Steroids have been used since the 30s to help body builders and athletes improve their strength, performance, and muscle mass. But there are, unfortunately, a lot of side effects associated with them.
While it’s not true that every user will experience every possible side effects, it’s still important to know exactly what is possible so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not the risks are worth the gains.
One of the more scary side effects is infertility. Because steroids affect sex hormones, there are many potential side effects related to the reproductive system. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the link between steroid usage and infertility.
How do Steroids Affect Male Fertility
There are quite a few side effects that can affect a man’s fertility if they use steroids:
- Decreased sperm count. The lower your sperm count, the less likely you will be able to conceive.
- Erectile dysfunction. This can make it difficult to even complete the process of fertilization, even if your sperm count was fine.
- Painful erections. Like erectile dysfunction, painful erections can make it difficult to complete the process of fertilization.
- Decreased natural production of testosterone. The more your body becomes dependent on steroids, the less capable it becomes of producing its own testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for a lot of important processes including the production of sperm. So this side effect will further decrease your sperm count.
- Testicular shrinkage and atrophy. With prolonged use, the testicles will begin to shrink and then atrophy which means they stop working (producing hormones, sperm, or anything) entirely.
In terms of sperm production, this side effect will usually reverse when you stop using steroids, assuming the testicles have not atrophied. And fortunately, erectile dysfunction is a relatively rare side effect. But it is listed because it can occur.
Painful erections are a little more common than erectile dysfunction but, arguably, equally disruptive when it comes to intercourse.
The two biggest risks here are the decreased testosterone production and testicular atrophy. These are not reversible. So even after you stop, these conditions will remain permanent. And that’s where the true risk comes in.
So Are Steroids Really Worth The Risk
The temporary side effects that affect fertility could be managed so long as you don’t plan on having children in the immediate future. However, the risk of the long term side effects that could leave you permanently infertile are something that warrants serious consideration.
If you are young, you may think that you don’t want kids right now. And that’s certainly a fine decision. If you’re not ready now, don’t have kids now. But you need to think seriously about the future and whether or not you might ever want to have kids.
These permanent side effects that will leave you permanently infertile will not happen immediately. But each time you swallow a pill or inject a steroid, you increase the risk. So if you use steroids for the long term, you can pretty much guarantee infertility.
This is why you need to way the pros and cons and decide how important it is for you to have the ability to have children in the future.
This may be less of a concern for older men who have already had kids and know they don’t plan on having any more. For those men, the primary concerns become the temporary side effects like erectile dysfunction and painful erections.
While you may not want to have any more children, you might still want to have pain free and problem free intercourse.
Can Fertility be Restored
The answer here is, it depends. As mentioned earlier, some of the side effects are temporary and will eventually be fixed after you stop using steroids. But others are permanent and will leave you permanently infertile.
So if you are already taking steroids and this is an important concern for you, the first step is to stop using steroids immediately and then go to a doctor to have your testosterone levels and sperm count tested. This way you can find out if the permanent damage has been done or not.
If you have not been using steroids for a very long time, there is a decent chance that you will be able to regain your fertility after you stop using them. It may take your body some time to readjust and normalize itself again but you can regain fertility.
However, if you have been using them for a long time or if you are one of the unlucky ones who got the permanent side effects after only using them for a short time, you will not be able to restore fertility.
Your best shot in this last scenario is to go to a fertility clinic and have a specialized surgeon search for any last remaining sperm that may still be in the testicles. If that doesn’t sound like the kind of risks you want to take, we would recommend holding off on steroids until after you have had kids.
As you can see, steroids can affect the reproductive system in a number of different ways. If you are already done having children, these risks may not be too serious for you. The same goes for anyone who genuinely does not plan on ever having kids.
However, if you still aren’t finished having children and plan to do so in the future, you may want to hold off on taking steroids because, while you might luck out and not become infertile, it’s probably not a risk you should take just yet.