Supplemental steroids, testosterone may lower men's sperm counts

accreditation
Steroids and testosterone may have unwanted side effects.
Steroids and testosterone may have unwanted side effects.

Men who abuse hormones such as testosterone or steroids for bodybuilding can have declines in sperm and testosterone production, researchers say.

The good news: these changes seem to reverse once men stop hormone overuse.

Effect on men's reproductive function

While the use of non-prescribed male hormones (androgens) has surged in many wealthy countries, there has been little research into their effect on men's reproductive function, including sperm production, testosterone and fertility, according to lead researcher Nandini Shankara Narayana. She's an endocrinologist at the University of Sydney and Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Australia.

The study of 93 men included 41 who were currently using testosterone or steroids; 31 who had used them three or more months before the study; and 21 healthy men who exercised regularly and did not use androgens.

Compared with men who had stopped using the hormones or who had never taken them, current users had significantly smaller testicles, on average, and lower sperm output, the study found.

Current users also had lower levels of luteinizing hormone, which is involved in testosterone production, and of follicle-stimulating hormone, which is involved in sperm production, the findings showed.

Little prognostic info available

Former users did not differ from men who had never taken the supplements in terms of sperm production and hormone levels, indicating complete recovery, according to the study presented Monday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, in New Orleans.

On average, luteinizing hormone levels recovered within nine months after men stopped taking the supplements. Sperm output returned to normal in about 14 months and follicle-stimulating hormone levels normalized in nearly 19 months, the findings showed.

"These results will help endocrinologists involved in care of men who are using typically non-prescribed, high doses of androgens for bodybuilding, a practice that is increasingly recognised but for which virtually no prognostic information has been available to support medical care during recovery from androgen abuse," Shankara Narayana said in an Endocrine Society news release.

Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 1635 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
53% - 8593 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
34% - 5549 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 527 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.17
+0.5%
Rand - Pound
19.63
+0.0%
Rand - Euro
16.59
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.0%
Gold
1,802.29
0.0%
Silver
20.82
0.0%
Palladium
2,227.50
0.0%
Platinum
966.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
98.15
-1.5%
Top 40
63,996
-1.0%
All Share
70,731
-0.8%
Resource 10
64,048
-2.8%
Industrial 25
86,577
-0.6%
Financial 15
16,059
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE