It is estimated that there are more than 3 million steroid users in the United States alone with the only desire to increase muscle mass. However, very few know the actual effects they produce on the body or the risks associated with drug use for athletic enhancement.
The first thing to think about is what really happens to our body when we lift some weights. The answer is simple: the muscles suffer a few small breaks, although there is no problem in this, since the body recovers by forming new muscle fibers to replace the broken ones. Not only that, these new fibers increase in thickness and number, and if the synthesis of new proteins is greater than the loss of these, your muscles will grow.
In this case, the degree of growth is largely regulated by testosterone, which increases protein synthesis. For this reason, generally men possess more muscle mass than women by producing more testosterone.
As for steroids, when we talk about them, we talk about any compound with a tetracyclic structure base, and currently the term includes drugs used to treat fever and headaches, even sex hormones such as estrogen and Testosterone. However, the type of steroid we’re going to talk about mimics the natural mechanism of testosterone with the intention of improving athletic performance, steroids that are used by approximately 15% of gym users.
What happens when you use them?
On the first day of steroid use the expression of your genes begins to change. Steroids easily enter cells and bind to the androgen receptor. At this stage they can move towards the nucleus and adhere to DNA, activating hundreds of genes responsible for increasing protein synthesis and decreasing the rate at which existing ones break down.
As a result, steroid users will achieve a nuclear density of three to five times higher than normal in muscle cells. Steroids can also stop the differentiation of adipocyte precursors (cells responsible for storing energy in the form of fat), decreasing a person’s body fat.
In just a few days a rapid increase in muscle mass and strength is observed, also decreasing the degree of damage of muscle fibers, making steroids ideal for improving tolerance to exercise and recovery time.
However, continued use also modifies the behavior. This is because there are also steroid receptors in the central nervous system, such as in the prefrontal cortex, hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The effect on these receptors can lead to episodes of the so-called “steroid rage”.
In fact, a study in athletes using steroids showed a 20% higher incidence of manic-depressive episodes compared to individuals who did not use them. Even in steroid-treated mice for 10 weeks they became aggressive towards other mice placed in the same cages. In this case, male mice became more aggressive and willing to compete for sex with females.
But and this is very important, increasing the sex drive doesn’t always mean having better sex. For example, in women steroids can interfere with the estral cycle and may produce decreased sexual appetite. It can also lead to deepening of the voice and increased facial and body hair.
In men, they can develop sperm abnormalities and a low number of sperms. By the way, steroids also decrease the natural production of hormones needed to maintain testicular size, meaning that the testicles can shrink.
And as most steroids are administered cyclically, testosterone levels can be very low in some periods, which can lead to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido in men.
It has also been observed that up to 40% of male users show an increase in breast tissue, as some steroids are transformed into estradiol, which stimulates breast growth. Finally, they can also cause severe acne to appear in up to 50% of users and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
That said, yes, steroids will help you increase your muscles quickly and improve your athletic ability, but like almost everything that occurs in our body quickly and explosively, it can also produce adverse effects.
Consequences of Steroid Use
Maybe you’re thinking I’m motivating you to use steroids because I’ve only told you it’s the easy way to see how you want to be. But here comes the tricky part of steroids: the side effects. You can see in advertisements or in the competitions slender and perfect bodies, but inside their organisms are being destroyed, this is where you should evaluate whether it is worth having a muscular body for as little as 10 years or a little more in exchange for losing your health c in a number of diseases that in many cases cause death.