Steroids (androgenic anabolic steroids) are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone. Doctors prescribe steroids to treat medical conditions, such as delayed puberty and wasting diseases. Steroids are also used illegally for improved athletic abilities and physical appearance. Though steroid abuse was once popular primarily among bodybuilders, it has grown increasingly common among males and females of various walks of life, according to the United States Department of Justice. Steroids may cause numerous side effects in women.
Menstrual Abnormalities and Infertility
Male and female bodies produce testosterone. In women's bodies, testosterone is stored in the ovaries and other tissues throughout the reproductive system. Since steroids replicate testosterone, steroid use may trigger hormonal shifts. As a result, women may experience menstrual abnormalities my occur. Women may experience fewer periods, lighter or heavier menstrual flow, erratic periods or unusual premenstrual symptoms. If a woman stops menstruating , a condition called amenhorrea, it may indicate infertility--another potential side effect of steroid use according to the United States Department of Justice.
The term androgenic refers to changes males encounter during puberty. Due to the androgenic properties of steroids, women may experience side effects similar to symptoms males experience during pubescent years, such as a deeper voice and increased body or facial hair. According to the Mayo Clinic, steroid use may also cause unusual clitoris growth and baldness. Women's breasts may reduce in size and some effects, such as voice changes, may be permanent.
Steroids may also affect a woman's emotions. Potential emotional side effects include mood swings, mania, a false sense of invincibility, depression, anxiousness, irritability and hostility. Though emotional side effects of steroids can affect women and men, women may experience worsened moods during before menstruation. Women with history of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, may risk relapses or greater need for psychological treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, people may become dependent on steroids, resulting in heightened emotional problems during and after steroid use.
In addition to appearance and menstrual changes, steroids may cause severe acne, water retention or bloating, liver disorders, sexual disorders and unhealthy cholesterol levels. High cholesterol caused by steroids may lead to cardiovascular conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Taking steroids during pregnancy may negatively affect fetal development.