Aims: Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is highly prevalent among male recreational athletes. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of AAS abuse on reproductive hormone levels and symptoms suggestive of hypogonadism in current and former AAS abusers. Methods: This study had a cross-sectional case-control design and involved 37 current AAS abusers, 33 former AAS abusers (mean (95%CI) elapsed duration since AAS cessation: 2.5 (1.7; 3.7) years) and 30 healthy control participants. All participants were aged 18-50 years and were involved in recreational strength training. Reproductive hormones (FSH, LH, testosterone, inhibin B and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH)) were measured using morning blood samples. Symptoms of hypogonadism (depressive symptoms, fatigue, decreased libido and erectile dysfunction) were recorded systematically. Results: Former AAS abusers exhibited significantly lower median (25th-75th percentiles) total and free testosterone levels than control participants (total testosterone: 14.4 (11.9-17.7) nmol/l vs. 18.8 (16.6-22.0) nmol/l) (P < 0.01). Overall, 27.2%(13.3; 45.5) of former AAS abusers exhibited plasma total testosterone levels below the lower reference limit (12.1 nmol/l) whereas no control participants exhibited testosterone below this limit (P < 0.01). Gonadotropins were significantly suppressed, and inhibin B and AMH were significantly decreased in current AAS abusers compared with former AAS abusers and control participants (P < 0.01). The group of former AAS abusers had higher proportions of participants with depressive symptoms ((24.2%) (11.1; 42.2)), erectile dysfunction ((27.3%) (13.3; 45.6)) and decreased libido ((40.1%) (23.2; 57.0)) than the other two groups (trend analyses: P < 0.05). Conclusions: Former AAS abusers exhibited significantly lower plasma testosterone levels and higher frequencies of symptoms suggestive of hypogonadism than healthy control participants years after AAS cessation. Current AAS abusers exhibited severely decreased AMH and inhibin B indicative of impaired spermatogenesis.
Rasmussen, J. J., Selmer, C., østergren, P. B., Pedersen, K. B., Schou, M., Gustafsson, F., … Kistorp, C. (2016). Former abusers of anabolic androgenic steroids exhibit decreased testosterone levels and hypogonadal symptoms years after cessation: A case-control study. PLoS ONE, 11(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161208