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  • With over three million Americans having used steroids, the desire to bulk up is strong

  • But what even happens to your body when you take steroids and are there major risks to performance-enhancing drugs?

  • Every time you pump a weight at the gym your muscles experience damage,

  • but the body recovers by forming new muscle protein strands to repair the muscle fibers.

  • Over time these strands increase in thickness and number and

  • ultimately if muscle protein synthesis is greater than muscle protein breakdown

  • your muscles will grow.

  • The degree of growth is largely regulated by testosterone, which increases protein synthesis.

  • It's why, generally, men have larger muscle mass than women as they have higher levels of testosterone.

  • Now steroids are any compound with a specific 4-carbon ring structure, so the term

  • steroid actually includes some chemicals that can be used to treat fever and headaches and even sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

  • But the type of steroid we'll be looking at actually mimic natural

  • testosterone with the intention to enhance performance and are used by more than

  • 15% of gym-goers.

  • Within a single day of taking steroids the expression of your genes will begin to change.

  • Steroids easily enter your cells and bind to the androgen receptor. At this point they can move into the nucleus and attach to your DNA,

  • which activates hundreds of genes to increase protein synthesis, while slowing protein breakdown.

  • In the end, people who take steroids can have three to five times more nuclei in some muscle cells.

  • Steroids can also stop the

  • differentiation of fat stem cells and decrease a person's body fat.

  • Days in and your quickly increasing muscle size and strength,

  • while also protecting muscle fibers against damage, making steroids ideal for exercise tolerance and recovery as well.

  • But continue to take them and your behavior may start to change.

  • Because steroid receptors are found in parts of our central nervous system like the forebrain,

  • hypothalamus and pituitary gland, steroids can lead to the classic roid rage.

  • A study of athletes taking steroids showed

  • 20% developed higher manic and depressive

  • scores than non-users.

  • Mice given steroids over ten weeks also become more aggressive towards other mice put in the same cages.

  • Male mice also become more dominant and are more willing to compete for sex with female mice.

  • But that sex drive may not translate to better sex.

  • For female users

  • steroids can interfere with the estrus cycle and may decrease sexual drive.

  • Masculinization can occur as well with female users gaining deeper voices and starting to grow more body and facial hair.

  • Male users may experience sperm cell abnormalities and decreased sperm count.

  • Steroids also decreased natural production of hormones that are necessary for maintaining testicular size,

  • meaning your balls will shrink.

  • And since most steroid users follow a cycle of on and off dosing periods

  • natural levels of testosterone can be quite low at times causing erectile dysfunction and decreased libido in males.

  • 40% of male users also developed enlarged breast tissue, as steroids break down into estradiol,

  • which stimulates the growth of mammary tissue.

  • Finally steroids can cause a high level of acne in almost half of users and

  • increase the risk of heart disease and stroke

  • So yes, steroids will make you bulk up faster and improve your athletic ability,

  • but as with most things, comes with a set of risks and side effects that you'll likely experience as well.

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B2 US muscle testosterone protein steroid synthesis decreased

What Happens When You Take Steroids?

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    Howard Lin posted on 2018/04/30
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