Used over a prolonged period of time, steroids have been known to cause unwanted adverse effects to the user. Documented long term side effects of steroids in the society have been a major cause of concern leading to more control on the dispensation and utilization of steroids. The negative effects of steroid use touch on different aspects of a user’s life. Some of them are physical while others are mental or psychological.
Physical Effects of Long Term Steroid Use
Steroids have been partly blamed for ill health that affects users of these substances who engage in the practice for extended periods. In men, steroids have been known to contribute greatly to male infertility in users by causing regression of gonads. This is because steroids mimic the male hormone testosterone and hence reduces the production of this vital male hormone by the body, leading to testicular atrophy and consequently a reduction in sperm count which ultimately causes secondary infertility. Moreover, an increase in the occurrence of breast cancer has been partially attributed to enlarged breast tissue in males. Long term steroid use is also a risk for development of prostate cancer, a type of cancer affecting males.
Female users are not spared either, with some women having reported overgrowth of body hair in areas such as the face and trunk, something expected only in men. Other women develop male characteristics such as a deepened voice and baldness.
Different body organs are also affected negatively by steroid use. For instance, the heart becomes larger than normal hence affecting its function. Additionally, an increase in the incidence of stroke and heart attacks in users has been associated with a rise in levels of bad cholesterol.
Teens who start abusing steroids while still young also experience unwanted effects. One of these is arrested growth due to premature closure of growth plates resulting in short stature in adulthood.
Psychological Effects of Prolonged Steroid Consumption
Unregulated and unjustifiable use of steroids causes psychological problems to users and by extension to the immediate family. Substance dependence is one of the outcomes of prolonged steroid use. Addiction results in social problems such as irresponsible behaviors. Depression in users has also been blamed on steroid use.
It is important for authorities to regulate steroid use since using them over many years causes numerous side effects. Public sensitization should be carried out on the dangers of steroid use, and medical monitoring for persons with prescriptions permitting them to take steroids.