Anabolic steroids are used for some medical conditions to support essential functions like fighting stress and promoting growth and development. Some athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders outside the healthy sphere use them to increase their muscle growth and improve their strength beyond the natural limit.
But are they worth it?
While steroids’ muscle-building capabilities are well documented, these over-the-counter supplements do not enjoy a good rap. If taken without medical advice, according to this article by the National Health Service, anabolic steroids can cause severe side effects along with addiction.
This post will discuss everything you need to know about anabolic steroids before using them without prescriptions. Read on to know if steroids are really worth it.
What are anabolic steroids?
Steroids, also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) or just anabolic steroids, are synthetic derivatives of the male sex hormone testosterone. They are sold in the form of supplements, and when consumed, they replace or add to the user’s natural testosterone levels.
Like natural testosterone, anabolic steroids are potent promoters of protein synthesis, which results in improvements in muscle size, body mass, and strength. Other than stimulating muscle growth and development, these synthetic derivatives of testosterone enhance other male characteristics, including masculine voice, body hair, libido, sperm production, aggressiveness, and development of male pattern baldness.
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Because of their effects, anabolic agents can be prescribed to people with muscle wasting or testosterone production disorders. Back to the topic, some bodybuilders take steroids to boost muscle mass and performance. However, the practice is considered illegal because improving athletic performance is not approved medical use of steroids.
Notably, anabolic steroids shouldn’t be confused with corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are a different type of steroid and don’t have the same harmful effects as AASs.
Are anabolic steroids legal?
Simple answer: YES. Anabolic steroids are muscle-building supplements that fall under Class C drugs and can be sold by pharmacists with a prescription. That said, it is legal to have steroids for personal use.
Because of their effect, most organizations in the sports industry have banned the use of anabolic steroids and usually test athletes for banned steroids.
Note: Non-medical use of steroids is illegal under the Controlled Substance Act, meaning unlawful possession and distribution are punishable subject to federal and state laws.
Are steroids good for bodybuilding?
For many years, many people have been inclined to seek easy ways to promote the speed and quality of bodily strength and athletic performance. Athletes and non-athletes have used drugs and supplements, particularly steroids, to enhance their physique in sports and bodybuilding. So, why are people, mainly bodybuilders using steroids?
Here are potential benefits and reasons why athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders misuse anabolic steroids.
Using anabolic-androgenic steroids may:
- Increase the cross-sectional area of muscles
- Enhance pain tolerance while promoting recovery from injury and between workouts
- Stimulate the production of proteins
- Increase muscle endurance, strength, and power.
- Accelerate lipolysis, decrease body fat, and increase lean body mass
- Promote glycogen storage and overall mineral density
People of all ages, including teens suffering from body dysmorphic disorders, have long been misusing anabolic steroids believing that the drugs will help them fit and healthy.
The truth is, using certain anabolic steroids in small amounts and under medical supervision should and will not hurt you. On the other hand, taking anabolic steroids for considerably longer is a bad drug habit, which can lead to addiction and cause potentially dangerous medical conditions.
So, are they worth it? Maybe yes and maybe no. Anabolic steroids have been found to mimic the effects of naturally produced testosterone; therefore, improving endurance, strength, and muscle mass. However, according to this article, research has not been able to establish if steroids improve skill, agility, and athletic performance.
Steroids side effects
Many bodybuilders and athletes take anabolic steroids at doses that are much higher than what is prescribed for medical reasons on the basis that: if a low dose is effective, then more must be better.
Despite their potential benefits, steroids have adverse effects whose severity varies depending on the specific product used, age and sex of the user, amounts used, and duration. Normal doses, though rarely, may have the following side effects.
- Hair growth or loss
- Changes in libido
- Fluid retention
- Stunted growth (in adolescents)
- High cholesterol
- Blood clots
- Kidney problem or failure
- Heart attack and stroke
- Hemoglobin spikes
Over dosage and non-medical use of anabolic steroids can exert various effects on the body and put the user at more risk of getting chronic health conditions.
For men, on top of the above-listed effects, steroids abuse increases the risk of:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Increased risk of prostate cancer
- Erectile dysfunction
- Male-pattern baldness
- Gynecomastia - enlarging of male breasts
- Low sperm count or infertility
- Shrunken testicles
- Stomach pain
- Liver dysfunction
For women, steroid abuse risks include:
- Changes in face shape and deeper voice
- Irregular periods and larger than the normal clitoris
- Shrinking of breasts
- Facial or growth
- Increased sex drive
- Severe acne
Like many other controlled substances, over-dependence on anabolic steroids can result in addiction and psychological problems like mania, depression, and mood swings.
How are steroids misused? Is there a safe dosage?
Anabolic steroids are some of the most misused supplements and drugs in recreational settings. What is more, how they are misused can exacerbate the side effects. Here are different ways through which steroids are misused.
- Stacking: This involves using different types of steroids at once, aiming to increase the potency of individual drugs.
- Cyclic pattern: Cycling involves using steroids in large amounts while alternating with periods of discontinued use.
- Pyramiding: As the name suggests, this involves starting with small doses (normal doses), followed by more amounts, and then reducing the amounts gradually.
- Plateauing: This is a pattern where bodybuilders switch from one steroid to another and switch back so that they all stay effective.
Talking of dosage, although lower, controlled doses of anabolic steroids can be significantly safer than uncontrolled doses, no studies have compared the safety of different doses of steroids.
Conclusion: Are steroids worth it?
Despite anabolic steroids being commonly used in bodybuilding to increase muscle mass and strength, they can be dangerous and cause severe side effects at any dose. Indeed, the risks outshine the benefits, and anyone looking to build muscle mass should consider alternatives. Some of the top legal steroids alternatives are D-Bal Max, HGH-X2, and Testo-Max. So which one would you take, anabolic steroid or alternatives?
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