by Ed Barillas, Staff Writer
If you only look at steroids through the lens of the mainstream media, the bad effects of AAS are an absolute certainty. These reports on the potential side effects of steroids are enough to scare the average person away from using these supplements. But it is important to note that the majority of the scary outcomes and the anabolic horror stories we read about come from steroid abuse by those who are uneducated, in a damn hurry, ignorant, or just plain disrespectful of the dangers of the powerful hormones. Remember, these are powerful drugs and to think anyone, even the most careful of users, is immune from the potential side effects of anabolic steroids is naive.
One of the biggest interests to athletes interested in building muscle and improving performance are those anabolic steroids, which have been tailored to produce the most anabolic effects while reducing androgenic effects. It is not possible to eliminate androgenic effects entirely androgenic effects are basically anabolic effects happening in sex-based tissue. The science has come a long way in synthesizing anabolic steroids to minimize the androgenic affects, although the bodybuilding steroids that produce the greatest anabolic effects still also produce the most undesirable side effects.
Sex side effects
The disruption of the natural hormone state in men can produce the following ill side effects – breast development (gyno), accelerated male-pattern baldness, decreased sex drive, testicle shrinking and reduced sperm counts – to name a few. And while men may experience feminization, women may experience a masculinization with side effects including – facial hair, deepened voice, menstrual cycle changes, male-pattern baldness, breast reduction and clitoris enlargement.
Health side effects
Both of these sexes also put themselves at increased risk for – liver disease (cysts and cancer, skin disease (acne and cysts), cardiovascular disease (strokes and heart attacks), psychological effects such as depression and/or aggression. This is of course not a complete list as there are many other ill side effects from steroids to look out for.
There are a lot of these negative effects that can be reversed with cessation of use but others can be permanent. And with any drug or supplement, a person’s unique body make-up will mean the susceptibility to these side effects, as well as the response to the desired effects, will vary by individual.
Since steroids makers have advanced the design of bodybuilding steroids and due to research as well as trial and error, steroid use today can be a lot safer than it was ages ago and through the practices of cycling and stacking, which is the simultaneously taking more than one type of anabolic steroid with another in an attempt to enhance the positive or offset the negative effects and other issues, many people are able to get some of the benefits of bodybuilding steroids while limiting the undesirable side effects.
Lowering the risks of AAS
Using steroids is a definite two-way street. There are the positive effects that make you stronger, faster, better and there are also the negative effects that can make you sick, loose hair, sex drive, etc. And both these effects can last a long time – even after stopping steroid use. So if your thinking about doing a cycle, it would be a good idea for you to know well ahead of time how to avoid and or minimize the potential side effects that you may get from your steroid cycle. Of course, the type of drugs you are running during the cycle and the dosages will make a big difference as to what side effects you are at risk for. Also, each person is different and what side effects and what degree he/she experiences them will depend greatly just on the individual and his/her body.
To start off with, one of the most common side effects can be the development of female breasts, a condition called gynocomastia (also known as bitch tits). This is an awful side effect for a man to have and walk around with. This basically happens when fatty tissue build up around the nipple which makes the nipples puffy or starts to form the man’s pectoral muscles into what looks more like breasts. This, of course, can be traumatizing but it is fairly easy to control and avoid as long as you are prepared ahead of time. You should always have Nolvadex on hand if you are going to cycle and enough of it to run for the whole cycle because if you take Nolvadex at the first sign of gyno, which is an itchy or sore nipples sensation, you will prevent it from getting any worse and stop it in it’s tracks usually within a few days. Normally you would take about 40mg every day until the symptoms stop, and then continue with 20mg every day for the rest of the cycle. You must also know how to, and follow through with, proper Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) or you may get gyno.
You should keep hormone levels as steady as possible (inject more often and do proper PCT) to prevent acne. Also, shower immediately after your workout and keep your skin as clean as possible. This basically means washing your face with a gentle face wash (not soap) at least a couple times a day. Also, be sure to change your sheets often, and never wear a shirt after you have perspired in it. There are over the counter acne creams that will help and can be very effective depending on how bad the acne is. So be sure to try those before moving up to any kind of prescription acne med.
Stretch marks are common for most people who use AAS. This occurs because they are growing fast and the skin can’t stretch quickly enough to keep up. Be sure to use vitamin E cream on the major spots such as the pec tie ins, tris, upper inner quad and so on. This will help to keep the elasticity of the skin fluid. Also, taking a vitamin E supplement has been said to aid.
Avoid cholesterol issues
Other effects will be aimed at your cholesterol levels, as it is common for users to experience changes in their cholesterol levels. Bad cholesterol goes up while on cycle and can stay that way for a long time afterwards. It is important to keep your good cholesterol up as well to keep your risk ratio down – simply doing cardio can do this. To bring down your high bad cholesterol you can use flax seed and/or red yeast rice pills.
Avoid high blood pressure
High blood pressure is another thing to look out for as this is most common when using drugs that cause a lot of water retention, however it should definitely be monitored closely no matter what drugs you are taking or even if you have no noticeable water retention. Be sure to check your blood pressure regularly as this is important, and if it is high you can try to bring it down several different ways. Cardio of course will help. Also avoid eating too much sodium, or taking in too much caffeine or alcohol. Adding an anti-estrogen can also help since it should bring down the water retention and help combat further water retention.
As far as long-term side effects, well, no one can for sure tell you what these may be. But there is one thing I am sure of – getting your blood work done regularly is the best way to protect yourself from harsh long-term side effects in the future.
Be sure to drink lots of water as this helps cleanse your system and keeps you healthy. Also, many people while on steroids take supplements such as Milk Thistle to protect their liver especially when taking oral steroids.
Take this advice for what its worth and if you monitor yourself you should be fine. Be sure to use this advice before starting your first cycle. Ignore it and you will have no one to blame but yourself.