Some big, muscular men who turn to performance-enhancing drugs to build up muscle can end up shrinking below the belt. Shrinking testicles is neither the result of Mother Nature playing an ironic trick nor a hazard that comes with weight lifting in general, it is rather one of the side effects of certain illegal drugs.
What Causes It
Performance-enhancing anabolic-androgen steroids are the drugs that often lead to testicle shrinkage, according to MayoClinic.com and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A doctor's prescription is the only way to obtain and use anabolic steroids legally, although they are also available on the black market. Different types of anabolic-androgen steroids include winstrol, equipoise, dianabol, deca-durabolin and oxandrin. Designer steroids, made specifically to bypass standard drug tests, also fall into the anabolic steroid category. "Roids" and "juice" are common slang terms.
Anabolic-androgen steroids are so named because of the effects they have on your body. Anabolic refers to muscle-building characteristics. Androgenic refers to male traits, such as a deep voice and hairy chest and face.
What They Do
Anabolic steroids build muscle mass, strength and help the body recover quicker and workout longer than it can without the drugs. Some induce testosterone production while others mimic it. When taken under doctor's strict orders for their intended purpose, the steroids can actually be helpful for male patients with amnesia or a low testosterone level, NIDA says. When people take the steroids in massive doses, as some athletes do, the drugs can instead backfire with a host of harmful side effects that include testicle shrinkage and even infertility.
Other Side Effects
Men can suffer other harmful side effects from anabolic steroids, such as big breasts and baldness. Women can suffer, too. While they will not experience shrinking testicles, they can end up with a hairy chest, deeper voice, balding and an enlarged clitoris. Steroid users of either gender increase their risk of acne, drug dependence, infectious diseases, aggressive or violent behavior and psychiatric disorders. Other health risks include high blood pressure, a bigger risk of ruptured tendons and tendonitis as well as liver, heart, cholesterol and circulatory problems. Teens have the additional risks of the steroids impeding their growth or causing future health problems.