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What are the effects of long term anabolic steroid use?
Abusing steroids can lead to some very serious side effects so it is worth weighing the risks against the benefits before you use these substances.
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The name “steroid” is given to a certain class of organic compounds having a particular molecular structure.
They include certain natural hormones (like testosterone) as well as other natural substances like cholesterol and certain vitamins.
When referencing them in connection to bodybuilders or athletes, however, the type of steroid that is generally being discussed are anabolics.
Anabolics are a group of synthetic hormones derived from testosterone which can be used to promote muscle/tissue growth, to increase size, to improve endurance, and to speed recovery.
The complete name for anabolic steroids is “anabolic-androgenic steroids” or AAS.
They can be prescribed by a doctor to treat certain conditions that result from hormonal deficiencies (such as delayed puberty) as well as diseases that can cause a reduction in lean muscle mass, like AIDS or cancer.
For bodybuilders and athletes, however, they serve another purpose – they can be used to enhance performance and to improve physique.
If you want to build muscle and improve your physique, you will probably start lifting weights, exercising, and make changes to your diet.
For athletes and bodybuilders who want to achieve their goals more quickly, AAS use can make that happen.
They have two effects on the human body – anabolic effects (promote muscle gains) and androgenic (promoting male traits).
Different drugs can help to boost protein synthesis and nitrogen retention in muscle tissue which can result in speedy muscle gains, increased strength, and improved physical appearance.
Some can also help to speed the recovery period following a tough workout.
Some of the most popular ones used for these purposes include testosterone, anavar, winstrol, trenbolone, deca durabolin, dianabol, anadrol, and clenbuterol.
AAS are a controlled substance but they can be legally prescribed for certain medical conditions.
Unfortunately, many of the bodybuilders and athletes who use steroids do so illegally and often irresponsibly.
When prescribed by a doctor, they can be taken orally or injected directly into the muscle.
Some can be applied via topical cream or gel, though these options are less common. People who abuse them often taken them in doses 10 to 100 times higher than the dosage prescribed by doctors for medical treatment.
When prescribed by a doctor, steroids are intended for intermittent use – this helps to reduce the risk for side effects and it gives the body a chance to adjust to hormonal changes.
People who abuse them, however, often use them continuously and in high doses that can wreak havoc on the body.
Many abusers also engage in a practice called “stacking” in which they combine steroids and other supplements to maximize their results.
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Different steroids affect the body in different ways and they may have different effects on men versus women.
For men, the short-term effects may include reduced sperm count or impotence, painful or difficult urination, and heart damage.
Some long-term side effects may include liver disease, shrinking of the testicles, and development of breasts.
Women who take them may experience a reduction in breast size and excessive hair growth in the short-term as well as a deeper voice, enlarged clitoris, and abnormal menstrual cycles in the long-term.
Aside from these physical effects, long-term steroid use can have some very serious negative effects on your health as well. It disrupts your body’s hormone production and balance and it can trigger a growth spurt.
They have been known to induce heart attacks and strokes in athletes as young as 30 (or younger) and they can cause an increase in cholesterol levels along with an increased risk for atherosclerosis.
These substances can wreak havoc on the liver and kidneys, plus they can cause the user to develop acne and cysts on the skin.
Perhaps some of the most serious long-term effects of steroid use are psychological.
Abusers have been known to experience a variety of psychiatric effects including rage, mania, and delusions – use has also been known to trigger mood swings and serious depression.
The term “roid rage” refers to sudden and intense feelings of aggression or manic rage that abusers are likely to experience.
Abusers have also been known to experience extreme irritability, paranoid jealousy, and impaired judgment.
Because long-term use can be so dangerous, many people who use them engage in a practice called cycling.
This term refers to a pattern in which the person uses steroids for a period of several weeks or months at a time and then takes a break for a predetermined period before resuming use.
There are three main purposes served by stacking:
Users often use the phrase “on-cycle” to describe periods when they are actively using them and “off-cycle” during the break.
The length of a cycle can vary, but it generally lasts between 6 and 12 weeks. Taking breaks from use is very important because the long-term effects can be quite severe.
Oral versions are particularly fast-acting and they can be toxic if taken continuously over long periods of time.
Some users will cycle their use by taking the drugs for four weeks and then switching to injections for the remainder of the cycle.
The top anabolic steroids may help you to achieve your goals in terms of mass, muscle, and physique but you need to seriously ask yourself whether it is worth the risk.
Hard work and time can also work to get you where you want to be so carefully consider the risks of taking a shortcut with long term steroid use.