Yes, steroids sound useful.
They might even sound pretty benign. After all, they’re just helping aid a natural process that your body already does on its own.
While all of this is true, there are a lot of side effects that go along with steroid use. Some of these are reversible and can go away once you stop using steroids while others can be permanent. There are also some steroid alternatives that work but they will not give as great results as the real deal.
Some of the reversible side effects are:
- Acne and cysts
- Changes in menstrual cycle for women
- Deepened voice for women
- Delusions and paranoia
- Enlarged clitoris in women
- High blood pressure
- Impaired judgment
- Increase in facial/body hair in women
- Increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
- Low sperm count in men
- Mood swings, including increased aggression & jealousy
- Oily hair and skin
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Testicular atrophy in men
While the reversible side effects go away when the steroids are out of your system, the irreversible damage that you can do to your body has to be considered. This can include cardiovascular problems, kidney problems or failure, and liver disease. In men specifically, steroids can lead to male-pattern baldness, an increased risk of prostate cancer, and gynecomastia.
With an increase in teenage steroid users, there are also side effects specific to teens that include stunted growth. This is because the body recognizes the increase of hormones in the body and stops bone growth earlier than it normally would. There are also substances that are steroid-like but not actually steroids, such as Clenbuterol.
One of the major issues is also the possibility of developing an addiction to steroids. This is a little different than other drug addictions. Steroids don’t affect your brain like other drugs. They don’t trigger the release of dopamine so there is no euphoria or “high” associated with their use. However, steroids are addictive due to the biological changes they make in your body.
Studies show that steroid users can develop a dependency on the drug due to the strength it gives them. Users report feeling almost invincible when they’re taking steroids but feel deflated physically and mentally when off of them. Thanks to this, your body ends up craving the steroid the same way someone addicted to heroin craves it. Similarly, you can go through withdrawal when you stop using steroids. That alone can keep you using steroids even after you stop pursuing muscle growth.
There are a number of products available on the market that aren’t considered anabolic steroids or human growth hormones that are considered safer to use while still being effective for increasing muscle mass. These are supplements that mimic the effects of steroids in different ways. These supplements include:
- Whey protein
- Casein protein
- Green tea extract
- Branched-chain amino acids
It’s usually best to use these supplements together in different dosages to get the maximum effects. They may have side effects of their own but those tend to be less severe than those of actual steroids. The supplements are also available in stores and the internet and won’t have legal restrictions on them.