Anabolic steroids can cause a number of side effects in men, such as reduced sperm counts, decreased testicle size, infertility, enlarged breasts and male-pattern baldness, according to WebMD. In women, they can produce more body hair, toughen skin, shrink breasts and expand the clitoris. Anabolic steroids increase the risk of serious cardiovascular conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks.
Anabolic steroids also increase the likelihood of liver diseases and cancers, especially when individuals take them in pill form, notes WebMD. Steroids can alter an individual’s behavior by increasing anger and aggression or causing mania or delusions. Teenagers who abuse steroids may have stunted bone growth and achieve shorter adult heights. An individual can develop physical dependency on the drugs, and withdrawal from regular steroid use can cause depression, fatigue and lack of appetite.
Individuals who illegally use anabolic steroids to boost muscle development and athletic performance often intake substances that are up to 100 times more potent than legal steroids, explains WebMD. Doctors may legally prescribe anabolic steroids to boost muscle growth, strengthen bones, and treat health conditions such as delayed puberty and other genetic disorders. Because anabolic steroids are similar to testosterone, doctors can prescribe them as supplements for patients with low testosterone levels. Anabolic steroids are available in oral tablets, injections, and topical creams and gels.