Steroids and performance-enhancing drugs remain a significant problem in bodybuilding during competitions. The use of steroids has been around for years and continues to rise today, including the related deaths caused by misuse.
The misuse of performance-enhancing drugs can be dangerous and every year hundreds of bodybuilders and athletes still try them for the first time. PEDs and steroids can be very harmful to your body and have very negative long-term effects if you take them incorrectly or without medical supervision.
While this is a vast topic, this article discusses steroids and some of the things you should know about performance-enhancing drugs before considering taking them.
What are PEDs and Steroids?
PEDs stands for performance-enhancing drugs and athletes use them to improve their performance by enabling the user to train harder, recover faster, or perform at a higher level. Some bodybuilders also use these illegal substances to build muscles and boost testosterone levels. These types of PEDs can be taken orally, injected, or applied topically.
Anabolic steroids are the most commonly known type of PEDs. Other kinds include human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), human growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).
Mostly all major sports organizations have banned PEDs because they violate anti-doping rules. They’re also illegal in countries like the United States because their adverse effects outweigh the benefits. However, if you have a legitimate medical need for them, you can acquire them legally under a doctor’s prescription.
Bodybuilders and athletes acquire these illegal substances and use them to build muscle mass and increase strength faster than they could through diet and exercise alone.
Steroids or anabolic steroids also fall under prescription drugs used to treat medical conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and other respiratory diseases. They can also be used as bodybuilding supplements to increase muscle mass in bodybuilders.
However, PEDs and anabolic steroids also have side effects that can cause long-term health problems if used for extended periods or in overdoses.
Effects of Performance-enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and Steroid Use on Your Body
The impact of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and steroid use on your body can range from mild to profound. The more you take them, the more the risk of severe side effects increases.
The most common side effects include:
Increased Blood Pressure
Augmentation of training schedules with PEDs such as anabolic steroids, growth hormones, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) can lead to increased blood pressure (BP), which may increase the risk of heart disease.
PEDs and steroids can also cause a situation called water retention, which leads to higher blood pressure.
Disruption of the Normal Hormones Production
Performance-enhancing drugs and steroid use disrupt the production of hormones in your body, such as testosterone and growth hormone. This can lead to enlarged breasts, decreased sperm production, testicular cancer, male-pattern baldness, and shrinking of the testicles in males.
In females, some side effects of taking steroids are the skin getting rough, body fat and breast size reduction, and a deepening in voice. Women may also grow excess hair on their bodies but lose scalp hair.
Some of these effects become irreversible when you use steroids repeatedly, while others are reversible. Some of the irreversible changes are breast development and male-pattern baldness in men.
PED and Steroids Can Lead to Infections
Many users of injectable anabolic steroids might exchange contaminated needles with other users or employ nonsterile injection methods. This puts PED and steroid users at risk of contracting potentially fatal viral illnesses, including HIV and hepatitis B and C.
Additionally, studies suggest that anabolic steroids depress the immune system, which may exacerbate infections.
Steroids affect the liver by increasing its workload and causing cell structure changes, leading to inflammation. Over time this can lead to scarring of the liver tissue resulting in cirrhosis or even liver failure if left untreated.
Misuse of steroids has also been linked to liver disease, tumors, and peliosis hepatis, a rare illness where the liver develops blood-filled cysts. The cysts might rupture, leading to internal bleeding and, in extreme circumstances, death.
Steroid use can result in cysts, oily skin, hair loss, acne, and head hair loss. Steroid users who inject themselves may also risk pain and abscess formation at the injected site.
PEDs and steroids can also cause jaundice or yellowing of the skin due to liver damage caused by steroids.
Mood disorder is a very common side effect of use. The most common mood disorder associated with steroid use is depression. In addition, steroid users may experience anxiety, aggression, irritability, violence, and anger.
Nervousness and insomnia are also common symptoms of steroid use. These symptoms can cause sleeplessness and make it difficult for an individual to work out the next day.
Steroid users may also experience changes in their libido and sexual behavior. They may feel less attracted to their partner or unable to perform sexually as well as they were before taking steroids.
Peds and steroid use have been linked to cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack, damage to arteries, and reduced function of the ventricles.
They influence the progression of coronary heart disease by increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and decreasing the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Low LDL and HDL levels increase the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty substances build up on artery walls and restrict blood flow. If this continues, it may lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Additionally, steroids raise the possibility of blood clots forming in blood vessels, which could impede blood flow and harm the heart muscle, making it less effective at pumping blood.
Why do Many People Take PED and Steroids
There are many reasons why athletes and bodybuilders choose to use performance-enhancing drugs and steroid substances in competition and training.
The most common reasons are to:
Improve Their Physical Appearance
PED and steroids can improve physical appearance by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat, helping users to look more attractive and confident. Steroids can accelerate the increase of muscle size and strength while training.
Increase Strength, Stamina, Endurance, Speed, and Power
Some people use steroids to improve stamina and endurance during exercise sessions at the gym, especially when it comes to cardio routines (like running or cycling).
Many athletes use these substances during competitions to enhance their athletic performance by increasing their power, endurance, speed and agility, which increases their chances of winning. Steroids allow users to push themselves harder during these activities without becoming tired or feeling like they need a break after a short time.
Fasten Recovery Times
Bodybuilder uses steroids to fasten recovery times after workouts or other physical activities such as lifting weights or exercising.
Other reasons why people take illegal substances are to build and promote muscle growth, build lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, and increase energy levels.
Long-Term Effects of Using PED and Steroids
The long-term effects of using PEDs and steroids can be devastating. They can cause serious health problems and even death. Steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs can cause several different health problems, including:
Steroids can cause a change in normal hormone levels in men and women. This can lead to, among other issues, decreased sex drive, infertility, hot flashes, and night sweats.
Hair loss is another common side effect when people take steroids to build muscle mass. This hair loss usually occurs on the head, back, and chest area. Hair loss may also appear on other body parts if you take anabolic steroids for prolonged periods.
Steroids can cause also acne. This happens when steroids boost natural oil production in your skin, making acne hard to heal. These substances also increase the risk of certain types of skin cancer.
Long-term steroid use has been linked to cardiovascular disease and other severe medical conditions. Steroids encourage the body to produce more testosterone, increasing bloodstream levels, and heart rate. This increase in heart rate can cause problems such as abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, kidney damage, stroke, or heart attack.
Steroids can cause mood swings in some users, while others report feeling depressed or aggressive after taking them for a prolonged period.
Some studies have found that testosterone therapy increases the risk of infertility in men who take it for more than four months. This is probably because testosterone causes testicles to shrink over time and inhibits sperm production in men.
Performance-enhancing drugs and steroids are dangerous to an athlete’s body as they can bring on serious health side effects such as heart disease, liver disorders, kidney damage, and much more.
Before you think of starting to try any PEDs to build muscle mass, and increase your performance, better check with a doctor that will consult you on all the health effects. Make sure any steroids ever taken are given by a licensed doctor. Doing them incorrectly can be very unsafe for your body.