Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When Bodybuilding and Steroids Go Too Far

Right or more often the case wrong, athletes have been taking anabolic steroids since the early 1960’s. Many competitive bodybuilders go to excess in taking steroids in order to compete citing that ‘extreme sports require extreme measures,’ using a plethora of various forms for different effects — one might increase muscle hardness while another will improve mass, strength or endurance — thus becoming human walking chemistry sets.

Synthetic anabolic steroids are potent medications designed to mimic the function of testosterone which can even perform better at promoting muscle growth than equivalent levels of testosterone.

Often coined as being juiced or juiced up amongst those who use the drugs, some say “steroids are as American as Apple Pie.”

Hazards of Steroids for Men and Women
While it’s not as common to suffer critical or life-threatening effects, steroids are far from safe, causing potentially harmful side-effects with some being irreversible.

Both genders can experience increased acne on the face, chest and back.

Depending on the drug, anabolic steroids can cause a person’s behavior can change with increased aggression and irritability. Some of this aggression has caused people to commit armed robbery, use force to obtain something, and physical fighting. This would not happen to a naturally calm person but someone who is naturally aggressive would become more aggressive by taking steroids.

Anabolic steroids have also been known to cause behavioral effects including euphoria, increased energy, sexual arousal, mood swings, distractibility, forgetfulness, and confusion.

Bad side-effects on blood pressure and the cardiovascular system can cause heart attacks, enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle and people younger than 30 to develop Cardiovascular disease.

Blood chemistry can change causing blood clots in the blood vessels and potentially disrupt the blood flow, damaging the heart muscle so it doesn’t pump blood effectively. Heart disease can develop because it affects the cholesterol levels — over a period of time the cholesterol builds up and clogs the arteries. Steroids affect the heart only if you have a heart disease to begin with, so it’s very wise to stay away from them if you have a heart problem.

Anabolic steroids are especially dangerous for teenagers, interfering with the normal effect of hormones on a growing body, and premature development of the epiphysis — the end of the bone — resulting in stunted growth.

Steroids can be taken orally, by injection, with gels, patches and nasal sprays. For the squeamish afraid of needles, it’s not possible to get a doctor to inject you since steroids are illegal, so some resort to the oral method which has the greatest number of side effects.

They have to pass through the digestive system and the liver in order to get into the bloodstream, so they’re designed to survive the process, and require large amounts to ensure that there’s enough left afterwards to have an effect.

The liver’s job is to remove such substances from the body which puts a great deal of strain on the liver and can result in significant liver damage and tumors which in turn can cause internal bleeding.

Some oral steroids can cause stomach distention — the lower abdomen becomes irritated and swollen, you can experience chronic constipation, water retention, and intestinal gas — the latter of which is not pretty if you want to keep your friends.
Taken in high doses, steroids can also develop jaundice, peliosis hepatitis, and cancer.

Injected steroids are put directly into the blood stream, making them far easier on your liver, but there is much concern over safe injection practices.

Depression is further aggravated if and when steroid use stops with rebound causing extreme depression, fatigue, apathy, and the likes.

Steroid Hazards for Men
Men can experience a short-term increase in the sex drive, followed by a suppression of natural testosterone output and potential shrinkage of the testes.

They can lower sperm count thus making men infertile, as well as develop gynecomastia — deposits of estrogen in the area of the nipple which can also grow breasts.

Steroid Hazards for Women
A very dangerous irreversible side-effect for women is masculinization due to the effects of testosterone and androsterone, including deepening of the voice, menstrual irregularities, development of facial and back hair, clitoral enlargement and even male-pattern baldness.

As one man reported to BodyBuilding of his former 3-year relationship with a woman who used steroids, “After my girlfriend made her decision to juice it up, with me as an up-close personal witness to all of her transformations during this time, it changed my mind about women on the juice forever. I saw her go from a hot hard body to a bloated, mental mess.” says Josh.

“My girlfriends’ skin became course and dry; a lot of her hair fell out while it grew on her face, her chest, and down her butt; her voice dropped three octaves; her nose grew; her jaw widened; she got spaces between her teeth; she got acne all over her chest, across her shoulders, and down her back, and she stopped having her period.”

Rampant hair growth is an irreversible side-effect, sprouting up on the chin, chest, around the nipples, and the buttocks — particularly the lower inner glutes and around the anus.

“The first thing you’ll notice if you take up with a juiced chick is her heightened level of aggression. When a woman’s aggression is initiated by testosterone, the result can sometimes get ugly.”

In another irreversible side effect of clitoral enlargement from androgen use, he saw his girlfriend’s grow to be 2 inches long and as big around as his small finger. When a woman in this condition becomes aroused, her clitoris becomes erect and sticks out just like a man’s penis, complete with a little head and all.

While the condition isn’t harmful, many women get vaginal discharge, but it will cease once the drugs are stopped.

Another bothersome yet temporary condition for the juiced up woman is the increase of body odor. Josh recalls lying in bed nestled in each other’s arms after some particularly torrid sex that made him wonder if he was sharing the bed with an entire soccer team after a world championship.

Honorable mention goes out to champion female bodybuilder, Lenda Murray, from the US, as the world’s most successful female bodybuilder to date — an 8-time winner of the Ms. Olympia title, the highest achievement in professional female bodybuilding.

The Wrap-up on Steroids
Unlike training for other sports, the goal in bodybuilding is to achieve a certain appearance. For competitive bodybuilders, strength itself is not as important as size, symmetry and definition.

Steroids do give the advantage over other athletes as it helps to train with a higher intensity and for longer periods, and can speed up recovery time for the stress on the muscles.

A popular way to take steroids is by cycling, starting the dosage at very small amounts and increasing the dosage weekly, then decreasing it over a 6 to12 week period. Bodybuilders then train without the drugs for 4 weeks and repeat the cycle all over again.

Perhaps the worst mistake most steroid users make is to become steroid abusers. It’s very common to overuse steroids which results in a wide range of health problems, some of which you will be living with for life.

It’s critical when considering taking steroids to do as much research as possible.
Special thanks to my friend Rick for the inspiration by sending some of the photos.

more raw photos...