic than testosterone. DHT is what gives men their masculinizing sex effects on the body. All androgenic steroids stimulate the same receptors on the prostate (to various degrees called the androgenic to anabolic ratio) in the same way DHT does.
Another mechanism by which BPH might be caused from steroid use, is due to low testosterone levels post cycle. Low testosterone levels and high estrogen, like as seen with post cycle and hypo gonadal men, can actually cause BPH. Many men have had a reduction in BPH when they were treated clinically with testosterone replacement therapy for low testosterone. The prostate usually shrinks back eventually after a steroid cycle, once your testosteron levels get back to normal, but over time I would think this may lead to a more permanent enlargement effect.
- Steroids increase risk of prostate cancer
Myth. For years doctors thought testosterone (steroids) caused prostate cancer itself by “awakening” a slow hidden growing cancer. This is why men who went on HRT (hormone replacement therapy), would get a PSA test to assess their risk for prostate cancer. As time goes on more and more studies are showing prostate cancer is not due to testosterone levels at all and therefore steroid use wouldn’t have any correlation with prostate cancer. This makes logocial sense to me, since younger men would be getting prostate cancer due to the high testosterone levels. It’s also worth to note, that the prostate holds up to 600 times the level of carcinogens as the rest of the body. I believe the risk of Prostate cancer is mainly caused bytoxins and other genetic factors. This is why it was shown in recent studies, that men who ejaculated more frequently in the 20′s, had less likely chance of prostate cancer later in life. Ejaculation helps the flushing of the prostate from cancer from these toxins. Some research studies are also showing increased risk of prostate cancer based on genetics, race, diets, and environmental factors.
- Steroids cause Roid Rage
Myth This is an absolute myth. Roid rage is seen as a condition 360 degree change in personality causing an uncontrollable psychotic anger state. Most studies have disproven the idea of what people consider roid rage. Now there are studies that show a slight more aggression or confidence, but its not going to turn a calm person into an angry psychotic person where they lose all rationale for no reason.
- Steroids shrink your Penis
Myth. Absolutely false. This myth is spread probably from confusion in the fact that your testicles shrink on cycle, due to your testosterone production shutting down temporarily.
- Steroids cause excessive hair growth and very deep voice
Possible. This will depend on how naturally hairy and deep your voice is before your steroid cycle. You may notice more and faster hair growth rate while on cycle. Your voice may get deeper from steroid use long term. It all depends on your genetics, as many steroid users have a higher pitched voice and still lack of natural body hair, even despite frequent steroid use.
- Steroids increase hair loss
Possible. Once again this will depend on your genetics before your cycle. If you have thick hair and aren’t destined to go bald in your life, then you will lose very little hair during cycle.
- Steroids cause hallucinations and delusions
Myth. Steroids are not a mind altering drug and do not cause roid rage or any other kind of psychotic behaviour, like hallucinations.
- Steroids cause high blood pressure
Possible. Steroids due to increased water retention and stimulation on the heart, cause increase in blood pressure. If you have borderline blood pressure it may become high blood pressure during cycle.
- Steroids cause diabetes
Possible. Steroids are known to cause high glucose levels and reduced insulin sensitivity. Using that logic, long term use of steroids possibly could increase risk of diabetes, especially in those who are genetically susceptible to the diabetic gene.
- Steroids cause cataracts
Possible. I think this claim from the fact that diabetics get higher chance of cataracts and steroids increase glucose levels. I don’t think there is any scientific evidence to know what role steroids play in causing cataracts.
- Steroids cause impotence
Possible. This is very common side effect and may happen during or after a cycle. If you are using testosterone, then impotence will probably only happen post cycle, as your body tries to recuperate it’s natural testosterone levels. If you are using a steroid other than testosterone, you may experience it during and after your steroid cycle since your body won’t have testosterone in it because it’s shutting down it’s testosterone production. Even though your replacing one androgenic steroid (dht and testosterone) for a different artificial one, it won’t have the same sexual and libido effects as DHT and testosterone does.
- Steroids cause depression
Possible. It would depend on the type of steroids, what your mental condition was before steroid use, and if you are on or just getting off a steroid cycle. Many users might experience depression post cycle, due to the low testosterone levels.
- Steroids are addictive
Possible. When a person gets off steroids they may be depressed and feel weaker and less energetic than while they were on. This leads to you often wanting to start another steroid cycle and when that is done do another and then another. Most people do not just do one steroid cycle and quit forever.
- Steroids increase risk of liver cancer
Fact. Oral methlyated steroids are certainly proven to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) to the liver. They are methylated so they can bypass the liver the first time. However, many steroid users don’t use oral steroids, but inject them. Injecting them is much safer for the liver.
- Steroids increase stress on your kidneys
Fact. Steroids cause you to retain more sodium and water and increase blood pressure. This results in more stress on the kidneys, especially if you let your blood pressure get too high or don’t drink enough water.
- Steroids lower sperm count
Fact Anytime you take in extra endogenous (outside body) steroids, your natural testosterone and sperm production shut down. Once you get off your steroid cycle, your testicles should awaken and start making sperm and testosterone again. This has made testosterone a viable birth control option and has even been considered in the medical community as male birth control.
- Steroids cause permanent damage to natural testosterone production
Possible. Recovery of your testosterone depends on your personal genetics. Some individuals have problems recovering their testosterone levels, even after their first short cycle. Some have to go months using clomid ( a common post cycle ancilliary) or even inject HCG to jumpstart the testicles. On the other hand, many can do multiple cycles in a row and recover fully their natural testosterone production between each cycle. THe more cycles you do, the more likely you may lead to some long term damage on your natural testosterone production.
- Steroids shorten your life
Possible. There is some research in rats, showing those injected with testosterone didn’t live as long. Testosterone may also be why men don’t live as long as women. Steroids certainly won’t increase your lifespan, but there isn’t evidence that a few steroid cycles will significantly shorten a person’s life either. If one were to abuse it for many years, than I imagine it probably will shorten your lifespan at least a little.
- Steroids lower your HDG (good cholesterol)
Fact. Most steroid users will notice a drop in HDL cholesterol. They also may notice a lowering of LDL and total cholesterol because the liver is under more strain and tends to produce less cholesterol.
- Steroids enlarge your heart
Possible. There is some research that shows that steroid users may have more risk for enlarged or thickening of the walls in the heart. There is controversy over those studies and there isn’t much evidence either way.
- Steroids cause sleep apnea
Possible. Some people may experience sleep apnea while on cycle. This may be caused due to the weight gain and higher blood pressure, while on Steroids.
- Steroids make it harder to gain muscle naturally
Possible. It would depend on how much you used steroids and other factors. If you gained 20 lbs of muscle off a recent steroid cycle and kept it, yes it will be harder to gain muscle naturally on top of that new muscle. On the other hand, if you damaged your testosterone levels from steroid abuse long term, yes it will be harder to gain muscle naturally in the future. If you lose your muscle gains, it may be easier to gain that muscle back naturally because you will have stretched your fascia tissue. Many bodybuilders believe muscle memory is mainly caused by the stretching of fascia tissue in the muscles. Therefore former steroid users may have a easier time reaching more muscle mass, even if they lost their steroid gains because of the muscle memory factor.
- Steroids damage tendons
Fact. There is some research that indicates steroids are damaging to the tendons. To make matters worse, the large increases in strength and weight gain on cycle can cause greater risk of injury on tendons. Usually are tendons don’t have enough time to adjust to the these gains.
- Steroids cause bone loss
Myth. This is confusing anabolic steroids with another form of steroids called Glucocorticoids, which is used for other medical conditions and has very different effects on the body. Anabolic steroids actually have been prescribed in the past for bone marrow stimulation and treating osteoporosis.
- Steroids cause gynecomastia (“Man boobs”)
Possible. Many boys get gynecomastia during puberty. Usually it is lumps of breast tissue underneath the tissue. Steroids can possibly cause or aggrivate it either during a high dose Testosterone cycle, when estrogen levels get too high. It can also happen possibly with Trenebolone, which aggravates gyno through another mechanism in the body, prolactin. Another common way it can happen is post cycle, when your testosterone levels are low but your estrogen levels may be high. This imbalance creates a big risk for gyno to develop. That is one reason why it is important for fast recovery post cycle using anti-estrogen ancillaries like clomid to boost testosterone production and lower estrogen levels.
- Steroids increase acne
Possible. This will depend on how susceptible you are to acne before your cycle. Many show more cystic acne in the face and on their back and chest during cycle. If you are already susceptible to acne, it may increase to extreme levels causing painful acne cysts on the back, chest, or face.
- Steroids cause heart attacks or stroke
Possible. I see absolutely no evidence that in the short term, it would cause this in healthy individuals. However, long term use for decades may increase risk of stroke and heart attack due to the negative effects steroids have on your HDLs, blood pressure, and other possible negative effects of your heart health.
This should help clear up the myths about steroids. We will learn more about its effect on performance and health effects as time goes on and more studies are done.