The effects of steroids, it is largely accepted they are strong proponents of muscle mass and strength, but that’s not all. It’s often stated the effects of steroids will rot your liver, lead to heart attacks, strokes and in some cases, even HIV. You’ve heard the stories about raging lunatics; men who’ve supplemented with anabolic androgenic steroids only to have their brain melted and mutated into a crisp pile of evil. Of course, none of these claims revolving the adverse nature hold any truth, and mass and strength while true it’s a little vague. This leaves us with only one question; what are the actual effects of steroids?
Anabolic androgenic steroids are not foreign substances to the body; they share nothing in common with prescription or even recreational drugs. Anabolic steroids are hormones, and they are all hormones based on the primary naturally produced androgen testosterone with the androgen dihydrotestosterone also playing an important role; they are merely synthetic versions. For example, when we supplement with the primary anabolic steroid testosterone, while we are providing testosterone in exogenous fashion our body does not make any distinguishing difference in exogenous testosterone and naturally produced; it’s simply testosterone. If this is the case, and we assure you it is, it raises another important question; why supplement with anabolic steroids?
The Positive Effects of Steroids
There are two primary reasons for anabolic steroid use; therapeutic treatment and performance enhancement. With therapeutic treatment, there are two primary courses of action; your body is lacking a particular hormone and more must be applied to meet its needs, or excess amounts must be provided to remedy a specific condition. Then we have performance enhancement, and in this case, once again the idea is to add excess amounts of specific hormones so that the effects of steroids will yield results at a greater degree akin to such a hormone. In many ways, there’s some strong overlapping as it pertains to therapeutic treatment and performance enhancement; the largest difference rest in the total doses.
When it comes to therapeutic treatment there are 12 common possible reasons for supplementation, and each one is listed below. With some of these, you will begin to easily see how the effects of steroids can enhance performance; after all, as stated there are some strong overlapping factors. At any rate, the effects of steroids as it pertains to therapeutic treatment largely revolve around the following:
- Anemia – anemia is a condition where the body is not producing enough red blood cells, and as red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to and through the blood it’s not too hard to see how such a condition would be problematic. Fortunately, one of the primary traits of many anabolic steroids is increasing red blood cell count; common steroids used for this purpose include Anadrol, Anavar, Deca-Durabolin and sometimes Winstrol
- Andropause – Andropause is a condition similar to low testosterone as low testosterone is part of the problem; however, those suffering from Andropause are often found to be lacking dehydroepiandrosterone (5-DHEA) and sometimes to a degree some type of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) deficiency. Common steroids used for this purpose include AndroDerm, AndroGel, Andriol, Nebido, Sustanon-250, Testopel, Testosterone-Cypionate, Testosterone-Enanthate, Testosterone-Propionate and to a lesser degree Testosterone-Suspension
- Angioedema – angioedema simply refers to severe edema; simply a rapid swelling of the tissue. Common steroids used to treat this condition include Winstrol and Winstrol Depot.
- Breast Cancer – while anabolic steroids are rarely used to treat breast cancer, SERM’s and AI’s are far more common, the anabolic steroid Halotestin has been used on occasion when severe measures are needed. The benefit is Halotestin can have a positive anti-estrogenic effect and as estrogen is the enemy of a breast cancer patient it can at times be a welcomed treatment.
- Burn Victims – burn victims are often in a state of decreased lean tissue, and as anabolic steroids can promote such a needed increase they can be quite beneficial. Treating severe burn victims is one of the oldest therapeutic based steroid treatments, and the effects of steroids in this regard can prove to be invaluable. Common steroids that can be used to treat this condition include any steroid that promotes mass; see chart below.
- Delayed Puberty – it’s no secret; in most all cases children have no business supplementing with anabolic androgenic steroids as such use can severely damage their fragile and developing androgen system; often irreversibly. However, as anabolic steroids are based upon the primary androgens, the very androgens a child may not be producing, if delayed puberty is a problem they are often the only thing that will remedy the situation. Almost all anabolic steroids can be used for this purpose to a degree, but it is normally and should be a last resort.
- Low Testosterone – without question, this is the most common reason for therapeutic anabolic steroid treatment, and one millions of men the world over are more than thankful for. If you suffer from low testosterone, you can suffer physically, sexually and even mentally, and as you’re lacking this primary androgen there’s nothing better to correct this lacking condition than pure testosterone; all testosterone compounds discussed under Andropause can be used here.
- Muscle Wasting Diseases – all that was said of burn victims applies to muscle wasting diseases.
- Osteoporosis – osteoporosis simply refers to a loss of bone density and bone tissue; fortunately, the effects of steroids can reverse such a condition by promoting increases in bone mineral content and collagen synthesis; lean tissue growth can also have a positive impact. In most cases, Anavar is the most commonly prescribed; however, some physicians are beginning to realize Nandrolone hormones such as Deca-Durabolin are far more effective as increases in bone mineral content and collagen synthesis are a primary trait of this steroid that no other steroid carries at such a level.
- Renal Insufficiency – renal insufficiency refers to kidney failure; the kidneys are no longer filtering waste and toxins properly. Part of the problem is the kidneys are supposed to produce erythropoietin which plays a massive role in red blood cell production; those who suffer from renal insufficiency often suffer from anemia, a red blood cell deficiency. Once again, one of the primary effects of steroids is their ability to increase red blood cell count; Nandrolone compounds like Deca-Durabolin are most commonly used for this purpose.
- Severe Strength Loss – could be caused by a muscle wasting disease and could be caused by some type of hormonal deficiency; there are truly countless possibilities. In any case, the effects of steroids largely surround strength increases; the most common steroids used for this purpose include Winstrol and Winstrol Depot, but almost any DHT steroid could present a benefit.
- Weight Loss – anabolic steroids can be used to treat needed weight loss when obesity is caused by a hormone deficiency; Winstrol and Winstrol Depot are the most common prescribed; however, Anavar can be very useful as well as testosterone if the condition is in-part testosterone based.
This takes care of the therapeutic needs, but what about performance enhancement? By now, you should already be able to see how the effects of steroids might enhance performance, but we want to delve in deeper; specifically, we want to look at the primary traits associated with supraphysiological doses. All in all, there are ten primary effects of anabolic androgenic steroids most performance enhancers are concerned with; they are not the only traits, but they are primary. Each and every last anabolic steroid will carry a number of these traits; some will carry more than others, and when it carries a trait each one will carry it at a varying level of power. In many ways, it is the precise combination of traits and the level of power a steroid carries each one that distinguishes one from the next, and there can be quite a few variances. In any case, the primary effects of steroids as it pertains to performance enhancement include:
- Increased Bone-Mineral Content – simply refers to increased strength of the skeletal structure and tissue. Stronger bones, greater health and greater performance.
- Increased Collagen Synthesis – collagen is the protein that represents the base protein of most connective tissue such as the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones and of course within the muscle tissue itself. As this rate of synthesis is increased, repair and rejuvenation of such areas is enhanced.Increased Glycogenolysis – glycogenolysis refers to the rate by which glycogen converts to glucose, and as this rate is increased our body is able to utilize its carbohydrate intake to a greater degree, and as you understand, carbohydrates are a direct energy source.
- Increased Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) Production – IGF-1 is a potent peptide hormone that carries an extraordinarily anabolic nature as well as a nature that plays a strong role in our body’s recovery process. So important, IGF-1 affects nearly every cell in the human body.Increased Nitrogen Retention – all muscle tissue is comprised of approximately 16% nitrogen, and if our nitrogen levels fall we slip into a catabolic state. Conversely, the more we retain the greater our anabolic activity; this is one of the primary effects of steroids and intrinsic to growth and preservation.
- Increased Nutrient Efficiency – through increased nutrient efficiency, each and every nutrient, specifically carbohydrates, fats and proteins become more valuable; in-short, we are able to utilize each gram to a higher degree. As nothing on earth is more anabolic than food, it’s not too hard to see how valuable this effect can be.
- Increased Protein Synthesis – of all the effects of steroids, this is one shared by almost all anabolic steroids and simply refers to the rate by-which cells build proteins; proteins representing the building blocks of all lean muscle tissue. As this rate is increased, as was with nitrogen retention it plays an intrinsic role in-regards to growth and preservation; not to mention recovery.
- Increased Red Blood Cell Count – as red blood cells carry oxygen to and through the blood, higher levels of oxygenation will result in greater muscular endurance. This increase in red blood cells can also have a positive visually related conditioning effect revolving around vascularity in individuals who are lean enough and desire such a trait.
- Decreased Glucocorticoid Production – commonly referred to as stress hormones, cortisol being the most well-known, glucocorticoid hormones represent the hormones that promote fat gain and storage and they even destroy muscle tissue. Further, with a large presence of glucocorticoid hormones, this can make fat-loss extremely difficult and even hinder tissue gains.
- Decreased Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) – SHBG is a glycoprotein that binds sex hormones; most notably testosterone. With decreased SHBG, we provide our body with more free testosterone and this simply allows all the traits of testosterone, many of which have just been listed to be all the more enhanced.
The Negative Effects of Steroids
While the above represents the positive, there are negative effects of steroids we must be aware of; specifically, possible adverse side-effects. As with anything we put into our body, steroids, non-steroidal substances and even many foods and vitamins there are adverse risks, but thankfully when it comes to anabolic androgenic steroids such risks largely fall into the realm of possible and not guaranteed. Of course, factors revolving around an individual’s genetic response, total dosing and genetic predispositions will all play a role, but when it comes to the negative effects of steroids most problems can be avoided when supplementation is undertaken by a healthy adult and in a responsible manner. We have listed all the possible negative effects of steroids below; all in all there are 10 effects of note; some will carry multiple effects within. Each one is listed along with the cause and prevention, and with such information the negative effects of steroids can be avoided. It must be noted; in-order to avoid such negative effects, supplementation should not be undertaken if you suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prostate issues or liver damage. Further, this is all assuming you’re a healthy adult; anabolic steroid use and adolescents simply do not mix due to the androgen damage possibility that is virtually assured unless for the specific case of therapeutic treatment as discussed above.
- Acne – while acne is possible, it will largely be a concern for those who are already sensitive to acne to begin with. As is the case, most commonly DHT based anabolic steroids will bring forth the greatest risk; testosterone based steroids can too, but the odds are much stronger with DHT based steroids in genetically sensitive individuals. For this reason, keeping your skin dry and clean at all times is very important; if you are sensitive, you may need an extra shower a day and you should never keep your shirt on after it becomes sweaty; change into a dry shirt. If you are really sensitive, you may need to avoid DHT compounds.
- Blood Pressure – one of the most common negative effects of steroids, high blood pressure is also one of the easiest to avoid. The most common cause of such a condition is linked to the aromatizing effect of many steroids; aromatase referring to the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. As estrogen levels rise, this can lead to water retention in-turn leading to high blood pressure. High doses can also play a role as well as your overall lifestyle. Aromatase Inhibitors (AI’s) can be useful in this regard as we’ll see as it pertains to gynecomastia and water retention itself. Further, ensuring your overall lifestyle habits are blood pressure friendly and your steroid doses are of a responsible nature will do a lot to protect you.
- Cholesterol – almost all anabolic steroids can have some type of effect on cholesterol; lowering HDL cholesterol and increasing LDL cholesterol are both possibilities. Once again, dosing and lifestyle habits will be very important; it should also be noted the AI’s you may use to combat aromatase can have a negative impact on cholesterol, and this makes your healthy lifestyle habits all the more important. A clean diet that is rich in omega fatty acids is highly advised; omega fatty acids will increase your HDL levels, and this will promote healthy LDL levels as HDL cholesterol regulates LDL cholesterol to a large degree.
- Gynecomastia – often referred to as male-breast enlargement or “Gyno” gynecomastia is most commonly caused by an excess estrogen buildup due to a steroid’s aromatizing nature; however, progesterone can also play a role; especially in men who are extremely sensitive to gyno. This is one area an AI will prove to be invaluable; AI’s inhibit the aromatase process and reduce estrogen levels; therefore, there is no estrogen buildup that can cause a problem. Further, they will protect against progesterone, and while many use Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERM’s) for this purpose, they’re often not enough, will do nothing to protect against progesterone or any other aromatase based side-effects.
- Hair-Loss – of all the negative effects of steroids, hair-loss is completely genetically dependent; meaning, only those who are predisposed to male-pattern baldness risk losing any of their hair. In most cases, DHT steroids will be the prime culprit as DHT can deteriorate the hair follicles and cause related hair-loss; however, testosterone based can also cause this if there is a large enough DHT conversion. At any rate, if you are at risk and concerned about your hair-line, your best bet is to avoid DHT steroids or to use the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor Finasteride. It should go without saying; men who are not predisposed to male-pattern baldness are not at risk of losing any hair; if you are at risk, you were going to lose it any way, but certain anabolic steroids may speed it up.
- Liver – liver damage is one of the most blown out of proportion side-effects known to man; it’s often stated as a matter of fact, but most steroids carry no liver toxic effects. For this to be a risk, you must be supplementing with a C17-alpha alkylated (C17-aa) anabolic steroid. The C17-aa nature refers to a structural alteration of the hormone at the 17th carbon position that allows it to survive the first pass through the liver; without it, that particular steroid would largely be destroyed before it could ever provide a benefit to the body. Most oral steroids are C17-aa, with the exception of oral Primobolan and Proviron and most injectable steroids are not; Winstrol Depot and injectable Dianabol being the two primary exceptions. At any rate, with the use of a C17-aa steroid, your liver enzyme values will increase; however, if C17-aa steroids are used responsibly most will find their liver enzyme values return to normal shortly after use is discontinued and no damage is done. This responsible use means staying within the recommended dosing and time frames of use, and it also means avoiding alcohol consumption and all over the counter medications where possible. It should be noted; the hepatotoxicity of a C17-aa steroid will vary greatly from one to the next.
- Prostate – with a healthy prostate and responsible use, prostate enlargement is very unlikely, but if a large DHT buildup is allowed to remain for extended periods of time it can occur. Obviously, DHT based steroids will be the primary culprit, but once again testosterone based can play a role if there’s a large enough conversion. If prostate enlargement occurs, you should discontinue all steroid use immediately and consider the use of the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor Finasteride; six months of Finasteride therapy has been shown to significantly reduce prostate enlargement.
- Testosterone Suppression – most all anabolic androgenic steroids will suppress our natural testosterone production; however, the degree of suppression will be dependent on the steroid(s) being used. For this reason, most men will need to include exogenous testosterone; this can be the only steroid they use, but if they’re using other steroids some form of testosterone will normally need to be applied. This will ensure you do not fall into a low testosterone condition; such a condition is not only extremely unhealthy, it can lead to many symptoms that will severely diminish your overall quality of life. Of course, as your natural testosterone production has been suppressed, your testicles will atrophy; after all, testosterone is manufactured in the testicles; atrophy refers to a loss of fullness; your testicles will not vanish into thin air. Of course, once all anabolic steroid use is discontinued and the exogenous hormones have cleared your system, your testicles will regain their fullness as your natural testosterone production will have begun again. It should be noted; natural testosterone recovery is assuming you did not cause permanent damage to your HPTA during supplementation with improper practices, and that you did not suffer from a low testosterone condition prior to anabolic steroid use.
- Virilization – virilization is a negative effect of steroids women will have to concern themselves with as it refers to the promotion of masculine traits; specifically, body-hair growth, a deepening of the vocal chords and clitoral enlargement. Most all anabolic steroids carry a virilization rating, and the key to avoiding such effects is for a woman to choose steroids that carry a low virilization rating, and at a low dose; Anavar should always be the top choice with Primobolan and Winstrol being second options, and sometimes low doses of Equipoise. Of course, as we are all unique to a degree, even with proper use with the proper steroids some may still fall prey; some of us are lactose intolerant, most of us are not and that’s a good way to look at it. In any case, for whatever reason if virilization symptoms occur, if you discontinue use at the onset of symptoms they will fade away rapidly; however, if ignored and allowed to set in, you may find you have a permanent problem.
- Water Retention – excess water retention is the final negative effect of steroids that is caused by a buildup of excess water retention due to the use of aromatizing steroids. As this is the case, once again an AI will offer protection; recall from above an AI inhibits aromatase and reduces estrogen levels. Of course, some will still hold water even with the use of an AI; however, in most cases, this is due to the individual overeating; specifically carbohydrates. If you’re supplementing with aromatizing steroids, use an AI and control your diet you will not hold water.
The above represents the primary adverse or negative effects of steroids; however, there are a few more we must mention. While rare, some may fall prey to anxiety, insomnia, night sweats and rapid heart rate; there are only a few anabolic steroids that can cause such effects; most notably Trenbolone. If such effects occur and you’re supplementing responsibly, this will more than likely mean that particular steroid is not for you.
Effects of Steroids Chart
For an easy point of reference, we have provided two charts below detailing the effects of steroids. We have listed the most common and popular anabolic steroids by their actual compound name and most popular trade name where such applies. While there are other steroids not mentioned, such steroids are extremely rare and will not be used by most individuals or even be available to them. Within the first chart, we have provided the score each steroid holds in-regards to muscle mass promotion, strength promotion, and cutting effect. The three categories are all measured on a scale of one to ten (1-10); it should be noted, just because a steroid has a lower score does not mean it’s worthless; it simply means other steroids perform the specific action with a higher score. Further, in the second chart, each steroid is also listed in accordance to classification; testosterone or dihydrotestosterone based, 19-nortestosterone, and labeled by its aromatizing or progestin nature as well as hepatotoxicity; this will guide you along as it pertains to side-effects by referencing the negative effects of steroids discussion above. For our female friends, we have also included virilization scores; this time with a high, moderate to low ranking. In the second chart, each steroid is simply listed by its most commonly used name.
|Anadrol||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing yet strongly estrogenic – strong hepatotoxicity||High|
|Anavar||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – low hepatotoxicity||Extremely Low|
|Deca-Durabolin||19-nortestosterone||Low aromatase – strong progestin – no hepatotoxicity||Moderate|
|Dianabol||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – moderately high hepatotoxicity||High|
|Durabolin (NPP)||19-nortestosterone||Low aromatase – strong progestin – no hepatotoxicity||Moderate|
|Equipoise||Testosterone||Low aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||Moderately Low|
|Halotestin||Testosterone||Non-aromatizing – Extremely strong hepatotoxicity||High|
|Masteron||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – no hepatotoxicity||Moderate|
|Omnadren||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Parabolan||19-nortestosterone||Low aromatase – strong progestin – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Oral Primobolan||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – no hepatotoxicity||Low|
|Primobolan Depot||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – no hepatotoxicity||Low|
|Proviron||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – no hepatotoxicity||Moderate|
|Sustanon-250||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Testosterone-Cypionate||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Testosterone-Enanthate||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Testosterone-Propionate||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Testosterone-Suspension||Testosterone||Strong aromatase – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Trenbolone-Acetate||19-nortestosterone||Low aromatase – strong progestin – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Trenbolone-Enanthate||19-nortestosterone||Low aromatase – strong progestin – no hepatotoxicity||High|
|Turinabol||Testosterone||Non-aromatizing – moderate hepatotoxicity||Moderate|
|Winstrol||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – strong hepatotoxicity||Moderately Low|
|Winstrol Depot||Dihydrotestosterone||Non-aromatizing – strong hepatotoxicity||Moderately Low|
Warning! Articles related to the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs are for information purposes only and are the sole expressions of the individual authors opinion. We do not promote the use of these substances and the information contained within this publication is not intended to persuade or encourage the use or possession of illegal substances. These substances should be used only under the advice and supervision of a qualified, licensed physician.