DOPING AND STERILITY: This is how anabolic steroids affect reproductive health, researcher says

Be warned. Substances that sportspeople abuse to enhance their performance can tamper with performance on the home front, experts have said.

Kenya has lately been in global focus on matters doping. About 43 have failed doping tests in the past three years, but athletics insiders say more are out there, yet to be caught. When the whole list of cheats is finally released, it will shake athletics to its foundation, people with information, but cannot be named, confide.

A lot of talk about negative effects of anabolic steroids on reproductive health is going on, in hushed tones. Stories abound about athletes who cannot bear children or are unable to get children since becoming professional.

“Look at (name withheld). The only child they have is the one she got before becoming a professional athlete. (names withheld) don’t have children at all...” goes the story. Issues of procreation are very sensitive, not just in an African setting, but the world over.

Stories are also told about male athletes, whose reproductive organs have been incapacitated or are hardly functioning because of years of drug abuse to enhance performance on the field. According to people who deal with professional athletes on a day to day basis, drug abusers are lucky when they get away with tampering with the reproductive organs. Up to five athletes have died in the Rift valley under circumstances akin to deaths caused by drug abuse.

Mahmoud Merali, consultant counselling psychologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, says athletes may not be aware of the risks and side effects of drug abuse in the short and long term.

“The perception of the need to use outweighs the perception of the risks. The immediate need outweighs the risks. The human mind always justifies what one wants.

“They eventually shut off consciously or sub-consciously the risk factors and focus on immediate gains,” he says. “I will use it now for the race and stop,” they race. Then the next race comes and the vicious circle follows. They think that the side effects cannot happen to them. “After all many others are doing the same,” they justify.

When taken too much, and for too long, drugs have side effects. They can affect performance, changes blood circulation, and when not there, the body cannot perform in sport or sex. Just like Viagra with sex. Without it abusers cannot perform.

He advises athletes to just perform to natural ability or build natural performance by natural substitutes like diet.

Researchers say abusers of performance-enhancing drugs must be very much afraid of these substances.

Antti Perheentupa, (M.D. h.c., Docent Reproductive Medicine and Andrology Specialist Doctor of Gynecopathies, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Turku University Hospital Biomedical department/Physiology, University of Turku, Finland) has interesting findings that athletes aspiring to cut their teeth in professional sports must read.

“Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) have for years been the most used substances for improving muscle strength, mass and performance. Most users are not competitive athletes, and unfortunately a portion of the users are teenagers.

“When using steroids, users try to maximize the anabolic (tissues growth stimulating) effect and minimize the androgenic (male type) effect. The anabolic/androgenic ratio of testosterone is one to one. In actual anabolic steroids, this ratio varies and can be even over 30.

“It is not possible to avoid androgyny but it is strongly dependent on the dosage and how long steroids are used. To maximize the desired effects and avoid side effects, other hormone preparations are usually used simultaneously to help, for example, in preventing breast growth.

“Anabolic androgens have a significant effect on gonadal function.

“The effects are individual-specific: in some users sperm production ceases totally and in others the changes are minor,” says the researcher.


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