Average steroids users will have messed up their hormone balance beyond recovery after a few years, endocrinologists at Copenhagen University Hospital discovered. The study raises questions about whether post cycling therapy [PCT] after a course of steroids has any point.
The Danes studied 37 bodybuilders who were taking steroids, 33 bodybuilders who had been clean for 2-3 years, and another 30 bodybuilders who had never taken steroids.
The participants were 18-50 years old and did 6-9 hours of weight training per week.
The active steroids users had been taking anabolics for a total of 142 weeks; the ex-users had taken steroids for 112 weeks. Half of the users and ex-users had taken hCG, a hormone that according to manuals for steroids users helps to restore the hormone balance after a steroid cycle. About a third of the users and ex-users had used anti-oestrogens during the post cycling therapy.
The total testosterone concentration was significantly lower in the ex-users than in the control group of bodybuilders that never used steroids. Moreover, the ex-users had significantly smaller testes than the subjects who had never used steroids.
The free testosterone concentration was significantly lower in the ex-users than in the control group.
The concentration of LH and FSH, the hormones that stimulate the testes to produce testosterone, was exactly the same in the ex-users as in the never-users. It is therefore unlikely that the permanent damage caused by steroids use occurs in the glands in the brain that control the testes via FSH and LH.
The longer the steroids users and ex-users had cycled, the smaller their testes were, which suggests that steroids use causes permanent damage to the testes.
Depression, erectile dysfunction and decreased libido were more common in the ex-users than in the subjects who had never used steroids.
"The present study showed that a high proportion of former anabolic steroids abusers exhibited biochemical and functional anabolic androgenic steroid-induced hypogonadism several years after anabolic steroids cessation", the Danes summarised. "Current anabolic steroids abusers exhibited biochemical abnormalities suggestive of impaired spermatogenesis, which were associated with increasing accumulated duration of anabolic steroids abuse."
"Anabolic androgenic steroid-induced hypogonadism may become a public health concern with respect to male infertility and hypogonadism."