Weighing the Pros and Cons of Steroids: What You Need to Know

Last Updated on May 2, 2023 by Lily Connel

Steroids can increase muscle mass, improve recovery time, as well as enhance endurance, and reduce body fat. The cons of steroids include various health risks like acne, hair loss, mood swings, and aggression.

Definition and Brief History of Steroids

Steroids, also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are synthetic substances that mimic the effects of testosterone in the body. They were first developed in the 1930s to help treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the body produces insufficient amounts of testosterone. However, their use quickly expanded to include other medical conditions, such as delayed puberty and muscle wasting in people with AIDS.

In the 1950s and 1960s, steroids began to be used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve their physical performance and appearance. This led to widespread abuse of steroids in the sports world, and eventually the creation of anti-doping agencies to combat their use.

Today, steroids are still used in medicine to treat a variety of conditions, but their use outside of medical supervision is illegal in many countries and banned by most professional sports organizations. Despite the risks associated with their use, many athletes and bodybuilders continue to use steroids to enhance their performance and appearance.

Types of Steroids

There are two main types of steroids: corticosteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS).

  • Corticosteroids: These steroids are synthetic versions of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and allergic reactions. They work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system. Examples of corticosteroids include prednisone, hydrocortisone, and dexamethasone.
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS): These steroids are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone, which is naturally produced by the body. AAS are commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve muscle mass, strength, and athletic performance. However, their use is associated with a range of potential side effects, including liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and infertility. Examples of AAS include testosterone, nandrolone, and oxandrolone. 

The Pros of Steroids

Steroids, or more specifically anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), have been used for various reasons, including medical treatment and performance enhancement. While their use is controversial and often associated with negative side effects, there are some potential benefits to their use. Here are some of the pros of steroids:

  • Medical Uses: Steroids have been used for several medical conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and allergic reactions. They can also be used to treat hormonal imbalances and muscle wasting in people with AIDS. They alleviate inflammation and pain, which can improve the quality of life for those with certain conditions.
  • Performance Enhancement: Steroids can increase muscle mass and strength, which can help athletes and bodybuilders perform better. They can also enhance endurance and speed up recovery time after workouts. For athletes who compete at an elite level, the use of steroids may give them an edge over their competitors.
  • Cosmetic Benefits: Steroids can reduce body fat and help achieve a more defined and muscular physique. This can be beneficial for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts who are trying to achieve a specific look.
  • Improved Mood: Some people who use steroids report feeling a sense of euphoria and increased confidence. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with low self-esteem or depression.

The Cons of Steroids

While there are potential benefits to the use of steroids, it’s important to note that their use is also associated with several risks and negative side effects. These can include liver damage, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, infertility, and psychological effects such as aggression and mood swings. Here are some of the cons of steroids:

  • Health Risks: The use of steroids can lead to several health risks, including liver damage, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, and infertility. These risks can be particularly concerning for people who use steroids without medical supervision or in excessive doses.
  • Negative Side Effects: Steroids can also cause several negative side effects, including acne, hair loss, and gynecomastia (breast tissue development in men). In women, steroid use can cause menstrual irregularities, infertility, and masculinization (deepening of the voice, facial hair growth).
  • Addiction: Some individuals may become addicted to steroids, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using them. This can lead to a cycle of continued use, which can have serious long-term health consequences.
  • Legal Consequences: In many countries, the use of steroids without a prescription is illegal and can result in serious legal consequences. This can include fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record.
  • Stigma: The use of steroids is often stigmatized, particularly in the world of sports and bodybuilding. Individuals who use steroids may face criticism and judgment from others, which can lead to psychological distress and a negative impact on their mental health.

The Debate Surrounding the Use of Steroids

The use of steroids is a highly debated issue with arguments on both sides. Here are some of the main points of the debate:

Arguments in Favor of Steroid Use:

  • Steroids can have medical benefits in treating certain conditions.
  • Steroids can enhance athletic performance by increasing muscle mass, strength, and endurance.
  • Some athletes argue that the use of steroids is necessary to remain competitive in their sport.
  • Steroids can provide cosmetic benefits by reducing body fat and improving physical appearance.

Arguments Against Steroid Use:

  • The health risks associated with steroid use, including liver damage, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, and infertility, outweigh any potential benefits.
  • The use of steroids gives athletes an unfair advantage and undermines the integrity of the sport.
  • Steroids are often used without medical supervision or in excessive doses, which can lead to serious health consequences.
  • Steroid use is often stigmatized and can lead to psychological distress and a negative impact on mental health.


In conclusion, while some argue that steroids have potential benefits, the risks and ethical concerns associated with their use cannot be ignored. It is important for individuals to carefully weigh the risks and potential consequences before deciding to use steroids. Anyone considering the use of steroids should speak with a healthcare professional and obtain a prescription if steroids are deemed necessary for medical reasons. The use of steroids in sports is banned by most organizations, and athletes who use steroids may face legal and reputational consequences.