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The dangers of using Viagra and steroids before gym

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Doctors are warning of a trend among young Kenyan gym-goers who are now using male enhancement pills to increase their exercise performance.

The young gym enthusiasts say the drugs help them increase their endurance.

In an interview with Nation Lifestyle, 30-year-old bodybuilder Antony Gachau revealed the medication used for erectile dysfunction forms a core part of his pre-workout pills, which also consist of a supplement that increases muscle performance in short-duration, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, and bicarbonate of soda.

“The blue pill is the ultimate pre-workout ever made. It gives you one hell of a pump and crazy endurance,” Antony said.

However, doctors say the male enhancement pills and steroids taken to enhance athletic performance, is a worrying issue.

“I go to the gym myself, and I see people talking and using all these things—sexual performance-enhancing drugs. The drugs make blood vessels open up wider, allowing more blood to flow in the system easily, and make the gym-goers perform better in the sport,” says Dr Francis Mbugua of the Nairobi Spine and Orthopedic Center.

Side effects

Before considering how Viagra might be linked to performance in the gym, think of the side effects.

“The risk of it is becoming dependent (on the drugs) plus the risk of having cardiac problems because all those things affect the heart in the end. Especially on things you do that have to affect the blood vessels, in the end, you overload the heart. That’s why it’s not recommended,” he says.

Dr Mbugua blames the trend on the rise of misinformation and disinformation.

“One of the biggest problems we have in this day and age is that there is too much information about these drugs, not from specialists, but online. Many people do things because they heard something somewhere without proper research. There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there that people consume and take to be gospel truth and thus risk harming themselves,” he says.


Steroids abuse

Steroid usage is another problem.

There has also been an increase in steroid abuse, especially in the Kenyan bodybuilding industry.

Dr Mbugua warns that those who use steroids to boost gym performance and grow body muscle have a price to pay.

“Lifting weights and good nutrition takes a long time because it will follow the normal patterns of building muscles, which is rebuild, repair, and repeat, that takes time. But when one uses anabolic steroids (lab-made) what you are doing is supplementing the naturally occurring steroids in the body, which takes time with the way the body wants to work,” he says.

What that does is trigger a fast pace of steroid execution.

“These pills that have been designed in the lab will fast-track the process of naturally occurring body steroid functionality because now you have more steroids than you surely have in your body. So they will speed up the repair and rebuild process of muscle. And two, they will increase the muscle size quicker,” he says.

“That’s the reason they use them—it fast tracks that process. You will find there is a competition coming up and during that period, one wants to bulk up and work towards being in peak physical form by the time of the contest,” he adds.

However, they have a dark side.

“The problem with steroids is that there are hormones and your body has steroids so when you increase that hormone, at some point you will start having side effects which include from causing the heart to eventually start shutting down, increasing your risk of stroke, causing liver failure, kidney failure, to making your bones begin getting softer and softer, thus becoming more weaker,” he says.

For men, the doctor says even the male genitals will be hugely affected.


Penile shrinkage

“This is a side effect most people wouldn’t talk about; you will end up reducing the size of your testicles and all the organs around there. Or if that doesn’t happen, there will be a reduction in the amount of sperm you produce, which is a big deal for men, however, they still do it (abuse steroids) for the aesthetic body physique,” he says.

Dr Mbugua also notes that with time, the use of steroids becomes addictive, which is not good news.

“It does get addictive because your body becomes used to this new level of hormones once you withdraw, which confuses your system, and so you start having withdrawal symptoms because of that. There are a lot of people who have been reported to have developed sociological issues where they become easily angered or have moody issues because of that reversal process," he adds.

Dr Gitobu Mburugu, a urologist consultant, says, "Ideally, what the blue pill does is dilute the blood in the blood vessels, and that’s why it’s used in mitigating erection issues. There hasn’t been a study yet done on such misuse of the drug [for instance as a preworkout], thus I wouldn’t be able to offer a conclusive medical explanation in regards to that kind of misuse,”  he said.

"What I know is that gym goers mix pre-workout supplements with a whole lot of things. It could be that the little blue pill is one of those; however, I have yet to hear of that kind of use."