By Thomas Whitfield

Rates of steroid use among gay men has changed in recent years, including increases in the amount of people using and using at a younger age. They seem to be more popular than ever, with social media tags in the millions. Whether you agree with using them or not, it begs the question of “why?” Are gay men trying to build exteriors to ward off attackers, to meet the stereotype of what it means to be a “man,” or is it about aesthetics and insecurities? Research on gay men has pointed to all of the above as being associated with steroid use.

I work out at a predominantly gay gym in midtown, and everyone there seems to be huge. One day I asked a cute guy what his secret is, and he point blank just said “steroids.” I was sort of shocked, because I thought that was something that only bodybuilders do. Are steroids more common than I think? – Male, Gay, 25

Studies show that as many as 20% of gay and bisexual men who work out have used anabolic steroids in the last six months. This is far higher than the reported 1-4% among heterosexual men who work out. Furthermore, men who live near major metropolitan cities are more likely to have had recent use. So yeah, it’s entirely possible that at least some of the guys at your gym are using or have recently used steroids.

A few of my friends have recently started using steroids (“tren,” I think), and they seem to love it. I’m trying to figure out if I want to use them too or not. I mean, their bodies look amazing, and they said they haven’t had any side effects. The whole needle thing definitely has me nervous. What do you think? – Male, Gay, 33

Working out and seeing results in your 30s is much harder than in your 20s. It can totally be frustrating. I think there are a few things you might want to consider. Anyone who says there are no side effects is not telling you the entire truth. Taking aspirin or cough syrup can have side effects, so shooting something into your body absolutely can too. I’d recommend you read up on the possible side effects and decide if it’s worth it to you. Only you can answer that question. There are also lots of things you can do to avoid side effects, so do your research. The larger questions you should ask yourself are “why do I want to” and “what about my life do I think they will change?” You mentioned your friends’ bodies look great. Is that why you’re considering it? If so, that’s fine, but be honest with yourself. How do you think having that body for a few months, before you have to do another cycle, is going to change your life? Honestly, I think needles are probably something people get used to, but do your homework so you don’t hurt yourself.


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