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from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Diseases & Conditions



Staying Healthy

The Risks of Steroid Use

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Some athletes use steroids — synthetic hormones that can boost muscle mass — in an attempt to improve their athletic performance. Others, especially adolescents and young adults, may use these drugs to enhance their physical appearance. While anabolic steroids may increase the size of your muscles and improve your athletic performance, the risks to your health and well being are significant.

Seven Reasons to Avoid Using Steroids

1) If you are a young man, steroid use may:

  • Give you acne
  • Cause your hair to fall out
  • Shrink your testicles

2) Young women taking steroids may experience:

  • Facial hair growth
  • A lower voice
  • Irregular menstrual periods

3) If you are still growing, anabolic steroids may permanently stunt your growth.

4) Medical experiments in animals show that anabolic steroids may weaken your tendons. Muscles are connected to bones by tendons.

5) Steroid use is a hard habit to break, as you need to continue taking the drug to maintain the new muscle size.

6) Anabolic steroids can make you uncontrollably aggressive and combative, even with the people you love. Steroid abusers often have arrest records. Although the psychological effects are reversed when steroids are discontinued, the social scars will remain.

7) When you stop taking the drugs, you may get deeply depressed. Many former steroid abusers tell of suicide attempts.

An Ugly Result

While steroid use may improve your muscles, and perhaps your performance, how much better will you look and feel with pimples and hair loss? How much better will you perform on a team if a tendon ruptures and you are out for the season?

In addition to the serious health risks, using steroids to enhance athletic performance is illegal and banned by sports organizations. Athletes caught taking anabolic steroids are disqualified from participation.

If you are thinking of taking anabolic steroids, think again. The risks to your health and your athletic future are significant!

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Reviewed by members of
POSNA (Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America)

The Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) is a group of board eligible/board certified orthopaedic surgeons who have specialized training in the care of children's musculoskeletal health. 
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Learn more about this topic at POSNA's OrthoKids website:

Steroid Use

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Last Reviewed

December 2013

AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.