The Three Classes of Steroids and Their Side Effects
The term steroid actually refers to a class of drug. Steroids include a wide variety of synthetic or naturally occurring organic compounds that contain the presence of a steroid (a seventeen carbon structure organized into four connected rings).
There are three types of steroids: anabolic (muscle building), androgenic (masculine characteristics), and corticosteroids - the last of which are naturally occurring and serve to enhance the immune system.Anabolic and androgenic steroids are commonly associated with one another and collectively named anabolic-androgenic steroids.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic substances created to closely resemble the hormone, testosterone. Both anabolic and androgenic describe different effects within the body. The anabolic effects include skeletal muscle growth, while the androgenic effects include the development of certain male characteristics.
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Side Effects
There are many side effects associated with the use of anabolic steroids. Many of these adverse effects are directly affected by the dosage and length of use. It should also be noted that many of these side effects will subside once steroid use has stopped, but others are permanent.
- Gynecomastia (breast development)
- Heart attacks
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Increased risk for secondary infections
- Liver cancer
- Male pattern baldness
- Tendon rupture
- Testicle shrinking
- Voice deepening
Corticosteroids, also known as glucocorticoids, are naturally produced by the adrenal gland. Corticosteroids are prescribed by physicians for the treatment of certain immune system problems. Corticosteroids are capable of inhibiting or preventing the inflammatory response due to substances that trigger allergic reactions.
Corticosteroid Side Effects
There are many side effects associated with corticosteroids, as these are powerful medications that are designed to quickly and efficiently reduce inflammation and swelling. The following are the potential side effects of corticosteroid use. Bear in mind that these side effects are less common when used as directed and only used for short periods of time.
- Adrenal crisis
- High blood pressure
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Muscle weakness
- Psychological complications
- Skin thinning
- Stomach ulcers
- Water retention (develops to swelling and edema)
- Weight gain
The fact remains that all steroid use is capable of producing negative side effects. However, these side effects are primarily based on the length of time the steroid is used and the dosage. It should be noted that there are limited studies as to the exact side effects, including how permanent overall damage is. Due to this, you should exercise caution when using steroids or any other medication. If you are currently prescribed medication that contains steroids and have concerns about steroid use causing shrinkage dysfunction, you should contact your physician to discuss other treatment options.