Steroids have got a pretty bad rep and perhaps fairly so; they enlarge the heart, mess up our hormones and cause acne and mood disorders. However people continue to use it so there must be some positive effects of steroids. A reasoned approach then should look at both the pros and cons of these controversial substances and come to a decision that way as to whether they should be used.
Before we can appreciate the positive effects of steroids we need to understand how they work. Essentially then, steroids are either natural of synthetic compounds that help regulate various bodily functions. When we refer to steroids however we generally are referring to anabolic steroids. These are synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of anabolic and androgenic hormones such as testosterone and are known by many names including ‘juice’ and ‘roids’ and someone who is using steroids can so be said to be ‘juicing’. Anabolic steroids can be taken orally as a pill or powder or commonly via an injection which has certain advantages for the user. This makes marks along an individual’s forearms a good indicator that they may be using steroids.
This in turn means that the user will experience the effects of testosterone to a higher degree which accounts for both the positive effects of steroids and the negative. Among other things the positive effects of steroids include increased muscle mass, tissue repair, endurance and fat loss. Someone who is using steroids will find that they experience greatly exaggerated benefits from their workouts and can inches on their biceps quickly. Additionally, ‘site location’ can be used to inject the steroid directly into the particular muscle that the individual wants enlarged, allowing them to pick and choose their muscle distribution and aid in lagging muscles.
Someone who is on steroids will experience increased physical performance in all sports and athletic pursuits and will also appear more physically imposing – these being the main positive effects of steroids and the reason that many athletes and civilians use them. Used in small amounts steroids may also have certain health benefits and can be used to prevent swelling of organs such as the kidneys as well as muscle wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy. Steroids and other steroid like substances may also be used to improve bone density meaning they could help with conditions such as osteoporosis.
There are also other positive effects of steroids however that are more side effects rather than main effects, and others that some people might find to be beneficial while others would not. As testosterone is the ‘male’ hormone, it can help with many traits generally associated with ‘maleness’. This may be useful for someone who feels they are overly feminine or would like to be more imposing.
For example, steroids can increase facial and pubic hair, it can deepen the voice and it can improve drive, ambition and focus. Those considered ‘alpha’ males are those who have large amounts of testosterone and so supplementing with anabolic steroids will help you to develop some of these traits. Those who feel their voice is small and week, or are overly baby faced can feel embarrassment and experience social withdrawal as a result. For these reasons these can be considered positive effects of steroids. On the other hand, for women, or men who already produce a lot of testosterone naturally they may be considered to be some of the negative effects of steroids.
One other area that can be positively effected by steroids is sex drive, and one of the most… potentially enjoyable… positive effects of steroids is increased arousal and sexual performance. This obviously has a lot of appeal for those with a reduced sex drive or those who are getting older, though it can also be distracting to be aroused at inappropriate times.
So with all those positive effects of steroids, is it worth taking them? Well in order to answer that we need to look at the negative effects of steroids. First of all, to counteract the aesthetic effects of increased facial hair and a booming voice you have acne and greasiness as your testosterone production reaches similar levels to those it achieved at puberty. More seriously though is the potential to grow breasts for men when taking certain forms of anabolic steroid. The reason for this is that the additional testosterone can aromatize into oestrogen – the female hormone – and so give you more feminine features. Not only is that going to ruin any aesthetic effects of steroids, but will also probably ruin the enhanced sexual performance for men too – unless your girlfriend is a lesbian. What will ruin your sex life even more though is the shrunken testicles that can result from steroid use as your body stops produces as much testosterone naturally to compensate for the extra chemicals you’re inserting.
And the additional mental drive and focus? Well these positive effects of steroids are ruined too by the negative effects of steroids have on the brain, including the severe bouts of anger, rage and potentially depression that resulted in the term ‘roid rage’. Some users even report hallucinations, and the headaches and vomiting that can also occur will do little to lighten your mood. On top of this you can also expect to experience premature balding, joint pain, diarrhoea, insomnia and jaundice. At this point few positive benefits of steroids will seem worth it. The real problem with using steroids though is the more serious health risks they carry. These include enlarged organs such as the heart (as the heart is a muscle) which can cause a heart attack along with other circulatory system conditions including blood clots, heart disease or strokes. Furthermore steroids are illegal meaning you’ll get no quality control on what you’re injecting into your system (are you really stupid enough to inject something into your veins that was probably purchased from a back alley?) and you’ll face a serious penalty should you get caught. This will also force you to lie and hide your activities from your friends and family – and probably to cover up the nasty marks you cause in your own arm. So in conclusion the positive effects do not outweigh the negative.
An important additional note is to recognise that the steroids prescribed by doctors for illnesses – corticoids – are separate and distinct from anabolic steroids which share none of their benefits.
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