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Half ex steroids users are hypogonadal

Steroids users will have caused lasting damage to their hormone balance after a couple of years, we wrote recently. That post was based on a Danish study that was recently published in PLoS One. A year before, researchers at Harvard Medical School published a similar study. While it's not as solid as the Danish study, the results are just as unpleasant. According to the Harvardians, half of all ex steroids users never recover their hormone balance.

The researchers studied 55 male recreational bodybuilders. They only took people who could do at least 1 rep with 125 kg on the bench press.

Of the group, 19 bodybuilders had used steroids in the past but had since stopped. Ex-users who had had testosterone therapy because their testes no longer produced enough male sex hormone were excluded from the study. The 36 bodybuilders who said they had never used steroids were subjected to various tests to check whether they really were natural bodybuilders.

The percentage of ex-users with a relatively high testosterone level was noticeably higher than among the never-users. And yes, the differences between the groups were statistically significant.

Half ex steroids users are hypogonadal

The ex-users had less free testosterone in their blood than the never-users. The difference between the two groups was not quite statistically significant. The differences in libido and testes size were significant between the two groups.

Half ex steroids users are hypogonadal Half ex steroids users are hypogonadal Half ex steroids users are hypogonadal

Four ex-users had only stopped cycling 4-6 months before the experiment. The rest were already at least 7 months clean. Excluding the data for the four recent ex-users did not change the overall findings.

The researchers summarise the results of their study in this table.

Just over half of the ex-users showed "pronounced symptoms of anabolic steroids withdrawal hypogonadism", according to the Harvardians. And although they only studied a small number of bodybuilders, they believe the results of their study give reason for concern.

"The present observations, despite their limitations, suggest that anabolic steroids induced hypogonadism likely represents an emerging issue in the growing world population of anabolic steroids users - an issue still apparently underrecognized in the scientific literature", they wrote. "Hypogonadal symptoms are of particular concern because they may induce individuals to quickly resume anabolic steroids use after stopping a prior course of these drugs, in an attempt to self-treat dysphoric sexual and mood symptoms."

"Repeated cycles of anabolic steroids re-use may then lead to anabolic steroids dependence, a disorder that appears to develop in as many as 30% of illicit steroids users."

"To prevent anabolic steroids dependence, and to reduce the risk of prolonged hypogonadal syndromes, hypogonadal patients will likely require endocrinological treatment to restore normal hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular function, possible antidepressant treatment (if depressive symptoms are pronounced), and substance-dependence treatment to reduce the risk of relapse into steroids use."

Addiction. 2015 May;110(5):823-83.

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