AskDocQ: The truth about steroids

Steroids And You

Are you someone who uses performance enhancing substances? Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying steroids from a trainer or an online shop?

Many guys use non-prescription testosterone and other substances to build up their muscles and get more out of their training sessions, sometimes “stacking” multiple anabolic androgenic steroids in a cycle.

The levels of testosterone that some people achieve by doing this can be as high as 10 times the normal level!

Cycling testosterone can turn into a bit of an obsession, and lead to pursuit of higher and higher levels.

Each cycle is usually followed by other drugs such as diuretics and oestrogen blockers to treat the predictable side effects of too much testosterone.

That’s right, too much testosterone leads to physical problems. At the end of the cycle you can have a build-up of oestrogen, leading to fluid retention in your face and neck and man-boobs.

Some of the stronger horse testosterones on the market can cause serious aggression (so-called “roid rage”) and night sweats.

In the longer term, breast development is a big risk. Nearly everybody who has been on testosterone will get testicular shrinkage. Some guys will manage this by injecting a pregnancy hormone called HCG.

By the way, those small balls won’t be producing sperm anymore. It may be difficult to reverse this effect, so if future fertility is important to you this is something to consider before starting out.

Testosterone can severely affect your health

With long-term heavy use of high dose testosterone, your health can be seriously affected. As a result, hypertension, heart failure and sudden cardiac death can occur.

Other possibilities include premature balding, tendon rupture and old man’s bladder problems because of prostate enlargement. Unfortunately, most people won’t disclose their steroid use to their doctor, for fear of judgement.

But it’s not a doctor’s job to tell you what you can and can’t do. We can only give you advice. We can help you better manage your health if we know what you’re taking.

Any patients of mine who are on these kinds of steroids get regular blood pressure checks, as well as cholesterol and heart checks. Also, it’s a good opportunity to check in on how your mental health is travelling.

So, if you’ve made up your mind to use testosterone in this way, let your doctor know so they can help you to be as safe as possible.

Remember to never share injecting equipment and get regular check-ups.

Dr Fiona Bisshop specialises in LGBTIQ health. For more by Dr Bisshop visit, follow @DrFionaBisshop on Twitter, or send your health questions to

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Dr Fiona Bisshop

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