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What are Bodybuilding Steroids?

Article Details
  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Bodybuilding steroids are essentially man-made testosterone. They enhance the body's ability to grow and maintain muscle mass, making for a larger muscle mass. In the world of bodybuilding, a body that is symmetrical and has large muscles is ideal. When bodybuilders hit training plateaus, or when they want to reach levels that cannot be attain by lifting weights and training naturally, they may turn to bodybuilding steroids. However, many types of steroids are illegal in the United States and other countries, and there are myriad health issues associated with taking steroids.

Bodybuilding steroids are a synthetic version of the male hormone testosterone. The steroid works to build muscle by increasing the production of protein in the muscle. There are many variants of testosterones used in bodybuilding steroids. Some types are administered orally, while others are injected. While different countries have different stances on steroid use, the United States classifies many types of steroids as controlled substances. This means that trading, purchasing, or taking these types of steroids is treated as a felony.

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When training, bodybuilding steroids are often taken in cycles. This means that the athlete takes the drug for a certain amount of time — sometimes weeks or months — and stops for a period of time. The downtime allows the body to rest and remake some of its own testosterone, since the administering of the synthetic hormone can stop the body from producing its own. During an on cycle, the drug allows the bodybuilder to train harder and gain more muscle mass. The starting and ending of the cycles are often done slowly so as to prevent the body from going into shock.

While it is true that bodybuilding steroids can enhance a body's muscle building ability, there are several risks and dangers associated with the drug. Risks include increased aggressiveness, depression, mood swings, and physical problems. Oral drugs, which are some of the most common form of bodybuilding steroids, have to go through the digestive system. Steroids are a substance that the liver will try to filter out, and to counteract this, oral versions pack in a lot of testosterone so that some is left to do the work after the liver is through. The result is often an overworked liver and can result in liver damage, including the development of tumors.

Some of the other side effects of steroid include acne on the face, chest and back; an elevated cholesterol level and, in men, possible atrophy of the testicles. In addition, the increased levels of testosterone may cause an increased sex drive in men. In women, side effects can include a lower voice, facial hair, and permanent male pattern baldness. There is also a chance for clitoral enlargement. When a woman on steroids becomes aroused, this part of the female sex gland may protrude and look like a penis. The discontinuation of steroids may allow the clitoris to shrink slightly, but will not cause the effect to completely go away.

Taking bodybuilding steroids is something that should not be done without the advice of a healthcare professional. While some countries do allow these drugs to be traded legally, it is important that a person thinking about taking the drug do his research properly. Teenagers especially should not take steroids. While doctors can prescribe certain types of steroids for a variety of medical reasons, a normal teenager has more than enough hormones in his body. Steroid use can cause a myriad of health problems, and in many cases, the risks outweigh the perceived benefits.

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