What Are The Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroid Misuse?

When it comes to substance abuse, there are a lot of substances individuals can get addicted to. One of them is anabolic steroids.

You might have heard athletes and individuals who are into developing an attractive physique often turn to steroids as one of their health supplements. What you might not know is that an individual can get addicted to steroids.

Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroid

Just like any other addictive substance, anabolic steroids also bring a lot of harmful effects to the body and mind of the individual. A trusted Houston drug rehab center suggests that early treatment and stopping the misuse of steroids can also reverse their effects.

Here in this article, we will talk about the effects of anabolic steroids.

Possible Health Consequences Of Anabolic Steroid Misuse

When anabolic steroids are misused, the individual can experience various types of side effects. Those effects can be mild or even life-threatening. If the individual stops taking drugs, most of the effects can be reversed.

At the same time, there are some effects that are semi-permanent or permanent.

Instead of formal epidemiological studies, most of the data on anabolic steroids’ long-term effects in humans come from case reports. Life-threatening and serious adverse effects might be underreported, as they might occur many years later.

A review has found around 19 deaths in published case reports that are completely related to anabolic steroid use from 1990 to 2012. There are a lot of users who also use other drugs along with anabolic steroids. As a result, it becomes challenging to show that anabolic steroids have caused the deaths.

In an animal study, a male mouse was exposed to steroids for one-fifth of its lifespan. The doses were similar to the ones that were taken by the athletes. Early deaths of the male mouse have been seen in the study.

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Here is a brief on the side effects of anabolic steroids:

Cardiovascular system

  • Artery damage.
  • Stroke
  • Heart attacks.
  • Blood clots.
  • High blood pressure.


  • Hepatitis


  • Tumors
  • Peliosis hepatis.

Musculoskeletal system

  • Tendon injury.
  • Short stature.

Hormonal System (Men)

  • Testicle cancer.
  • Shrinking of the testicles.
  • Enlarged breasts.
  • Decreased sperm production.

Hormonal System (Women)

  • Male-pattern baldness.
  • Excessive body hair growth.
  • Coarse skin.
  • Decreased breast size.
  • Voice deepening.


  • Abscess at the injection site.
  • Oily skin and scalp.
  • Severe acne and cysts.
  • Psychiatric effects

The Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroid Misuse — In Details

Although we have mentioned the side effects of using anabolic steroids, here is a complete discussion about each of them.

Effect No. 1: Cardiovascular System

Steroid use has been connected with decreased function of the ventricles of the heart, high blood pressure, along with some cardiovascular diseases, for example, strokes, artery damage, and heart attacks.

Even an athlete under the age of 30 can experience all these things. By decreasing the level of HDL or high-density lipoprotein and increasing the level of LDL or low-density lipoprotein, steroids become the reason for developing cardiovascular diseases.

Low HDL and high LDL accelerate the risk of atherosclerosis. This is a particular condition where fatty substances get deposited inside the arteries. As a result, the blood flow gets disrupted.

In case the blood is prevented from reaching the brain or heart, the individual can get a stroke or heart attack respectively.

On the other hand, steroids also increase the risk of blood clots that are formed in the blood vessels and potentially disrupt the flow of blood and damage the heart muscles. As a result, the heart fails to pump blood effectively.

Effect No. 2: Liver

You might be surprised to know that steroid misuse has been associated with the following:

Peliosis hepatis is a rare condition in which blood-filled cysts usually form in the liver. All those cysts could rupture, causing internal bleeding and, in rare cases, even death.

Effect No. 3: Hormonal System

If an individual is using steroids for a longer time, the normal production of hormones in the body also gets disrupted. The individual will experience a number of changes, which also can be reversed with proper treatment. They are:

  • Decreased function of the tests, or hypogonadism.
  • Decreased sperm production.
  • Low testosterone levels.
  • Testicular atrophy or shrinking of the testicles.

There are also some irreversible changes that include;

  • Male-pattern baldness.
  • Breast development in men, or gynecomastia.

Anabolic steroids might also affect the hormone system in order to increase the risk of testicular cancer, particularly when steroids are being used in combination with insulin-like growth factors.

Anabolic steroids cause masculinization in females. To be really specific, breast size along with body fat decreases, the voice deepens, and the skin becomes coarse. Also, women might experience loss of scalp hair while excessive growth of body hair.

With continued usage of steroids, some of these effects become irreversible.

Effect No. 4: Skin

Steroid misuse also can be the reason behind excessive acne, cysts, oily skin and hair, and hair loss on the head. Individuals who are into steroid injections might also develop pain along with abscess formation at those injection sites.

Another harmful effect of anabolic steroids is jaundice. As a result, the yellowing of eyes and skin can be experienced. Eventually, it also damages the liver.

Effect No. 5: Infections

A lot of individuals who prefer to inject anabolic steroids might use non-sterile injection techniques or might also share contaminated needles along with others. So, they become exposed to the risk of acquiring some life-threatening viral infections, for example, hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Plus, animal models also indicate that anabolic steroids are also responsible for suppressing the immune system. It can worsen infections.

Effect No. 6: Musculoskeletal System

The rising level of testosterone, along with other sex hormones, generally triggers the growth spurt, which happens during the time of adolescence and puberty. These rising levels of testosterone also give signals in order to stop growth.

When an adolescent or a child takes anabolic steroids, the sex hormone level gets artificially high. This particular condition might prematurely signal the bones to stop growing.

There is proper evidence that shows weightlifters who misuse anabolic steroids usually tend to have stiffer tendons. It eventually increases the risk of tendon injury.