Anabolic Steroids Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

When anabolic steroids are abused, a range of side effects can happen, from minor drawbacks to dangerous or even fatal ones.

Each person will experience side effects differently. The body of the individual and several other variables influence the side effects.

If a user stops using the medicine, the majority of the negative effects will go away. Others, though, could be permanent or even fatal.

The negative effects might range from those that are physically noticeable (such as acne and hair loss) to those that are fatal and irreversible (such as heart attacks and liver damage).

Anabolic Steroids Side Effects

Numerous undesirable short-term effects of anabolic steroid use, such as the following, may occur in individuals who misuse and utilize anabolic steroids: hair fall, acne, and diarrhea.

Let’s have a look at their details-

  • Hair fall

    Anabolic steroids, which are a synthetic form of testosterone, can have a significant impact on your hair. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which harms hair follicles, will be produced in higher quantities in your body as a result of anabolic steroids.

    DHT binds to hair follicles and inflames them. These damaged hairs will eventually begin to fall out. This causes a severe loss of hair. You may also have an aggravation of seborrheic dermatitis as a result of increased DHT.

    Additionally, if a person already has a genetic propensity for balding, then using anabolic steroids can cause severe hair fall which ultimately will lead to baldness. Because anabolic steroids alter the body’s hormone levels, they only hasten the process.

  • Acne

    Your chances of getting severe, permanently scarring acne on your face and body are greatly increased by anabolic steroids. Although this type of acne can develop everywhere, the face, back, buttocks, and extremities are where it usually manifests.

    This is because anabolic steroids cause the androgen receptor to bind to the skin follicles, which causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum (skin oil). Increased skin oil may cause typical acne outbreaks.

    Anabolic steroid misuse can also worsen acne vulgaris, acne fulminans, or acne conglobate, which is frequently referred to as steroid-modified acne.

    Steroid-induced acne can cause a variety of blemishes, including whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, and nodules. These blemishes can also be inflamed, pus-filled, red or pink, and can present themselves as bumps or nodules.

  • Diarrhea

    Some persons who utilize anabolic steroids to a higher extent could get diarrhea. This is due to how the digestive system may be impacted by steroids.

    The microbes in your gut microbiome may change as a result of anabolic steroids, and your intestines may secrete more fluid as a result. Diarrhea may result from these side effects.

    Gastrointestinal problems can develop within the first few days of using anabolic steroids. However, if you stop taking your medication, your diarrhea will go away.

    In certain cases, diarrhea may even go better on its own even when being treated continuously with the same dosage.

    Anabolic steroids can be taken orally with food to lower the risk of diarrhea. You can also use anti-diarrhea pills, which are drugs that treat diarrhea.

Long Term Effects

Kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer are some long-term adverse side effects of anabolic steroid abuse. Let’s have a look at their details-

  • Kidney Disease

    Long-term usage of anabolic steroids can seriously injure the kidneys and even cause them to stop functioning.

    Anabolic steroids are known to cause hypernatraemia (excessive sodium in the blood), which is followed by an increase in hydrogen and potassium ion excretion from the urine, leading to hypokalemic alkalosis (the body lacking the normal amount of the mineral potassium).

    In the long run, each of these factors has the potential to cause serious kidney issues. It’s crucial to understand that overuse of anabolic steroids for a prolonged period of time—between eight and 20 years—will cause renal problems to manifest.

  • Liver Disease

    Since the liver is where anabolic steroid metabolism takes place most frequently, it is most vulnerable to being affected.

    Fatty liver disease brought on by toxicants, increased liver transaminases, major alterations in lipoproteins, and hepatic tumors is all signs of liver toxicity.

    The enzymes AST and ALT are the two that are most frequently increased in anabolic steroid users as indicators of liver damage. As the liver is harmed or inflamed, these enzymes will leak into the blood.

    In addition, long-term, high-dose anabolic steroid therapy has been linked to liver cancer and liver tumors. Even though these side effects are uncommon, they can be very serious and even fatal.

  • Cancer

    Even though most other steroids are typically used to cure cancer, abusing anabolic steroids can cause the disease.

    Some of the most common cancers that may develop over many years in anabolic steroid users include breast cancer, liver cancer, and testicular cancer.

    There are two ways that anabolic steroids can impact DNA transcription. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is created abundantly by anabolic steroids, can be used as a direct mechanism of action.

    Anabolic steroids are nothing more than the unusual production of testosterone, which has a detrimental impact on hormonal control and change and may even play a role in some cancer-promoting pathways.

Anabolic Steroid Side Effects In Men

Many men abuse anabolic steroids by taking them in amounts that are excessively high, which can lead to harmful side effects like-

  • Enlarged Breasts

    Gynecomastia, a painful condition caused by the growth of the breasts can occur in men who abuse anabolic steroids. If the issue persists after the abuse stops, surgery may be necessary.

  • Shrinking Testicles

    The testicles may permanently shrink if anabolic steroids are used for a long time to decrease testicular function. Even after these guys quit using anabolic steroids, the testicular function may not return or may only return partially.

  • Behavioral And Psychiatric Effects

    Men who use anabolic steroids illicitly frequently exhibit mood swings and undesirable violent conduct. The reverse anorexia syndrome, which affects many males, causes them to believe that their bodies are not as developed as they are.

  • Infertility Issues

    High levels of anabolic steroid administration can alter the reproductive system in men in ways that are either reversible or irreversible.

    A drop in testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone brought on by excessive use of anabolic steroids may stop the creation of sperm.

Anabolic Steroid Side Effects In Women

Many women who abuse anabolic steroids may experience harmful side effects like-

  • Facial Hair Growth And Excessive Body Hair

    On the body or face, anabolic steroids may promote excessive hair growth among women. This comprises the chin, chest, upper lip, and back.

    Androgens, a class of male hormones, are produced in high amounts in women due to anabolic steroid abuse. Large quantities of this hormone cause uncontrollable hair growth.

  • Swelling Of The Clitoris

    Clitoromegaly, which can occur when women take various dosages of androgenic steroids, refers to the huge growth of the clitoris. Some women’s clitoris might expand to the point where it resembles a “mini penis.”

  • Deepened Voice

    Because too much testosterone causes the development of male traits, a common adverse effect of anabolic steroids on females is a deeper voice.

    The larynx and the muscles involved in vocal production are affected by anabolic steroids. The intensity and amount of the anabolic steroids being utilized will determine how quickly these alterations happen.

  • Menstrual Issues

    The imbalance of the female body’s natural hormones and the body’s overproduction of testosterone both contribute to irregular menstruation by countering the production of estrogen.

    Less or more frequent menstruation, or even no menstruation in rare situations, can be signs of this disorder. Anabolic steroid users who are female may have irregular menstrual periods.


Non-medical uses of anabolic steroids include boosting lean muscle mass and developing endurance and power. This only functions when combined with specific exercise and diet plans.

Anyone utilizing anabolic steroids improperly runs the risk of suffering temporary and lasting harm. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable since their bodies are still changing.

You can get support and assistance from a medical professional if your use of anabolic steroids is having a negative impact on your health.

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