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What problems can using illegal anabolic steroids cause?

Anabolic steroids can cause serious side effects. Some of these effects can be permanent.

  • In men, anabolic steroids can:
    • Reduce sperm count.
    • Shrink the testicles.
    • Cause you not to be able to father children.
    • Enlarge the breasts.
  • In women, anabolic steroids can:
    • Increase body hair.
    • Make skin rough.
    • Decrease breast size.
    • Enlarge the clitoris.
    • Deepen the voice.
  • In both men and women, anabolic steroids can cause:
    • High blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.
    • Higher levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
    • Liver disease and possibly liver cancer. The chance of these problems is higher when steroids are taken as a pill.
    • Oily skin, acne, and male-pattern hair loss.
    • Skin infections that can become severe if the drug was tainted with bacteria.
    • Irritability, rage, aggression, violence, uncontrolled high energy (mania), false beliefs (delusions), and addiction.

Teens who take illegal anabolic steroids are at risk for the same problems as adults who use them. Also, bone growth in teens may stop before it is complete. The teen may not reach his or her full adult height.

People who use anabolic steroids on a routine basis can have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them. Symptoms include having depression, being extremely tired, and having no desire to eat.

How is anabolic steroid misuse identified?

Your doctor may ask questions about your fitness activities and what kinds of dietary supplements and other substances you use. The doctor may do a physical exam and order urine and blood tests.

How is it treated?

Treatment for misuse of anabolic steroids has not been studied much. Doctors usually advise:

  • Treatment in a program that includes medicines for withdrawal symptoms and other health problems.
  • Family and social support.
  • Individual or family counseling.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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