Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
In a recent study, researchers compared the reproductive function of past and current androgen abusers with that of a control group of healthy nonusers. The study included men ages 18 to 55 who exercised at least three times a week. The participants were defined as past androgen users if they had stopped using androgens three months ago or less. Men with a history of vasectomy were excluded from the study.
Medical therapy to promote endogenous testicular function
Medical therapy to promote endogenous testicle function is a key component of recovery from androgen abuse. Treatments may include agents that promote pituitary gonadotropin (GnRH) production, aromatase inhibitors, or recombinant or urine-derived FSH. These treatments reduce estrogen receptor-mediated negative feedback and promote spermatogenesis.
The study excluded subjects who used androgens within the previous three months. The participants in the study had low testosterone concentrations and low sperm counts, which are indicative of gonadal dysfunction. While the results of this study may not be applicable to all users, they provide valuable insight for doctors seeking to improve a patient's reproductive function following androgen abuse.
The decline of male reproductive function in Western countries has been linked to a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors. In addition, substance abuse has been linked to altered steroidogenesis, which can alter testicular and hypothalamic-pituitary function. Moreover, certain substances, such as nicotine, affect spermatogenesis, and amphetamines cause oxidative stress and hypogonism.
In animal models, both marijuana and THC have negative effects on testicular function. Acute and chronic administration of THC significantly decreased testosterone formation. In addition, testicular follicles treated with marijuana significantly reduced the expression of the LH receptor and 3b hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.
Post cycle therapy causes androgen abuse
The effects of androgen abuse on the reproductive system are profound, but they are often under-recognized. Taking androgens for prolonged periods of time can result in incomplete recovery, prolonged withdrawal symptoms, and decreased sperm count. In some cases, recovery can be delayed by months or even years.
The effects of androgens are most noticeable in the male body during puberty. They affect hair growth patterns, sebaceous gland activity, sperm maturation, and libido. Testosterone has several metabolic fates, and when metabolized, it becomes 5a-dihydrotestosterone (5DHT). 5DHT acts on androgen receptors and aromatizes to estrogen. Estradiol then has estrogenic effects, including water retention, breast tissue growth, and increase in body fat.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are a broad class of synthetic and natural androgens. Their abuse is common, with a lifetime prevalence of approximately 6% of males. The use of AAS outside of the medical context is rising exponentially. Abuse of AAS can lead to severe HPG axis dysfunction, and a severe decline in testosterone synthesis and secretion. To better understand the causes and consequences of AAS abuse, it is necessary to examine the characteristics of users.
Side effects of anabolic steroids on spermatogenesis
Anabolic steroids can have both positive and negative effects. High testosterone dosages can damage various organs and tissues. The effects of long-term use of anabolic steroids are not known, but they may include cardiovascular effects and other long-term effects.
Among men, use of anabolic steroids is increasing. They are primarily used for building muscles and reducing body fat. However, their use can damage male fertility. The degree of damage depends on the dose and duration of use. In general, men can recover their reproductive function within three to 12 months after stopping anabolic steroid use.
While undergoing treatment with anabolic steroids, it is imperative to understand their role in the body. AASs cause alterations in the synthesis of proteins in the heart and other tissues. This process alters the secretion of LH and FSH, which affects reproductive function.
The long-term use of anabolic steroids can cause hypogonadism, or hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. This condition is associated with impaired spermatogenesis, testicular atrophy, and gynecomastia. The effects of anabolic steroids on sperm production are often not recognized until months or years after cessation of use.
In addition to affecting reproductive function, anabolic steroids can also have other negative effects on male fertility. Light to moderate alcohol consumption does not appear to negatively impact male fertility, but heavy alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone production and increase estrogen levels. Low testosterone affects sperm production, which can lead to low sperm count.
Cost of medical therapy to promote endogenous testicular function
In addition to restoring reproductive function, medical therapy to promote endogenous testicle function also improves libido. This therapy also corrects structural deficits in bone, marrow, and muscle. This therapy is available for male and female patients and can improve a patient's quality of life.
The recovery of reproductive function following androgen abuse is not always straightforward. It is dependent on the kind of androgens and the period of withdrawal from them. However, there is evidence that the recovery is possible. Recovery may be slow, incomplete, or a combination of both.
In the study, past and current androgen abusers were compared with healthy nonuser control participants for reproductive and cardiac function. The participants were 18 to 55 years old and had an average age at the time of the first and last use. They were considered past androgen users if they had stopped using the drugs for three months or more. They were also matched on the duration of abuse, delivery methods, and quality of life questionnaires.
The recovery time after androgen abuse is very slow, but it varies. It can take between nine to 18 months for a man to regain a full range of reproductive function. It has been estimated that around six percent of men and 13 percent of athletes report using anabolic-androgenic steroids. This figure is rising worldwide, especially among high school students.
In the study, 41 men who were taking androgens for three months or more were evaluated. The remaining 21 men were healthy, regularly-exercising men who had not taken androgens. Participants underwent physical examinations, testicular ultrasound, and blood and semen samples. The researchers noted that men who were currently using androgens had smaller testicle size and lower levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is the hormone that causes testosterone production in men. Another hormone associated with reproductive function is called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).