While anabolic steroids do provide some gains, their abuse is related to a number of adverse effects physically. The most common adverse effects of anabolic steroid abuse may include heart ailments, stroke, cosmetic changes (changes in physical appearance), infertility, problems related to the prostate, damages to the musculoskeletal system and even toxicity of the liver.
Athletes who use anabolic steroids often experience a number of cosmetic changes, which are considered to be the adverse effects of using steroids. For instance, they commonly have an oily skin and acne. In addition, they may experience alterations in their hair patterns, for instance, an increase in the growth of their body hair and speedy male pattern baldness in individuals who are inclined to it. Other unwanted changes in their physical appearance may include enlargement of breast (a condition known as gynecomastia) in men or contraction of breast tissues in women.
While several of these changes are lasting and naturally cause distress to those who experience them, none of them actually pose a serious threat to any of the limbs or the life of the sufferers. In fact, the most serious danger to those using steroids constantly, particularly before their puberty or in their early teens, might possibly result in the untimely shutting down of the growth plates related to the long bones and this may cause some stunting in their height - making them shorter compared to the normal.
Until now, it is not possible to differentiate the injuries caused to the musculoskeletal system owing to steroid use from the damages noticed in athletes involved in strength sports with unusual development of muscles without using any type of steroids. However, studies performed on animals suggest that those using steroids may face a greater risk of tendon breakage. In fact, there are numerous unreliable reports regarding athletes sustaining injuries, especially damages caused to their tendons and ligaments owing to steroid usage.
Scientists have studied the relation between the revocable results of administering steroid and male fertility for over two decades with the purpose of employing anabolic steroids in the form of a male contraceptive. It has been found that taking artificially prepared sex hormones disturbs the usual hormonal process. Several men who have been using steroids have asserted that although they initially resulted in an augmented libido (sexual craving), the sex drive actually declined when steroids are used for an extended period. Majority of men who administer elevated doses of steroids by themselves turn out to be infertile all through the period when they use the steroids and even for some time afterwards - may be for a period of six months or even more. However, administration of steroids cannot produce dependable sterility in all males. What is more, all steroids do not have the same effectiveness. While many scientists are of the view that using steroids in elevated doses and for an extended period of time increases the hazards of infertility, so far there is no reliable document regarding any such incident. Considerable decrease in the testicles' size owing to steroid use is a common problem that is associated with infertility in males.
There are sufficient reasons to suppose that prolonged abuse of anabolic steroids is related to augmented cases of heart diseases. However, thus far this belief has not been demonstrated unambiguously. Use of steroids causes several physical changes and this may possibly explain the reason behind the enhanced chances of developing heart diseases owing to steroid abuse.
Excessive use of steroids or their abuse has lately turned out to be a potential reason for developing thrombotic stroke - the type that occurs due to formation of blood clots in the vessels. Medical literature mentions about numerous case reports related to athletes and also talks about a young man who enhanced his oral consumption of a type of testosterone, which the physicians had prescribed him in order to aid him to recover after having this type of stroke. Moreover, details of numerous incidences of stroke suffered by Japanese men taking elevated doses of anabolic steroids for treating a form of anemia have also been reported. While there is no existence of any direct evidence, scientists are skeptical about the clinical conditions of such reports, which hint a likely association between using steroids and the chances of developing strokes. In case there is an existence of any casual association between the two, it may perhaps be considered as the maiden proof of the fact that steroids possibly have serious, but temporary effects.
Women taking oral contraceptives have somewhat increased chances of developing breast cancer, because birth control pills are actually contain sex hormones. Similarly, men using steroids may possibly have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer. While prostate cancer usually afflicts older males, in America, it is the second main cause of deaths due to cancer in men - the first being lung cancer. Physicians are aware of the fact that the male sex hormone testosterone has a negative influence on prostate cancer. Hence, the usual treatment for this condition already comprises blocking or diminishing the production and secretion of testosterone inside the body. According to a case report, a bodybuilder developed prostate cancer very early in life - when he was just 40 years old. It is most likely that men who are using steroids now will have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer when they grow older.
There is no doubt that steroids cause a powerful negative impact on the functioning of the liver. This is not amazing, as the liver is the main location from where our body gets rid of steroids. In effect, all the alterations in the liver's structure have been found to be related with a form of orally used steroids called 17 alpha-alkylated steroids. Oral use of steroids exposes the liver to the entire dose of the medication prior to its distribution in the circulation. Such type of exposure may be especially unsafe or even hazardous in people who have been suffering from impaired functioning of the liver from before owing to other different reasons. Abuse or excessive use of anabolic steroids may also cause liver injuries in many other ways.