Sometimes, athletes take steroids to help them get a bigger “pump” and enhance the muscles that they’re training to grow, in addition to losing body fat. However, while one might like the way their body looks as a result of steroids, this isn’t only about aesthetics. Steroids are hormones that can trigger a wide range of dangerous side effects if an individual inappropriately uses them. In this blog, let’s talk about what steroids are, what they do, and specifically, how steroids can affect prostate health.
What are Steroids, Anyway?
First, it’s important that we differentiate between two types of steroids:
- Corticosteroids: Anti-inflammatory medicines that treat various conditions.
- Anabolic steroids: Used (often illegally) to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat.
In this blog, we will be focusing on the second type of steroid. Anabolic steroids are a manufactured form of testosterone that can come in pills, injections, topical creams or gels, or patches that an individual places on their skin.
Since the main active hormone in steroids is testosterone, anabolic steroids encourage the development of male characteristics — like building muscle mass (in addition to many other changes).
Let’s get into that next.
What Do Anabolic Steroids Do?
Anabolic steroids activate the androgen receptors in the body, which mimics the effects of naturally-produced androgens. There are various applications for these drugs. For instance, if someone naturally has lower testosterone levels, they can take prescription anabolic steroids to boost the hormone back to a normal level. Anabolic steroids can also lower an individual’s estrogen levels, which can be helpful in the case of breast cancer. Additionally, if someone is suffering from an illness or disease that causes muscle atrophy — like cancer or AIDS — anabolic steroids can improve muscle size and strength and help them maintain healthy body weight.
What’s the Downside of Steroids for Prostate Health?
There are safe applications for anabolic steroids, although they’re probably the exception to the rule. They should always be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional and according to the prescription instructions. However, some individuals use them irresponsibly in order to improve their body composition and aesthetics. As we mentioned earlier, this can cause a number of scary consequences (that can sometimes be irreversible), including a decline in prostate health.
One study found that steroids lead to changes in the human prostate gland, such as an increase in volume and a reduction in urine flow rate. Another study involving rats found that the use of anabolic steroids promoted structural changes in the prostate in terms of weight and volume.
The prostate has a big job to do. It helps make fluid for semen, which helps energize the sperm. Furthermore, semen protects sperm so that it can fertilize the egg and trigger conception. Supporting prostate health becomes increasingly important as men age and find themselves at an increased risk of prostate complications and health problems.
Other side effects of anabolic steroid misuse can include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Blood clots
- Damage to the arteries
- Liver tumors
- Male-pattern baldness
- Acne and cysts
- Decreased sperm production
- Testicular cancer
- Enlarged breasts
- Stomach pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Coarse skin
Plus, because individuals often inject steroids, sharing needles or using other non-sterile techniques can encourage the spread of infections like HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis B and C.
For women specifically, the use of anabolic steroids can lead to the loss of breast tissue, facial and body hair growth, a deeper voice, and problems with their menstrual cycle.
All of these downsides and undesirable side effects might be exacerbated by the fact that not only do some individuals use steroids illegally, but they take them in a manner that can be even riskier. Athletes have various methods for taking steroids, such as cycling, stacking, pyramiding, and plateauing. However, without the guidance of a medical professional, misuse is common. And, alarmingly, the doses taken by individuals can sometimes be 10 to 100 times higher than the doses used to treat actual medical conditions.
If someone is concerned that steroids may have impacted their prostate health, then a simple blood test can measure their free and total prostate-specific antigen (PSA). In other words, it’ll look at the proteins produced by the prostate gland. This can be helpful in the early detection of prostate cancer. eNational has more than 4,000 locations around the United States, a doctor’s note isn’t needed, and the results of the blood draw are available in one business day. Order a test online in a matter of minutes.
Can Steroids Ever Be Used Safely?
This is a tough question to answer. First, we want to reiterate that these are class C drugs, which means they’re only available by prescription. So, if an individual is using them without a doctor’s order, they’re breaking the law. Under the right circumstances, anabolic steroids can be used safely. Moreover, this can only be achieved with temporary/short-term use. Outside of these circumstances, the use of anabolic steroids should be completely avoided.
It’s also worth noting that in competitive sports, most organizations don’t allow the use of steroids, which is why they regularly test competitors. If a competitor tests positive, they can be suspended from competition and even permanently banned.
Drug Testing for Steroids
If you suspect that an athlete, employee, or loved one might be abusing anabolic steroids, US Drug Test Centers offers a variety of panels for steroid drug testing. Because steroids remain detectable for the longest period of time in the urine, urinalysis is the most common and reliable testing method. Our steroid testing panels can screen for drugs that include anabolic steroids, stimulants, narcotics, diuretics, and beta-blockers. You can order a test online in just a few clicks and visit any of our 20,000+ locations around the United States for this testing to be administered.
While it can be tempting to take shortcuts in order to achieve the dream body, the risks associated with anabolic steroid use make it a very unwise decision. The physical and mental health benefits can be deadly. That’s why it’s important to keep the workplace, gym, and family steroid free.