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Ages & Stages

Steroids: Not Fair Play

A couple of guys on my team are using steroids. Are they really that dangerous?

You may have heard steroids called roids, juice, hype, or pump. Anabolic-androgenic steroids are powerful prescription drugs that some athletes use not for medical reasons, but as a way to boost athletic performance and build muscle and body mass. They work by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone.

Know the Risks

Steroid use always causes bad side effects. They can really mess up your body. Megadoses do not give faster results and using in cycles is not safer. Stacking is really dangerous. Even though some of the side effects go away when you stop using steroids, some may not.

Remember! These steroids act like the male hormone testosterone—so for both guys and girls, they can cause

  • Acne, really bad acne, especially on face and back
  • Baldness
  • A slow down of growth in athletes who aren't done growing yet
  • High blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol changes, and heart disease
  • Blood clots and stroke
  • Liver damage, jaundice, or liver cancer
  • Headaches, aching joints, and muscle cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries, which can end your athletic career for good

In addition, anyone injecting steroids with a needle and sharing needles with other users is at high risk for serious infections like hepatitis or HIV, which cause the AIDS virus. Using one type of illegal drug may also make other drug use more likely, and cause even more health risks.

In guys, steroid use causes the body to produce less testosterone. The result? Your testicles shrink. What else?

  • A low sperm count
  • Impotence (inability to get an erection)
  • Breast and nipple growth
  • Enlarged prostate (a gland in the penis)

Steroids can be pretty tough on girls' bodies too, causing

  • Breast shrinkage
  • More face and body hair
  • Voice deepening
  • Problems with menstrual periods
  • Clitoris enlargement

Steroids Can also Mess with your Mind and Cause

  • "Roid rage"—severe, aggressive behavior that may result in violence, such as fighting or destroying property
  • Severe mood swings
  • Hallucinations—seeing or hearing things that are not really there
  • Paranoia—extreme feelings of mistrust and fear
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression and thoughts of suicide

Better Safe Than Sorry!

If you are serious about your sport and your health, you don't need drugs to prove yourself. Instead, keep yourself healthy by

  • Training safely, without drugs
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Setting realistic goals (Be proud of yourself when you reach your goals!)
  • Getting training, coaching, and advice from reliable professionals
  • Playing safely and using protective gear
  • Talking with your pediatrician about your health and nutrition, and how to prevent injuries and gain strength safely

Share this information with friends and teammates. Take a stand against the use of anabolic steroids and other drugs. Truly successful athletes combine their natural abilities with hard work to achieve their best. There is no quicker or easier way.a

Last Updated
Steroids: Play Safe, Play Fair (Copyright © 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 2/2007)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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