Definition - What does Anabolic Steroids mean?
Anabolic steroids are supplements taken to help build muscle mass and are often used to enhance the fitness of male athletes. However, anabolic steroids harm male fertility by blocking the body’s natural ability to produce sperm. Most cases of male factor infertility caused by anabolic steroids can be treated, but some long term users may face irreparable damage.
Anabolic steroids are also called anabolic-androgenic steroids or performance enhancing drugs.
FertilitySmarts explains Anabolic Steroids
Originally, anabolic steroids were taken by professional or competitive athletes to enhance performance. However, the usage of these drugs has spread to non-competitive populations, where the drugs are used to achieve personal fitness or body goals. Today, average men looking to lose weight, gain muscle mass, or complete athletically are standard users of anabolic steroids. However, these steroids are detrimental to male fertility, as they effectively block the reproductive system’s functioning.
To the body, anabolic steroids are indistinguishable from testosterone, a naturally occurring male sex hormone that facilitates fertility and function of the reproductive system. When the drug enters the blood stream, it confuses the process. Since it appears as enough testosterone is present, natural production of testosterone halts. However, the anabolic steroids are not designed to complete the same tasks as testosterone, the absence prevents two additional sex hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), from being released. As a result, sperm does not develop in the testes.
A man who suffers from infertility as a result of taking anabolic steroids would still be able to gain an erection, engage in sexual activity, achieve orgasm, and ejaculate semen. However, the semen would contain little to no sperm.
Men diagnosed with anabolic steroid-based infertility may be able to regain sperm development by discontinuing use of the drug. For most causal users, fertility is regained in 3-6 months when the reproductive system function returns. However, long term users may face permanent, irreparable damage.