Ok, so one of the common joked about side effects of anabolic steroid use is the classic “little penis” syndrome, where your penis supposedly shrinks up and gets smaller. We see this used all the time in everything from movies to sitcoms. Does this “joke” have any basis in reality or is it just another popular misconception about anabolic steroid use?
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In fact like any popular reference, there is a hint of truth to this myth, but it isn’t at all about the size of your penis, in fact has to do with the testicles. The testicles are responsible for producing the majority of a mans testosterone, therefore when the body senses more than enough testosterone being available (or testosterone analogs like anabolic steroids) in the hypothalamus, it works on a messenger system that controls the entire testosterone releasing process. This process involves the hypothalamus sending a messenger to the pituitary gland which then releases the chemical messengers follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), collectively known as gonadotropins. These then make their way to the testicles and in turn increase sperm production and testosterone production respectively. Now, when a person takes higher than normal levels of androgens like anabolic steroids, the hypothalamus, sensing there is enough “testosterone” like androgens in the body, reduces these hormones and there for effectively shuts off the testes from making it’s own testosterone. The testes left in this state for 2-12 weeks, will naturally shrink from 10-40% to conserve themselves. Actually, there are studies showing that this “shut down” is not damaging, it actually prolongs the life of the testes and increases their functional life. The “shrinking effect” however is what propagated the myth.
If shrinking is inevitable on a cycle of steroids, what can we do to reverse this as quickly as possible after a cycle of steroids? Popular belief uses anything from time, which we know works, to herbal agents like tribulus, to over the counter testosterone boosters like Formadrol or even prescription breast cancers drugs like Tamoxifen Citrate! These agents are all meant to boost the stimulation of LH and FSH by reducing estrogen.
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