Muscle growth is desirable for many different reasons, from aesthetic reasons to fitness desires, lean muscle is considered a healthy attribute. Due to time, energy, and effort constraints, as well as genetics, muscle growth is difficult to achieve. Supplementary drugs can be used to assist with fitness goals.
Supplements are used to assist where nutrients are difficult to access via food, or extracts are added from sources other than food. These may be in liquid form, powders or pills. Whilst most supplements are legal, some supplements, such as anabolic steroids are illegal, and users are recommended to fully understand the health consequences before consuming. This blog entry will explore the basic roles some popular supplements are taken for, and the fertility consequences, if any.
Tribulus terrestris– this particular supplement is derived from a plant species, manufacturers claim that the drug supposedly enhances gains in muscle strength and lean muscle mass. This plant extract is linked to increased libido, testosterone synthesis and higher sperm counts. Tribulus contains saponins which suppress natural hormone receptors, thus increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) which stimulates testosterone synthesis in the testes.
ZMA (Zinc monomethionine aspartate)- this supplement is supported by clinical research to be effective in assisting muscle recovery times, enhancing strength and size of muscles and potentially aiding the burning of fat. This supplement has been linked to improved sleep quality and directly boosting testosterone levels due to the high zinc content.
Creatine– this supplement is a naturally occurring substance which helps make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the ‘energy currency’ in the human body. Creatine is linked with increased muscle strength, lean muscle mass, and muscle recovery. Some studies have linked creatine use with the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which can lead to male pattern baldness, prostate enlargement and heightened expression of male sexual behavior.
Steroids– performance enhancing drugs (PED) or anabolic steroids are synthetic androgenic hormones which artificially increase blood testosterone, increasing secondary sex characteristics such as aggression and muscle mass. Steroids interfere with the natural feedback inhibition loop in the testes, where the brain sense that too much testosterone is being produced and stops releasing the relevant hormones essential for sexual health and sperm production.
In conclusion, supplements should be regulated by the relevant governing bodies in order to ensure that the consumer is aware of the products they are consuming and the ingredients contained within. Correct doses must be set and followed as instructed and supplements should not be taken during puberty.