More and more men, including teenagers, are using synthetic testosterone – anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) to build and get bigger. Anabolic steroids increases the testosterone levels within the human body synthetically.
When the body is flooded with testosterone, building muscle bulk is easier. With over 3,000,000 users in the US, use of AAS is very rampant.
There are, however, various side effects that can result from regular usage of these steroids. Anabolic-androgenic steroids not only pose significant risk to long term health, but it also has a bearing on male fertility.
Long-term usage can sometimes even result in permanent sterility.
Why Anabolic Steroids Decreases Natural Testosterone?
Regular use of anabolic steroids for bodybuilding introduces copious amounts of synthetic testosterone in the body. This then sends an indicator to the body that it does not need to produce natural testosterone, thereby causing less and less “natural testosterone” to be produced in the testes.
All this may eventually lead to the testes shutting down testosterone production entirely as the body is self-sufficient in synthetic testosterone.
How Sperm Count is Affected?
As mentioned above, Anabolic-androgenic steroids result in reduced or stoppage of “natural testosterone” production in the testes – this causes the testicle function to be affected, the testicles start shrinking and the spermatogenesis process is interrupted that results in impairment of sperm production.
In simple terms, it means that men taking anabolic-androgenic steroids could have difficulty in fathering a child. Long-term usage can sometimes even result in permanent sterility.
How Long Before Normal Sperm Count is achieved?
This brings us to the moot question – how long will it take for the human body to ensure normalcy in sperm count. The long and short answer is anywhere from one month to a year.
Stopping Anabolic Steroids
It must also be mentioned that stopping anabolic steroids cold turkey without medical guidance could result in “bottoming out” and developing “withdrawal symptoms”, well before the natural testosterone eventually gets to normal levels again.
The “bottoming out” can result in terrible fatigue coupled with low energy and motivation. This is why endocrinologists advocate stopping the steroids under medical supervision.
Methods to Stop Anabolic Steroids
Stop and Wait Approach
This involves stopping all steroids and seeing how your body responds. This approach could result in the semen returning to normal levels within one to three months. However, this can at times lead to hormonal collapse requiring hospitalization and the need for medical support.
Use of oral clomiphene citrate
Clomiphene citrate or Clomid is a pill used to address female infertility. This drug triggers the pituitary gland to generate an increased amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Off-label use of clomiphene citrate in men has been known to increase the production of the pituitary hormone, which stimulates the production of natural testosterone and sperm.
When coupled with gradual steroid tapering, the natural hormones get stimulated quickly, resulting in recovery without much “withdrawal symptoms”. The exact timeframe to recover sperm count is unclear, but should be possible in 6 months to 1 year in most cases.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) like luteinizing hormone (LH) is a powerful stimulant and known to stimulate the hormonal system quicker than Clomid.
Under proper medical guidance, almost all men, can flush out excess synthetic testosterone and achieve normal natural testosterone levels within three to four months.
However, the time frame depends on baseline hormone levels as well as the amount and duration of steroid use. In almost 90% of men, the sperm count reaches normal levels within a year.