Gynecomastia from Steroids
Can Anabolic Steroid Use Cause Gynecomastia?
Steroid-induced gynecomastia is relatively common in the bodybuilding community due to the use of anabolic steroids to promote muscle growth.
Occasionally anabolic steroids are prescribed to treat certain conditions in men caused by hormone deficiencies, such as delayed puberty, and diseases that result in the loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS.
Anabolic Steroid Abuse
When anabolic steroids are used without a prescription, the strength can be anywhere from 10 to 100 times higher than that prescribed by doctors to treat medical issues. Typically, the steroid is injected directly into the muscle or taken orally. Steroids are also available in a cream or gel and are simply massaged into the skin.
Generally, anabolic steroids are taken intermittently. This method helps to reduce side effects and gives the body’s endocrine system time to recover. Constant use of anabolic steroids may reduce the body’s ability to utilize the drug effectively. Additionally, the body may stop producing testosterone.
Steroid cycling is a pattern of use popular with bodybuilders, during which steroids are taken for a period, stopped, and restarted again. Steroid Stacking is another standard method used in the bodybuilder community that involves combining several types of steroids to improve their effectiveness.
Steroids Can Cause the Development of Gynecomastia
The development of gynecomastia, or gyno, a common nickname, usually occurs when the steroid cycle stops. The orally or injected anabolic steroid signals to the endocrine system that there is enough testosterone in the body, prompting a reduction in natural testosterone production.
When the steroid cycle discontinues, it takes the body some time to produce normal testosterone levels again. This causes hormone imbalance with a high estrogen level (female hormone) relative to the testosterone level.
When there is a hormone imbalance, the high estrogen levels can trigger breast glandular tissue growth and the development of enlarged male breasts. Although the testosterone and estrogen levels will usually gradually normalize, the breast glandular tissue has already formed and rarely resolves without treatment.
Some of the most frequently used anabolic steroids include:
It is imperative that you tell your physician if you have or are using steroids, the type of steroid, how long you’ve been using them and the method used. Everything you tell a physician is in complete confidence and enables them to recommend the most appropriate treatment. When gynecomastia surgery is required, your plastic surgeon can take additional precautions to reduce the risk of complications, which may occur due to steroid use, such as excessive bleeding.
Steroid Use and Side Effects (Steroid Induced Gynecomastia)
Both professional and amateur bodybuilders and athletes often use anabolic steroids to improve athletic performance and build muscles to improve strength.
This type of use has been linked with numerous adverse side effects, including:
- Acne on the face and body
- Steroid-induced gynecomastia
- Testicular atrophy (reduction of testicle size)
- Voice change
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular (heart problems)
- Liver disease
- Kidney damage
- Some types of cancer.
Aromatization: The Side Effect Every Bodybuilder Fears
When ingesting or injecting anabolic steroids, various processes occur in the body, including aromatization. This is where the anabolic steroids convert to an estrogen-like or female-like compound. The conversion causes a shift in the ratio of testosterone to estrogen. This results in an abundance of the female hormone, estrogen, thus causing the growth of breast glandular tissue, resulting in enlarged male breasts.
Steroid Induced Gynecomastia
Anabolic steroids may also cause a reduction in the normal production of testosterone in the testes. This hormonal imbalance can stimulate the development of female-like breast tissue.
Continued use of anabolic steroids will cause the glandular breast tissue to grow, resulting in the appearance of enlarged male breasts. Once breast glandular tissue forms, the chest will not return to normal proportions, even if the steroid is discontinued.
The F.D.A has not approved any medication to treat gynecomastia, or gyno, although it is possible to have certain medicines prescribed “off label”. Drugs are usually not recommended for the treatment of gynecomastia. Gynecomastia surgery is the preferred and only reliable way to resolve enlarged male breasts, caused by steroid use permanently.
Estrogen Blockers and Steroid Use
Estrogen blockers, also referred to as aromatase inhibitors, are a common medication used by athletes and bodybuilders to block the effects of estrogen. Research indicates that estrogen blockers are used to prevent gynecomastia. Their impact is limited in men who typically develop gynecomastia during treatment for prostate cancer.
Estrogen blockers may also cause a range of side effects, including:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Diminished bone density and an increased risk of fractures.
The Effects of Anabolic Steroids on the Brain
Research has shown that long-term use of anabolic steroids can cause early brain cell death, which could lead to Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Also, steroids affect the neurotransmitter pathways, which can contribute to cognitive decline and cause severe chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia and epilepsy.
Anabolic steroid use may also cause long-term psychiatric conditions. Manic-like symptoms and extreme bouts of anger, sometimes termed roid rage, are relatively common. These symptoms may continue even when steroid use stops.
Signs of Steroid Addiction
Anabolic steroids can be addictive, although they do not cause the same type of addiction as other illicit drugs.
Common signs of steroid addiction include:
- Continuing to take steroids regardless of the physical issues and negative effects on social relationships
- Spending significant amounts of time and money to obtain the drugs
- Taking risks to get the drugs.
Steroid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Reduced sex drive
- Emotional mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Steroid cravings
- Chronic pain.
Important Facts about Purchasing Steroids
Steroids are illegal in the U.S, and therefore, companies that produce steroids illegally are not subject to any controls. There is no way of knowing how unregulated steroids, bought online or from dealers, have been produced. They may be made in homegrown labs, using a range of dangerous additives, similar to how crystal meth is produced in the T.V series, Breaking Bad!
Jose Garcia, MD, Ph.D, Baylor College of Medicine, advises, “You never know if these products are contaminated or if they contain what they’re supposed to. It’s likely that these drugs are being made in underground labs.” Bodybuilders Bulk Up Using … Cancer Drugs?
by Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today 16th January, 2014.
If you choose to use illegal steroids, always keep an unused sample on you. If you do have a reaction, you can provide the hospital with the sample for them to test it and find out what substances might be causing your symptoms to more effectively treat you. This could just save your life!
Please complete Dr. Delgado’s inquiry form for personalized information about gynecomastia plastic surgery procedures.
Miguel Delgado, M.D, F.A.C.S is a world-renowned Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon granted by the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Society. Dr. Delgado has a surgical practice solely dedicated to cosmetic plastic surgery. He specializes in gynecomastia surgery and is the medical director of Gynecomastia.org, the oldest and largest gynecomastia forum dedicated to supporting, educating, and providing solutions for men with breast enlargement. Dr. Delgado celebrates 30 years of practice in San Francisco, California. He was voted the “Best Plastic Surgeon of 2017-2021.”
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