Let’s get it out of the way: there is a considerable difference between anabolic steroids and testosterone therapy (TRT). Still, it remains a common and potentially dangerous misconception. TRT is a therapy wherein an adequate dose of testosterone in the body of people diagnosed with low testosterone levels or have hypogonadism. On the other hand, anabolic steroid use is generally associated with the unregulated use of steroids in patients who do not have any hormonal deficiencies.
Medical and biological knowledge has come a long way. We have finally found out how the adrenal system regulates hormone productions (including testosterone). Changes that were once accepted as part of the typical male aging process have become medically resolvable conditions. These include increased body fat, decreased muscle bulk, lower energy reserves, reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction (ED), and depression as medically resolvable conditions.
There practically seems to be a drug (whether already commercially available or experimental) for almost every disease we can think of. While this dramatically improves the health of millions of people, it is a double edge sword in that many people have also begun self-medicating. A great example of this is taking anabolic steroids without the guidance of medical experts for increasing athleticism and performance.
How does TRT differ from steroids?
Steroids were developed a century back to treat hypogonadism or low testosterone, which manifests as delayed male sex characteristic development and low muscle mass. It has worked wonders since then and continues to do so today for such patients.
Unfortunately, in recent times, professional athletes and bodybuilders, and to a horrifying level, even regular citizens, are taking anabolic steroids to stretch their physical and endurance prowess to the next level. People who are disappointed with their progress in the gym are also susceptible to using steroids to obtain more significant and better muscles in a shorter amount of time. Because it has become so rampant, competitions are cracking down on steroid use. Many competitions now require routine check-ups, physical examinations, and urine tests to ensure the contestants are not using such performance-enhancing drugs.
You may ask now, if it does improve performance, why is it wrong? The answer to this is that many people take anabolic steroids in doses 10 to 100 times above the clinically used dosage. Because they are not guided by medical professionals, they are more likely to develop adverse reactions and life-threatening medical conditions. Moreover, there is a lack of regulation on the distribution of steroids not just in the United States but even globally. It is effortless to obtain these in large quantities over the internet, even without prescriptions, and people buy them without knowing their actual purity and dosage. An alarming subset of these people, including teenagers, also develops substance addiction and overdose.
Steroid side effects
It is incorrect to assume that TRT and steroid side effects are the same. TRT is safe to use for people with hypogonadism, while self-medication with anabolic steroids when your body doesn’t require any leads to catastrophic side effects.
Unwanted side effects from steroid misuse and abuse include acne, baldness, enlarged breast, cardiovascular diseases, decreased sperm count, testicle shrinkage, and internal organ dysfunction. An overlooked side effect is an addiction since steroids, like other commonly abused drugs, can interfere with neurochemical signals in our brains.
In stark contrast, TRT can be very beneficial for whom this is medically indicated for and when taken in the appropriate dose and frequency. These benefits include increased energy, better libido, improved mood, and greater muscle density and tone.
Possible risks and side effects for TRT
All pharmacologic medications have pros and cons. Not a single drug has a perfectly safe and side-effect-free profile. Given our individual differences, we respond differently to medications as well. Going back to TRT, typical side effects include mild itching or skin irritation at the injection site.
What should I watch out for?
Some conditions have been found to worsen when taking TRTs. Individuals suffering from them should consult with their doctors to weigh the benefits and risks of taking testosterone replacement medications.
Prostate cancer cells grow and proliferate when androgen hormones bind to their respective androgen receptors. This is the reason why androgen suppression therapy is done for patients with prostate cancer. Therefore, it makes sense that testosterone replacement, which is an androgen hormone, may not be the best choice for this group of people. In fact, even those who are at increased risk for prostate cancer are also cautioned to be judicious in undergoing TRT.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
OSA is not simply a problem of snoring when one sleeps. It is linked to increased risk of stroke and cardiac arrest and therefore should be taken seriously. Likewise, the use of TRT may worsen the severity of sleep apnea. Taking note of the worsening of OSA is quite tricky, given these should be observed with proper equipment during your sleep cycle. If you (or your spouse) notice an increase in the number of your apneic episodes, don’t hesitate to bring it to your doctor.
TRT contains an FDA warning on its packaging regarding the increased risk for blot clots. When you receive a testosterone shot, you may expect an increase in the number of RBCs in your bloodstream, which predisposes you to a hypercoagulable state and blood clot formation. Blood clots are dangerous when they break off and lodge in the main arteries of your heart and brain. This can cause heart attack and stroke, respectively. Deep venous thrombosis (DVT), a condition where the clot blocks the venous return from your legs, is also a medical emergency if it ever occurs.
Visit a specialist to determine if TRT is recommended for you.
Remember that testosterone and steroids are not the same. Medical conditions such as hypogonadism can be treated with TRT. Still, steroids could have catastrophic side effects if used for the sole purpose of performance enhancement. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, don’t hesitate to visit your general physician. They would be more than glad to help you out in choosing what medication is best suited for you.
Better yet, consider taking Male UltraCore–the award-winning testosterone support formula featuring over a dozen proven natural ingredients that boost your testosterone levels without needing to go for expensive testosterone replacement therapy or invasive procedures. Male UltraCore is powered by its superior testosterone formula that relies on pure, medical-grade extracts of each ingredient, guaranteeing a superior result.