steriodsFrom Barry Bonds to Marion Jones, athletes have made steroids famous.  Viewing the “before and after” photos of steroid-taking baseball players is enough to make any body builder curious.  Before experimenting with steroids, however, it is important to fully research all the ramifications.  Many athletes are shocked by what they find after years of taking so-called “juice”.

Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about steroids.

Steriods Act Like Sex Hormones

Steroids replicate human sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen, which is why they are used by doctors to treat delayed puberty and other hormone issues. 

Steroid Side Effects Are Often Irreversible

While steroids earn their appeal through their capacity to increase lean muscle mass, strength, and the ability to train harder and longer, the side effects outweigh the benefits by a long-shot.  Minor side effects include acne, excess hair growth, and deepening of the voice.  Long-term side effects include high risk of cancer, increased heart and liver disease, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, changes in blood coagulation, increased risk of atherosclerosis, swelling of the soft tissues of the extremities, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Side effects in men specifically include testicular atrophy, shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, and even the development of breasts.  Women can experience enlargement of the clitoris, changes in body contour, increased facial hair, menstrual cycle disruptions, deepened voice and infertility.  Many of these side effects are irreversible, even after steroid use is stopped.

Steroids Stunt Growth

While your biceps may be growing, pre-adult growth patterns are interrupted by steroids.  A teenager using juice will find his growth stunted and will experience abnormal sexual development.  He will find puberty accelerated, and women will end up with severe acne, excessive body and facial hair, deepened voice, and permanent infertility.  Adolescents in particular are at risk of suffering irreversible side effects.

Steroids Are Addictive

Steroids are a Schedule III drug, which means that although they are permitted for some medical uses, they have a potential for abuse.

They Can Get You High

While the primary use of steroids is to increase muscle mass and strength, the drug also has the ability to produce euphoria.  And yes, many take it just to get high.

They Can Mess With Your Mind

You may be familiar with the stereotypical aggression that results from steroid use, but that is not the only mental side effect of the drug.  It can also cause serious mood disturbances including mania and depression; it can increase the risk of psychosis; and it can cause violent behavior, often putting others at risk.

Steroid Use Can Can Spread STD’s

Steroids are typically taken intravenously, which means that there is always the risk of sharing needles among desperate addicts.  Contaminated needles increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

Steroids are Not Hard to Get

Although steroids are illegal for use without a prescription in the United States, there is no shortage of the drug outside the country.  Addicts can take a trip to Mexico or Thailand to get what they want.  Increasingly, drug trade is being done on the Internet.  Addicts often order steroids online and it ends up on their doorstep.

They Weren’t Always Banned in Sports

Athletic corporations were not aware of the unfair advantage provided by steroids until the 1970’s.  In 1976 they were banned by the International Olympic Committee.  The NFL started testing for steroids in 1987.  Major League Baseball rarely tested for steroids and only implemented strict penalties in 2005.

Steroids Don’t Automatically Give You Muscles

If you think you can simply pop a few pills or inject a serum into your body and begin to grow muscles, you have a rude awakening ahead of you.  You will still need to work out in order to fully build muscle and strength.

Click here for more information on the dangers of steroids.