Steroid Abuse: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 8/21/2020

Steroid abuse refers to the misuse of anabolic steroids, drugs that are a type of performance-enhancing drug or medication. These drugs mimic testosterone in the body to make muscle cells larger and by allowing the body to recover more quickly from exercise. While there are medical conditions that warrant the use of these drugs, use of them to enhance athletic performance is not recommended. Withdrawal effects may occur when they are decreased.

Some of the effects, signs, and symptoms associated with steroid abuse include

Other associated risks can include

Women may also experience

  • loss of breasts,
  • swelling of the clitoris,
  • a deepened voice,
  • an increased sex drive,
  • problems with periods, or
  • hair loss.

Causes of steroid abuse

People often use steroids to improve their athletic performance, increase muscle mass, or lose body fat. These drugs are addictive.

Other steroid abuse symptoms and signs

  • An Increased Sex Drive in Women
  • Baldness
  • Breast Development (Gynecomastia) in Males
  • Deepened Voice in Women
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Facial Hair Growth in Women and Body Hair Growth
  • Hair Loss in Women
  • Infertility
  • Loss of Breasts in Women
  • Problems With Periods
  • Reduced Sperm Count
  • Severe Acne
  • Shrunken Testicles
  • Stomach Pain
  • Swelling of the Clitoris


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.