Steroids Do Serious Damage to Your Testicles
You already know that you shouldn't be misusing anabolic steroids to increase your physical mass or strength because of the potential for serious health issues, including liver tumors, blood circulation issues and more. Do you need another reason to stay away and focus instead on an effective diet and exercise regimen to boost your physique? Steroids can also damage your testicles, potentially leading to infertility.
What are anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids are manmade synthetic hormones containing variations of testosterone, which is a male sex hormone.
While doctors can prescribe steroids for numerous reasons, such as treating hormone deficiencies or certain cancers, some people take anabolic steroids without a doctor's supervision to increase the size and strength of their muscles or improve athletic abilities. Some use steroids to temporarily improve their performance in the bedroom.
This unsupervised misuse of steroids can cause a variety of side effects and health conditions, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening. If you stop taking steroids, some of the harmful effects may be reversed, while others are permanent. It's important to note that steroid misuse may increase a man's chance of getting prostate cancer.
How do steroids affect my testicles?
Steroids can affect your testicles in numerous ways. People who misuse these hormones often take doses that are 10 to 100 times higher than those prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions.
As for your sexual health, misusing anabolic steroids can lead to the following problems in men:
- Shrinkage of the testicles
- Decreased sperm production
- Testicular cancer
Other side effects include cardiac problems such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots. Some men also experience kidney and tendon damage, acne and irreversible male-pattern baldness. In a perhaps ironic twist, in an attempt to achieve a more "masculine" body with steroids, men can experience an increase in their breast tissue, also called gynecomastia.
Teenagers who feel pressure to build their physique and decide to misuse steroids may experience stunted growth. Teens may not be thinking about their future family planning, so they're probably not aware that steroid misuse can decrease sperm production, thereby negatively impacting their fertility.
And steroids don't cause only physical problems. You've likely heard the term "roid rage," which refers to the increase in aggressive behavior caused by steroid misuse.
What are common steroid withdrawal symptoms?
Steroids can be addictive. Withdrawal symptoms often associated with stopping steroid misuse include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping problems
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Can I regain testicular function after steroid misuse?
The longer you misuse steroids and the higher dose you take, the lower your chance of regaining normal testicular and sexual functioning. Once you stop taking steroids, your body may not produce adequate levels of testosterone on its own. This warrants help from a doctor, who may suggest hormone replacement therapy to keep your testosterone levels in a normal, healthy range and help with fertility problems.
What are healthy alternatives to anabolic steroids?
You don't have to take anabolic steroids to improve muscle mass, strength and sexual functioning. Instead, try the following alternatives that don't negatively affect your testicles and the rest of your body:
The right combination of aerobic and strength-training exercise is the best way to build muscle and strength, without risking negative impacts to your overall and sexual health.
Consuming plenty of protein, carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats can enhance muscle growth and athletic performance. Aim to eat protein-rich foods (chicken, eggs, lean meat and fish), vegetables, fiber-rich starches and nutritious fats at each meal. You might also find that three servings of dairy (or dairy alternatives such as almond milk) and a few servings of fruit each day help you achieve your nutritional goals. You can also speak to your doctor or a nutritionist about setting healthy calorie and nutrition goals for your physical activity level.
When men want to combat decreased muscle mass and energy levels as a result of aging, they may want to speak to their doctor about low testosterone levels, also known as low-T or hypogonadism. Testosterone levels naturally decrease with age, especially if you're older than 40. If you struggle with ED, other sexual problems, decreased muscle mass or fatigue, check in with your doctor to see if you actually suffer from low-T.
If that's the case, you may be a candidate for testosterone therapy, though the process comes with both risks and benefits. Your provider can give you a prescription and monitor hormone levels to ensure they stay within a healthy range. You might use injections, subdermal pellets, gels or patches to reduce unpleasant symptoms of low-T.
The potential short-term aesthetic benefits of misusing steroids to pack on muscles don't outweigh the damage to your physical and sexual health. Use natural methods instead so you can enjoy a healthier life without the serious damage to your testicles and other parts of your body.