Dubai: Doctors have warned against the use of Anabolic steroids as it can lead to male infertility espcially amongst athletes.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone that are commonyly used by body builders and weight lifters in gyms to gain muscle mass.
Doctors say that it is sad to note that an increased number of men are using anabolic steroids to get more muscle mass, increase their energy, and achieve a certain level of fitness, without fully knowing that these drugs can lead to infertility as a serious side effect.
The usage of anabolic steroids, they noted, is not limited to adults; even teenagers are making use of these drugs, which is an even bigger concern.
According to a recent study, men have a 90 per cent chance of becoming sterile because of these performance-enhancing drugs.
Dr Francisco Ruiz, Medical Director at IVI Fertility Clinic in Muscat, said: “Most of the users do not have the slightest hint that anabolic steroids have a detrimental effect on their overall health, including their ability to produce sperm.”
“These drugs can shrink their testicles, and may even cause prostate cancer, among other health problems. In terms of fertility, it is observed that the impact can be reversed if men stop taking the drugs for a year. However, there are some cases where the damage becomes irreversible, especially if the drugs are used in large doses for a long period,” he said in a statement sent to Gulf News.
It is quite alarming, he added that most of the anabolic steroid users are unaware of the danger that these drugs pose to their fertility level. “We need to raise awareness about the side effects of these steroids to facilitate an informed decision on the intake of these drugs,” he said.
Dr Ruize strongly recommended discontinuation of anabolic steroids all together to protect health and fertility of the users.
Why are anabolic steroids used
Anabolic steroids are normally used by men to raise their testosterone level, which results in increased muscle mass and improved muscle strength. The drugs, however, have a different impact on the testicles. The testicles’ testosterone production declines as a side effect, leading to the user having a decreased or even zero sperm count.
Furthermore, researchers have investigated the damage that anabolic steroids generate on the structure of the sperm cells, as well.
For infertility cases arising due to low sperm count in men, Dr. Ruiz recommends the Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment approach that has helped many patients facing male infertility issues.
This procedure involves extracting a sperm from a sample of semen, or by a testicular biopsy, to select the most appropriate sperm to fertilize the eggs. The ICSI method can be included as part of the couples’ In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment method.
What are Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids are synthetic, or human-made, variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. The proper term for these compounds is anabolic-androgenic steroids. “Anabolic” refers to muscle building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sex characteristics. Some common names for anabolic steroids are Gear, Juice, Roids, and Stackers.
Health care providers can prescribe steroids to treat hormonal issues, such as delayed puberty. Steroids can also treat diseases that cause muscle loss, such as cancer and AIDS.
Misuse of drugs by athletes
Some athletes and bodybuilders misuse these drugs in an attempt to boost performance or improve their physical appearance.
The majority of people who misuse steroids are male weightlifters in their 20s or 30s. Anabolic steroid misuse is much less common in women.
The 2016 NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future study has shown that past-year misuse of steroids has declined among 8th and 10th graders in recent years, while holding steady for 12th graders.
How do people misuse anabolic steroids?
People who misuse anabolic steroids usually take them orally, inject them into muscles, or apply them to the skin as a gel or cream. These doses may be 10 to 100 times higher than doses prescribed to treat medical conditions.
What are other health effects of Anabolic steroids
People who inject steroids increase their risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. Aside from mental effects, steroid use commonly causes severe acne. It also causes the body to swell, especially in the hands and feet.
Anabolic steroid misuse might lead to serious, even permanent, health problems such as:kidney problems or failure, liver damage and tumors, enlarged heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, even in young people
In men, it can cause shrinking of testicles, decreased in sperm count, baldness, development of breasts and increased risk for prostate cancer.
In women, it can cause growth of facial hair or excess body hair, decreased breast size, ale-pattern baldness, changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle and deepened voice.
In teens, it can lead to stunted growth (when high hormone levels from steroids signal to the body to stop bone growth too early) and stunted height (if teens use steroids before their growth spurt)
Some of these physical changes, such as shrinking sex organs in men, can add to mental side effects such as mood disorders.
(Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse)