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Every Terrible Thing Steroids Do to Your Balls

Sex and babies are overrated, right?

Are your balls too big? Giant, even? Do they get in the way of your workouts, necessitating you hauling them about in a large, velvet-lined wheelbarrow? Would you rather have a completely out-of-whack ball-to-muscle-size ratio? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, there’s a fairly simple fix for all your testicular insecurity: Steroids!

That’s right — if you want cute, palmable balls that will neatly fit in your compression shorts with no visible bulge, all you have to do is get yourself on a daily regimen of artificial testosterone.

There’s only one problem: Your balls aren’t just shrinking in size, they’re also degenerating. This medical condition is referred to as testicular atrophy — a condition in which there’s abnormal shrinkage of the testicles. And according to the how-could-you-not-trust-them-with-a-name-like-that Big Natural Testicles, one study of 500 steroid users found that nearly two-thirds of them experienced this type of shrinkage.

But how is it that something used to make your muscles bigger causes your balls to shrivel up into raisins? Simple: “When the testosterone level is artificially increased by uptake of steroids, the bio-chemical signals that control the body’s hormone cycle gets out of balance,” reports the also-amazingly-named Don’t Cook Your Balls.

L.A. endocrinologist John O’Dea uses the metaphor of a truck towing a car to better explain why steroids cause shrinkage. “If someone was towing your car with a truck, your engine would turn off, right? Anabolic steroids is the truck towing your car,” explains O’Dea. In other words, even though your body is being pumped with more (artificial) testosterone, because it thinks that it no longer needs to produce testosterone the old fashioned way, the concentration of testosterone that used to exist in your testicles becomes significantly lower. Hence, the shrinkage.

Furthermore, O’Dea says that different side effects from taking steroids can happen at different times. “Some affect the mind and happen very rapidly,” says O’Dea. “For example, mania can happen after just a few days.” Other side effects, though — like ball shrinkage — take considerably longer to manifest, he explains.

Now, maybe you’re still weighing the pros and cons, wondering whether slightly smaller balls are worth significantly larger muscles. Here’s the thing, though: It’s not just the size of your testicles that’s being affected. One study from 1989 found that “percentages of motile and normally formed sperm were significantly reduced in bodybuilders (who were taking anabolic steroids) compared with normal volunteers,” according to — another big hand for the name — Big Natural Testicles. In fact, steroids are so effective in their anti-conception symptoms that some researchers have suggested using androgen (a male sex hormone)-based steroids in a male contraceptive pill.

According to Healthline, testicular atrophy is also likely to cause a decreased sex drive, meaning that, even if you wanted to have kids, your tiny balls and their associated problems will stop you from getting in the mood required to create your tiny-testicled offspring.

Luckily, if you’re already on a regular regimen of steroids and you’ve noticed your balls are shrinking/you can’t remember the last time you wanted to have sex, there’s at least one way to reverse the effects. O’Dea says that Arimidex, a medication normally used to treat breast cancer, can help block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and therefore, lessen the testicular side effects of steroids. “Once a patient stops taking steroids, I may also consider giving them HCG [human chorionic gonadotropin] injections to help crank up their own testosterone production,” says O’Dea.

Still, O’Dea isn’t likely to help you if you’re still using the juice. “It’s not ethical, I don’t believe in any of it,” he adds. So do yourself a favor: Put down the syringe and pick up a dumbbell. It may take a little longer, but at least no one can tell you you’ve got no balls.