The anabolic steroids that regularly make headlines in the sporting news are synthetic forms of testosterone. Although these drugs have a legitimate place in medicine, and they can be legally obtained with a prescription, some athletes abuse anabolic steroids as a shortcut to greater muscle mass.
Steroid users may improve strength and performance in the short term, but the drugs are harmful in the long run. In males, the body mistakes synthetic steroids for the natural hormone and lowers its own production of testosterone, causing infertility once use of the drug stops. Impotence, shrunken testicles, and the growth of breast tissue are other possible side effects. Females who abuse steroids may develop a masculine physique, a deeper voice, and facial or body hair. In adolescents, steroids hasten adulthood, stunting growth and causing early hair loss. Finally, research suggests that high doses of steroids may cause psychological side effects such as aggression, mood swings, and irritability. For all of these reasons, health professionals strongly advise against the use of illegal steroids.