Steroids and Young Men – Why A “Quick Fix” Isn’t Worth It

steroidsAthletes are often great heroes and role models for young people and kids. Perseverance, hard work, dedication, devotion, sacrifice, delayed gratification are all great concepts to learn from watching others’ success. There is a reason we love to hear the stories of athletes who overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve success. It is inspiring. It gives us hope. It lets us be part of that dream.

Unfortunately, every now and then, there is also the talk about athletes who took the short cuts and gained an advantage through using illegal drugs, steroids, hormones and supplements.   It can be really painful when a national sports icon is discovered to have not only cheated the system, but also cheated the public of a hero.

The temptation to use medicine as a means to gain an advantage is strong.  This lure of a quick fix is very common in professional sports and collegiate sports. But worst of all, the culture of altering body chemistry pervades even the youngest levels of sports.

I have been working with several young men who started using steroids and hormones in high school to bulk up and gain a competitive edge athletically.  Many of them did not use steroids for hormones for very long at all. Sadly, these guys had no idea that using steroids, or some form of testosterone, was going to be a decision which haunted them the rest of their lives.

What nobody tells these athletes is that once you start taking steroids to boost testosterone you might never be able to turn back. Tinkering with body chemistry and hormones is risky business.  When you artificially boost testosterone, your testicles stop making it. The testicles shut down. The testicles shrink, sperm production stops, and if this goes on long enough, some men even will lose the ability to get erections.  It is a gamble whether or not these conditions are reversible. Many men end up on artificial testosterone for the rest of their lives.

I was working with a doctor in St. Louis who was inventing a new form of ED drug. He had made videos of men using the drug and then showed the results. One could not help but notice that all the subjects were young men in incredible physical shape. I asked the doctor who they were and how he found them.  Apparently they were all male models who had used steroids to get and maintain their physique. These guys were in their 20s and 30s and had complete erectile dysfunction from steroid use.

He said that seeing these young men with complete ED was simply tragic. Their sex lives were changed forever. No one had ever told them that steroid and testosterone use could, and eventually would, make them both sterile and impotent. These guys paid an awfully high price for muscle definition.

So next time you hear the TV pundits rail against the scandals of steroids in sports, remind the young men in your life that scandal has nothing to do with it. Steroids destroy lives.

Paul Nelson

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Paul is an AASECT certified sexuality educator and a clinical medical assistant.  He is president of the Erectile Dysfunction Foundation, and founder of, the largest online community for men’s sexual dysfunctions and maintains a private practice at  He works in New York City with Dr. Michael Werner ( as a patient/sexuality educator.  Paul is an instructor at the Institute for Sexuality Education and Enlightenment. He is an advocate for men’s reproductive health and has appeared on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the BBC, and the New York Times. Paul is a member of the AUA, ISSM, AASECT, and SMSNA.
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