Erectile dysfunction (ED) can affect men of all ages, although it is more common in men over the age of 40. There are a number of known causes, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Psychological problems can also be to blame, such as stress, depression and anxiety.
However, another less-known cause of ED is the incorrect use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS). These are often used to enhance athletic performance, but they are controlled substances and should not be taken without a prescription. Most professional sports organisations ban the use of AAS.
However, there is a significant black market in AAS among body-conscious men who use them as a shortcut to achieving a fashionable lean but muscular torso. They can help to boost muscle mass and strength in a short period of time, but they carry the risk of serious side effects, including ED, blood clots, heart attacks, and high cholesterol.
One former doctor has described steroid use as “the next big crisis.” Dr Luke Evans, a qualified medical doctor and also the current Conservative MP for Bosworth, told the Irish Times: “As a doctor over the last 10 or 15 years I started seeing more and more young men coming to my clinics asking to be prescribed protein powders… how do I bulk up.”
He added: “Also I started to see more and more men in their 20s, 30s and 40s who were using steroids and having the side effects of it.”
“Some might have simply been bad acne, scarring acne, mood problems, depression, but I have seen those who’ve had strokes, heart attacks, liver problems, kidney problems and erectile dysfunction. Now, these are all things that aren’t really talked about when it comes to steroids.”
Dr Evans said that the pressure for men to conform to a so-called ideal body shape is getting worse, particularly since the rise in social media. For decades, women have been held to artificial standards of beauty, with many spending years in pursuit of a slimmer or curvier body shape. However, the male body is now under almost as much scrutiny.
Dr Evans said: “We’re seeing images of muscular men that people want to aspire to and there’s a good, cheap way of getting there and that’s a real concern.”
He added: “If I was that young boy with my multigym at the age of 15, now with an online ability to get hold of it, the ever-growing social media pressure to conform, to have those muscles, maybe I would have been tempted and that’s a scary thought for our generations that are coming through.”
The phenomenon of male body dissatisfaction has been labelled ‘bigorexia’ by the media, but it may also be described as body dysmorphia. Sufferers feel under pressure to conform to unrealistic body shapes and may be willing to gamble with their long-term health in the pursuit of a more muscular and athletic figure.
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