New Delhi: Building muscles and having an extraordinary body is quite a common trend in youngsters for which they often take supplements, including anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids are hormones prepared artificially, and resemble the male hormones, testosterone. Testosterone is essential in males for the development of characteristics such as facial and body hair growth, increased height and muscle mass, deepening of voice, and sex drive.
Dr. Parul Katiyar, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility shares with IANSlife some pointers on the topic.
Steroids, friend or foe?
Steroids are used in medicine for the treatment of some medical issues like hormonal imbalance, life threatening allergies, arthritis etc but this should not be confused with the illegal use of anabolic steroids for body building. These anabolic steroids may involve doses 10 to 100 times higher than the normal prescription dose of steroids.
Taking anabolic steroids without consulting any medical expert may create havoc in the body in the long run, and result in significant side-effects in males which include impotency, erectile dysfunction and low-sperm count. They also increase the risk of life threatening heart attack and stroke.
Not only males, these steroids affect female reproductive systems too. The usage of these steroids increases the risk of pregnancy-related issues including ability to conceive. They also create an imbalance in the menstrual cycle, making them prone to excessive unwanted body hair, decreased breast size and deepening of the voice.
How anabolic steroids can affect male fertility?
Normally, the brain sends signals to the testis to produce the male hormone, testosterone and sperms but with the intake of synthetic testosterone (anabolic steroids), the brain senses its high level in the body and stops the signals that are needed to stimulate the testis for natural production of testosterone as well as sperms, thus leading to low and in some cases even zero sperm count.This leads to male infertility.
In many cases, the sperm production recovers in 3 to 12 months after the man stops taking the drug but sometimes the impact is so severe that there is a total loss of sperm production capability in the male and infertility is irreversible even after stopping the steroids. Research has also concluded that anabolic steroid can cause structural damage to the sperm cells, which in turn can lead to abnormalities in the fetus. The damage in the male fertility is linked to the drugs(s), dose(s), and duration of steroids. Men who wish to father children must consult their doctor before starting any new supplement for body building.
Men, who are undergoing fertility issues because of the steroid abuse, should consult a fertility expert so that they can suggest the tests and treatment to help overcome the problem. The most important test to gauge male infertility is the semen analysis which gives information about the count and quality of sperms. Based on the result the doctor can also prescribe medications to reverse the effect of anabolic steroids.
In case this is not possible the couple may also need to undergo specialized fertility treatments so that they can fulfil their dream of having children.
To conclude, it is important to trigger the young thinking minds regarding the potential side effects of anabolic steroids. These steroids may promise stronger and muscular bodies in a short span but lead to infertility and other complications in the longer run.