Why Do Steroids Cause Gynecomastia?
The world of bodybuilding, or having a good physique, has taken over the world. We are flooded with muscular and lean men in magazines, social media, and gyms. Although many gained these looks from hard work in the gym and clean diets, others tried the shortcut: anabolic steroids. But there are side effects. So why do steroids cause gynecomastia?
Definition Of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is the appearance of breast enlargement in men. This happens because of a hormone imbalance, causing the breast glandular tissue to swell and grow. It gives the visual look of “man boobs.” Although it isn’t harmful, it can be embarrassing, painful, and sometimes sensitive and irritating.
30% to 60% of all men get it at some point, especially during puberty, when the hormones evolve to change a boy into a man. It can last between 6 months and 3 years in puberty.
Overview Of Steroids
Steroids are getting increasingly popular with regular fitness junkies. In contrast, in the past, only elite bodybuilders were known to use them. They are not legal to use without a prescription from a doctor. You should not be caught selling, importing, or making them because you can get a 14-year jail sentence in the worst cases.
Nevertheless, bodybuilders get access to steroids and know how to clear their systems for competitions that require them to be drug-free. The reason why steroids are so popular is that it helps men increase their muscle mass and strength faster. More muscle mass leads to a better-looking body in less time.
Steroids increase muscle because a synthetic form of testosterone is administered, helping testosterone levels to skyrocket.
Some of the popular steroids bodybuilders use are:
- Fina / Trenbolone
- Dianabol/ Methandrostenolone
- Winstrol/ Stanozolol
- Deca-Durabolin/ Nandrolone decanoate
Causes Of Gynecomastia
Various conditions can cause gynecomastia in men. Some are reversible, and some might need more extensive treatments and sometimes surgery to remove.
The most general cause of gynecomastia is because of hormone imbalances. As soon as the estrogen levels in the body are higher than testosterone, or when estrogen increases fast, it can lead to gynecomastia.
Puberty – is the number one reason for gynecomastia in teenagers. The testes start to evolve and produce testosterone. In turn, estrogen levels also increase drastically to keep up with the balance. This sudden increase cause gynecomastia. Some boys mature fast, while others take a little longer. The gynecomastia is dependent on how long the maturation takes.
Obesity – increasing estrogen levels also increase the fat cells in the body. With no management, the once higher estrogen levels can lead to obesity. However, there is a difference between gynecomastia and pseudocomastia. A doctor needs to examine the breasts to clarify if it is caused by gynecomastia or only excessive fat tissue.
Overuse Of Steroids
A significant cause of gynecomastia, or “gyno,” as the fitness world calls it, is steroid overuse. It is also a big problem for bodybuilder professionals to develop gynecomastia as their prep aims to have perfect aesthetics and very low body fat.
Low body fat will cause the gyno to be more prominent and lead to a loss in the competitive world of bodybuilding.
Effects Of Steroids On Gynecomastia
Steroids directly affect gynecomastia, and the chances of getting the condition while using it are high. Gynecomastia might not be harmful, but the continuous usage of steroids can lead to permanent results.
The hormone imbalances and manipulation of hormones are the main reasons for gyno in steroids users.
Increase In Estrogen Levels
The purpose of steroid use is to increase testosterone levels. With a sudden increase in testosterone, the estrogen levels in the body must compete with it and try to correct the balance.
Estrogen then uses the enzyme aromatase to reduce the free-roaming testosterone in the body. The sudden increase in estrogen causes the gyno in steroid users.
Decrease In Testosterone Levels
Gynecomastia can also be present in steroid users after they stop using it. This is because the testes reduce testosterone production when you inject additional testosterone. In some instances, when you use the steroids for too long, they stop producing the hormone altogether.
Then, when you stop the injections, there is a sudden drop in testosterone, the testes don’t produce new ones, and an abundance of estrogen is left. Hence the gynecomastia after you stop steroids.
Prevention Of Gynecomastia
Some opt for estrogen blockers such as Nolvadex or Arimidex to prevent gynecomastia when using steroids. These are medication pills prescribed to breast cancer patients to reduce estrogen levels to ensure they don’t interfere with the treatment.
The adrenal glands and liver already have to work overtime with all the testosterone in the body, and these pills, especially Arimidex, put more pressure on them. It also decreases the good cholesterol in the body. The blockers might help, but it causes a downward spiral to add more medication to an already fighting body.
Avoiding Overuse Of Steroids
One of the first ways to prevent and/or cure gynecomastia is to stop the overuse of steroids. If you have naturally low testosterone levels, you can visit a doctor who can give testosterone treatments to deal safely and legally with the issue.
Maintaining A Healthy Diet
Keeping your diet clean and healthy can prevent gynecomastia. A healthy diet will reduce fat, which keeps estrogen levels at bay. Still, it will also lead to overall hormone balance.
Focus on proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Testosterone-boosting foods are a great option to improve your levels and prevent gynecomastia.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Leafy greens
Although exercise won’t deal with gynecomastia directly, a healthy weight and fat percentage can prevent it. So ensure you do aerobic exercise and weight training. The suggested amount is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This will give your body the best chance to keep all the organs healthy and ensure that hormones balance. Thus preventing gynecomastia.
Make sure you know what the cause of your gynecomastia is and deal with that first. If you suspect steroid overuse, stop using it and consult a doctor for better options to treat low testosterone levels.
Instead, focus on a healthy lifestyle that keeps you in shape and increases your natural testosterone.
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