What's known on the subject? and What does the study add? The negative impact of AAS abuse on male fertility is well known by urologists. The secondary hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is often highlighted when AAS and fertility are being discussed. On the other hand, the patterns of use, mechanisms of action and direct effects over the testicle are usually overseen. The present study reviews the vast formal and "underground" culture of AAS, as well as their overall implications. Specific considerations about their impact on the male reproductive system are made, with special attention to the recent data on direct damage to the testicle. To our knowledge this kind of overview is absolutely unique, offering a distinguished set of information to the day-by-day urologists. For several decades, testosterone and its synthetic derivatives have been used with anabolic and androgenic purposes. Initially, these substances were restricted to professional bodybuilders, becoming gradually more popular among recreational power athletes. Currently, as many as 3 million anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) users have been reported in the United States, and considering its increasing prevalence, it has become an issue of major concern. Infertility is defined as the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse, with male factor being present in up to 50% of all infertile couples. Several conditions may be related to male infertility. Substance abuse, including AAS, is commonly associated to transient or persistent impairment on male reproductive function, through different pathways. Herein, a brief overview on AAS, specially oriented to urologists, is offered. Steroids biochemistry, patterns of use, physiological and clinical issues are enlightened. A further review about fertility outcomes among male AAS abusers is also presented, including the classic reports on transient axial inhibition, and the more recent experimental reports on structural and genetic sperm damage.
Androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) have been misused by athletes at the Olympic Games, both before and after they were prohibited in sport in 1974. Systematic doping with AAS occurred in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1965 to 1989 which assisted that country to win many medals at Olympic Games, especially in female events. Currently, AAS are the most frequent category of prohibited substances detected in the urine of athletes both globally and at the last two Summer Olympic Games. Scientific confirmation that AAS are effective in enhancing sports performance was difficult because ethical approval was difficult for research involving male subjects taking massive doses of androgens as some athletes and bodybuilders did. Methods to detect AAS have evolved gradually over the past three decades and currently, despite an impressive array of sophisticated analytical equipment and methods, anti-doping authorities and analytical scientists continue to face challenges as have occurred from the use by athletes of designer AAS during the past few years. The future development and use of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) can be anticipated to pose problems in the years ahead. Endocrinologists should be aware that on occasions, replacement testosterone (T) therapy may be authorized in sport as a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) and these circumstances are discussed.