Steroids & Fertility: can steroids affect male fertility?
January 24, 2023
Steroids have frequented the shadows of the bodybuilding and fitness communities for decades. Despite being illegal, their presence continues to be felt within the industry.
If you find building muscle mass or the physique you want challenging, you might turn to steroids for a helping hand. But you’re probably familiar with some of the physical and mental side effects of anabolic steroids (spoiler alert: they are not good).
Although you’ll know from hanging around the gym that sometimes the results that steroids get are worth the risk.
However, one risk you might not have considered is the potential link between steroids and fertility. Steroids mimic the male hormone testosterone, so there are bound to be some effects that affect your manhood and its proficiency.
While children might not be on your radar right now if it’s something you want from life, the potential impact is something you should be aware of.
So, here is some information on the link between anabolic steroids and male infertility.
What are anabolic steroids (and how are they used?)
Anabolic steroids are the primary type of illegal steroids used to help people build a better bulk, cut some fat, or build increased strength.
They are synthetic, entirely artificial substances with little to no natural ingredients.
Anabolic steroids work by mimicking the effects of testosterone, binding to specific chemical receptors in your body to encourage and influence your muscles to grow and recover quickly.
Of course, because it's very similar to testosterone, the male hormone, it can also cause unwanted effects on other parts of your body, including the organs that regulate your hormones and sexual organs.
Although steroids can work and improve muscle mass, they are dangerous and have many side effects, not to mention the impact they can have on your fertility.
Moreover, steroids are illegal when a doctor does not prescribe them. If found with them, you could be sentenced to a minimum of one year with a $1,000 fine or six years in jail if you possess a large amount.
How do you use anabolic steroids?
You can take anabolic steroids in multiple ways. Although you can easily digest them as a pill, they're most commonly injected directly into the muscle to produce faster and more effective results. You can also get them as balms or creams that can rub directly onto your skin.
When using steroids, most people cycle them in two-month treatments. As you use steroids, your body becomes more resilient, meaning you'll have to increase your dosage after extended usage.
To combat this, people use pyramid cycles where you start small and then increase the dosage to a maximum by the end of month one. Then, after that, you reduce the dosage again so that by the end of it, you haven't built up resilience.
People usually take steroids with other substances - depending on what goal they are looking to reach. Using numerous steroids at once is called stacking and is a popular way to get the most benefits, as they can work together to help you achieve incredible results.
How do anabolic steroids impact fertility?
People typically link a high muscle mass with virility. Biologically, we are hardwired to find muscles attractive, as it shows that the individual is healthy enough to produce and protect offspring.
That said, building muscles through steroids can become a significant issue, as science suggests that it can negatively impact your sperm count and create other problems, too.
There are many reasons this drug can impact your fertility; here's a look at some of the main side effects contributing to weaker fertility:
1. Decreased sperm count
Anabolic steroids can reduce fertility by reducing your sperm count.
A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that men who used anabolic steroids had a significantly lower sperm count than those who did not. The study also found that the men who used steroids had a higher percentage of abnormal sperm.
With a lower sperm count, it means that when trying to conceive, you have less chance of having a single sperm fertilize an egg. But, of course, if the quality of your sperm is still good, then all hope isn't lost if your count is low.
Because steroids can also cause abnormal sperm, some can be defective and unable to swim or attach to the egg, making you even less likely to conceive.
2. Increased risk of testicular cancer
Anabolic steroids can also increase the risk of testicular cancer. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that men who used anabolic steroids were more than twice as likely to develop testicular cancer as those who did not use steroids.
Not only can testicular cancer become a fatal problem and require a lot of treatment to cure, but if you do go into remission, the effects cancer has had on your testicles can make you infertile.
Your testicles create sperm, so having issues with them can seriously impact your ability to have children.
3. Erectile dysfunction
Steroids can also cause erectile dysfunction. This dysfunction can be due to a decrease in testosterone levels and the direct effects of steroids on the blood vessels and nerves involved in erections.
This can result in difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. Being able to get it up means that you'll struggle to perform in the bedroom, making you far less likely to impregnate someone.
Not only can erectile dysfunction make you far less fertile as a result, but it can also be a problem that affects your confidence. It can turn sexual encounters into frustrating and anxiety-inducing experiences.
4. Reduced testicular size
Steroids can also cause the testicles to shrink, leading to reduced fertility. A decrease in testosterone production and the direct effects of steroids on the testicles cause testicle shrinking.
Having shrunken testicles can make it harder for your body to produce quality sperm, impacting your fertility severely.
5. Reduced levels of testosterone
Testosterone is a hormone necessary for sperm production. A study published in the Journal of Urology found that men who used anabolic steroids had significantly lower testosterone levels than those who did not.
This problem can occur because steroids block the receptors that typically bind with testosterone, so your body will naturally produce less substance as it will feel that your body doesn't need it.
Low testosterone not only reduces your sperm count but can also lead to hormone imbalances that can result in the development of more feminine features, such as male breasts.
6. Impaired liver function
Finally, another reason steroids can impact fertility is that the substance can also impair liver function.
This may not sound like an issue related to fertility; however, your liver directly affects your virility levels.
The liver eliminates toxins from the body and produces hormones necessary for reproduction.
A study in the Journal of Hepatology discovered that men who used anabolic steroids had significantly impaired liver function compared to those who did not.
Other health side effects of anabolic steroids
If you're already wincing at how severely steroids can impact your fertility, it may shock you to know that there are far more negative effects on your health that the substance can cause.
Here are some other side effects that all combine to make illegal steroids a risk that isn't worth it. Instead, you should seek out natural alternatives that do not have the following catalog of issues and effects:
- Related content: 5 side effects of testosterone you’ll want to avoid
Steroids can cause liver damage.
We've already mentioned that steroids can impact the liver's ability to remove toxins affecting fertility. However, if you look beyond that, having a damaged liver can also cause many other health problems.
In the worst-case scenario, liver damage can lead to a complete failure of the organ, which could be fatal.
Steroids can increase cholesterol levels
When using steroids, your cholesterol levels could rise to dangerously high levels, which can be unhealthy and lead to issues such as heart disease and strokes.
Steroids can cause high blood pressure
Using steroids can be incredibly harmful to your blood pressure, to the point where you could develop hypertension.
This issue can severely damage your veins and lead to many worse problems.
Steroids can stunt growth in adolescents
Steroids are bad for adults, but they're even more dangerous for teenagers. This is because steroid usage can age your bones, limiting how much you can grow.
Although it can help with mass, it will mean that using steroids at this age can limit your height and stunt your development into adulthood.
Steroids can cause mood swings, and aggression
Steroids can also have many mental side effects as well as physical ones. The most common is mania, which makes you inadvertently behave in a more rageful and angry manner.
It can also lead to some pretty devastating mood swings, and in worse cases, it can set off paranoia and psychosis.
Of course, these forms of behavior hugely damage yourself and others and potentially destroy every aspect of your life.
Prioritizing your mental health over physical muscle gain is of paramount importance. Not only does this approach help you live a happier life, but it improves your chances of achieving long-term physique changes.
When you tackle the problem from a healthy angle and have the mental fortitude to keep working out, you will eventually succeed - even if you can't see the results instantly.
- Related content: What is roid rage (myth or frightening reality)
Steroids can cause acne
People take steroids to help improve their physique and appearance; however, one of the worst side effects of the drug is that it can leave your body covered in severe acne and scars.
This acne isn't just on your face; it can also appear on your back and other locations, depending on where you inject it.
Steroids can weaken the immune system
Steroids can impact your immune system, meaning that you are not as good at fighting infections and colds.
This problem can lead to you getting sick more often and worse than you should when dealing with a cold.
Protect your crown jewels
Steroids can wreak havoc on your body, and one of the prime areas they can impact is your sexual organs.
Not only can steroids harm your ability to produce children, but they can also cause physical deformities that can make you unable to perform or become insecure about the appearance of your genitals.
You don't have to sacrifice your fertility to achieve your fitness goals. Natural and legal steroid alternatives won't harm your body the same way and have fewer side effects.
Steroid alternatives mimic anabolic steroids while being legal and safe - with no negative impact on fertility. They can help you achieve the same fitness goals and are a supplement you should consider as an alternative to steroids.
We have a wide range of steroid alternatives that can be massively beneficial for your goals while protecting your crown jewels and ensuring that you can maintain your virility.