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What Are the Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids?

A. Pasbjerg
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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People who use anabolic steroids, particularly those who abuse them for purposes of muscle development and performance enhancement, may develop a variety of side effects. Steroid use can be very hard on all of the body's systems, making users prone to serious health issues such as blood clots, heart disease, and liver problems. Men can develop shrunken testicles and enlarged breasts, while women may notice enlargement of the clitoris and loss of body fat. Psychological side effects of anabolic steroids can include extreme aggression, mania, and hallucinations. Other problems associated with steroid use include cosmetic problems like acne and oily skin, tendon ruptures, and overgrowth of bone.

Some of the side effects of anabolic steroids can be very serious and even life-threatening. Users may develop high blood pressure and heart disease, and be prone to heart attacks or strokes. They can be likely to get blood clots. Steroids are particularly hard on the liver, often causing issues like cancer or liver failure.

Due to the fact that they mimic the effects of the hormone testosterone, another of the possible side effects of anabolic steroids is changes in sexual characteristics. Men's testicles may shrink and their sperm count can decrease, leading to problems with fertility; they may also experience gynecomastia, or breast development. Women may lose body fat to the point where they have little to no breast tissue, their clitoris may get larger, and their menstrual periods may stop. Other issues related to hormonal effects include development of extra facial and body hair as well as deepening of the voice in women and increased chance of developing baldness in men.

Anabolic steroids can have serious psychological side effects as well. Some users may become extremely irritable and aggressive, while others can become manic and more likely to engage in risky behaviors because they feel invincible. In certain cases, people taking steroids have been known to become delusional and even have hallucinations.

There are several other side effects of anabolic steroids that can also occur. Oily hair is common in people taking steroids, as are skin problems like acne and cysts. The fast muscle growth associated with steroid use can be very hard on the tendons that connect them to the bones, so tendon ruptures are quite common. Anabolic steroids not only increase muscle growth, they also stimulate bone growth; this can lead to issues like bulging of the forehead and splaying of the teeth.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Jun 22, 2013

I just started an anabolic steroid cycle and I'm getting acne like I'm in high school! I was not expecting this!

By donasmrs — On Jun 21, 2013

@burcinc-- I've never felt dependent on steroids while on them, but I did experience psychological side effects.

I had more motivation to work out while on steroids, but they also made me moody and angry. My mom hated it when I was on steroids. She would say that I become unbearable.

By burcinc — On Jun 21, 2013

I'm writing a paper on anabolic steroids and its side effects. I haven't been able to find any information on steroids and addiction.

Is addiction an anabolic steroid side effect? Does it make the the person physically or psychologically dependent on it?

If you have experience with steroids, can you please share your opinion on this?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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