How steroids affect muscle growth

Steroids are in a class of drug that have similar effects to testosterone hormone in the body. They are used to treat varied medical complications. In men, they are used to maintain male characteristics after removal of testicles following a disease like testicular cancer. They are also used to treat adolescents that are suffering from malfunction of pituitary gland. Further, they are used to regulate metabolism and support reproduction. However, they are popularly used to increase bone and muscle mass in bodybuilding.

Anabolic Androgenic Steroids

Steroids used in bodybuilding are called anabolic steroids. They are also referred to as anabolic androgenic steroids. The term 'anabolic' means the increase of a lean tissue to a larger mass. They are work by mimicking the effects of testosterone in the body. The hormone is derived in the body from fats called cholesterol. It enters a body cell and attaches to a receptor that crosses to the nucleus leading to activation of protein synthesis. Protein synthesis promotes muscle growth and tissue repair. If this process is increased, then the body is able to regenerate fast after illness. Moreover, lean tissue is able grow speedily.

The body has two processes that maintain the normal repair and growth. The first process is called anabolism. This is a constructive process where the body converts simple protein substances into complex substances such as bones and muscle. There is a corresponding process called catabolism. This is a destructive process where complex substances are broken down for removal from the body. A normal body maintains a balance between both processes. This enhances normal tissue renewal and growth. Anabolic steroids work by reversing the catabolic process in the skeletal muscle. This increases protein synthesis. The process can be ascertained by evaluating the nitrogen balance. A growing organism has positive nitrogen balance.

Effects of using steroids

Anabolic effects of these drugs are increased protein synthesis (as discussed above), increased appetite, accelerated bone growth and remodelling. Bone marrow is also stimulated leading to increase in red blood cells. There is also increased strength due to growth of skeletal muscles.

There are also sexually related effects referred to as androgenic effects. Most of these changes becomes irreversible with repeated use. These include enlargement of sebaceous gland,(increased oil production), diminishing sizes of clitoris and penis. There are also increased growth of hair in the armpits, chest and groin.

Besides, the above, there are physical changes that are easily detected. Repeated use affects eyes resulting to cataracts and glaucoma. There is also high water retention in the face leading to a round face and puffed up cheeks. Females experience increased growth of facial hair and a husky voice due to voice deepening. Acne has also been reported by most of heavy users.

There is a relationship between increased testosterone and aggressive behaviour. Most of heavy users are involved in violent acts. Psychotic syndrome and high levels of anxiety also affect users. There have been reported instances of mood swings, sleep disturbances and various stages of depression. This makes most of the users dependant on the drug hence addiction.

Most of users seeking to increase their skeletal muscles tend to take an overdose. Unregulated use of the drug has serious effects most of which are irreversible. Caution should therefore be taken when using such drugs.