Steroids : Pumping Up The Issue
Some guys have all the luck,
Some guys have all the pain
Some guys get all the breaks
Some guys do nothing but complain
– Rod Stewart
There may be some truths in the lyrics of Rod Stewart’s hit song “Some Guys Have All The Luck”. Whether they admit it or not, guys sometimes compare themselves with other guys especially in certain settings, such as the locker room. Time in a locker room can be challenging. It is a place where you can actually separate the boys from the men, at least, in terms of their physical development. Guys are stereotyped to be tough and shouldn’t place much concern with their appearance. Vanity is a girl’s issue.
But it’s natural to observe friends and classmates, and notice the different ways they’re growing and developing. And the reality is that a lot of guys do spend plenty of time surveying themselves in front of the mirror. It doesn’t matter whether they have reed thin bodies, or buffed like Clark Kent. The truth is, some guys care just as much as girls do about their appearance. But unlike girls, most guys are less likely to talk to their friends or relatives about how their bodies are developing. A guy may suddenly develop a negative self-image when he sees that all his friends have already matured physically, are taller, and more muscular. Guys who feel that they don’t measure up with their peers as far as body image is concerned may feel pressured and may resort to using steroids to speed up the development of their physique without taking into consideration its side effects.
The human body produces natural steroids to fight stress and promote growth and development. However, there are some people, mostly athletes, who use steroid pills, gels, creams, or injections to improve their physique or their performance. Steroids, sometimes referred to as ‘roids, juice, hype, weight trainers, gym candy, arnolds, stackers, or pumpers, are the same as, or similar to, certain hormones in the body.
Anabolic steroids are artificially produced hormones similar to androgens, the male-type sex hormones in the body. The most powerful androgen is testosterone. Testosterone is mainly a mature male hormone which promotes the masculine traits that develop during puberty, such as deepening of the voice and growth of body hair. Testosterone levels has an effect in the aggressiveness of a person. This is the reason why some athletes take anabolic steroids because of their testosterone-like effects. They stimulate muscle tissue to grow and “bulk up” in response to training by mimicking the effect of naturally produced testosterone on the body. Anabolic steroids can remain in the body anywhere from a couple of days to about a year. The popularity of this substance is due to the improved endurance, strength, and muscle mass for its users. However, there is no research study to substantiate these claims.
Another group of steroids called steroidal supplements contains dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and/or androstenedione (also known as andro). They used to be found at health food stores or gyms but are now considered controlled substance and require a prescription. However, DHEA is one of the few exceptions and can still be bought over the counter.
The effects of steroid supplements are not well known. They are considered weaker forms of androgen but when taken in large doses, they cause effects similar to other androgens like testosterone. However, it’s been known that companies manufacturing steroids supplements often use false claims with very little known long-term effects on the body. For this reason, the government passed laws controlling steroid distribution to protect the general public.
Anabolic steroids cause many different types of problems. Some of the more serious or long-lasting side effects are:
l premature balding or hair loss
l mood swings, including anger, aggression, and depression
l seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
l extreme feelings of mistrust or fear (paranoia)
l problems sleeping
l nausea and vomiting
l high blood pressure that can damage the heart or blood vessels over time
l aching joints
l greater chance of injuring muscles and tendons
l jaundice or yellowing of the skin; liver damage
l urinary problems
l shortening of final adult height
l increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer
Specific risks for girls associated with anabolic steroids include:
l increased facial hair growth
l development of masculine traits, such as deepening of the voice, and loss of feminine body characteristics, such as shrinking of the breasts
l enlargement of the clitoris
l menstrual cycle changes
Specific risks for guys include:
l testicular shrinkage
l pain when urinating
l breast development
Serious psychological side effects of steroids may result to aggressiveness or combative attitude, extreme, uncontrolled bouts of anger caused by long-term steroid use. Steroids injections can place the person at risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, if they share needles with other users. Dirty needles pose greater risk for contracting hepatitis or bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. So, do not envy other guys whose muscles are well-developed than yours. Not everyone’s body changes at the same time or even at the same pace. Working out in a gym is still the best way to pump up those muscles without the possible risks steroids may bring. Most guys will eventually catch up in terms of physique development. However, some guys will remain to be taller or well-built. It could be in the genes.