As soon as you go off steroids, your body goes back to where it was before taking the steroids. The effects of steroid usage will not be permanent even if you are getting only 1mg/day during treatment, which is why you should plan ahead while using oral or injectable anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS).
Bodybuilders who have been using AAS for a long time have very little chance of becoming natural again because they have already burned so many bridges in terms of their hormonal system. If you are on 1mg per day (or anything lower than that), then your chances of going back to normal are slightly higher than someone who has used about 500mcg-1mg per week for many years.
If you have only been on AAS for a year or two, then your chances of going back to normal are much greater than someone who has used anabolic steroids for 5-10 years. So basically, the longer you use steroids and the higher dose you take per week is what will make it harder to go back to normal.
“Anabolic steroid (AS) therapy entails the administration of naturally occurring and synthetic hormones that share a similar chemical structure and similar actions in order to promote tissue growth and development, stimulate appetite, maintain weight gain following extensive surgery or severe trauma, and treat certain diseases such as anemia.” (Source: http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/utilities/glossary/as)
So what happens when you don’t take any steroids, and your body goes back to its previous state?
There are many changes that will occur, all of which we do not fully understand at the moment. When you go off AAS, some of the following might happen:
You will lose muscle mass very quickly (especially if you are taking large amounts). You will gain fat several times quicker than before. You will start producing more cortisol more often than before, even when resting. The amount of testosterone in your system will drop down to several percent compared to before . While on steroids, estrogen levels also dropped since they were suppressed by exogenous testosterone. Due to an increase in androgens, estrogen levels will also increase due to the aromatase effect. This can cause side effects such as gynecomastia and water retention. There might be a chance of experiencing post-steroid depression (similar experience as Post-Finasteride Syndrome).
Decreased sperm count and quality. Menstrual cycles might become irregular or stop completely, which means that women who were menstruating while on anabolic steroids may become infertile after they go off AAS because there will not be enough follicular development even if they were to take female hormones (i.e., progesterone).
As you can see, going off AAS has many more side effects than staying on them. People tend to think that because the side effects are reversible, it is not a big deal to take them because you can always stop. It is important to consider the fact that permanent side effects do occur even with small doses/short periods of intake. This means that just because you stopped using AAS 5 years ago does not mean that all your previous problems have been resolved.
If you plan on taking AAS for more than one year, then it becomes even harder to go off because your body has adapted to being in an AAS state over that whole time period. Since our bodies function normally when we are natural (not taking exogenous steroids), our metabolism will be working at 100% instead of 50-70%. The amount of muscle mass you could gain while on AAS will be double or triple because testosterone does not affect insulin-like it affects other hormones such as cortisol.
It is very important to remember the fact that you cannot undo the damage done by steroid use even if you go back to normal since all of your important organs (e.g., liver, heart, kidneys) have already adapted to a certain hormone state and may become worse off after going back.
If you take into consideration the following: (1) permanent organ and endocrine damage can occur even with small doses; (2) stay natural for life if possible so as to avoid side effects from low testosterone production; and (3) permanent deficits in performance because these drugs alter metabolism permanently, then it might be a better idea to not take them in the first place.
As you can see, it is very important to not only look at what happens during intake as well as after cessation of AAS use but also at all the effects that accompany those periods. There are many factors to consider when looking at steroid use and its consequences, so it is important to do thorough research and form personal opinions instead of just trying things out and following trends without thinking for yourself and taking full responsibility for your actions. Bad choices will lead to irreversible problems, whereas good choices will provide somewhat more flexibility even if they may cause short-term discomfort.