Steroids can leave life-long damage for teenagers - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Steroids can leave life-long damage for teenagers

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Trainer Ryan Bruggeman mixes training on the weight room floor with cardio high up in the air. He's in great shape, but his path to fitness began much, much differently as a teenager.

"I started taking some you know, black market steroids, just following whatever the biggest guy at the gym told me to do," he says.

"I built and growing up from a fat kid who didn't get any attention from girls to a guy who really spent his time developing his physique at one point. The attention was enough for me," he remembers from his youth. "I felt like I was 'the man.' "

"You may be ahead for a little while, but you're not going to be ahead when it really counts for you," said Dr. Pallavi Iyer, who is a pediatric endocrinologist at All Children's Hospital. She was not Ryan's doctor, but says teens taking performance enhancing drugs like testosterone put their health at risk.

"You go through your puberty early, you go through your growth early," she says.

Steroids can potentially stunt your growth. Too much of the hormone signals the body to shut down and stop making it.

"The part that's the most scary is a lot of time you don't know, you don't see these effects right away and it's a lot of things that are hidden," she says.

The effects can take years to manifest. For Ryan, it started with mood swings that eventually got worse.

"I was just all over the place you know one day I felt like I was a Greek God and the next day I felt like my world was falling apart," he said.

According to the Taylor Hooten foundation, those extreme mood swings can sometimes lead to suicide, ending the lives of promising, young athletes.

"I think too many people take shortcuts without taking care of everything else, they want to take the magic pill and potion."

Ryan says it's tempting to look for that quick fix. He says his symptoms included those often associated with much older men.

"I don't think I paid the price until later on, later in my twenties, my libido had dropped, my energy levels had changed...mental clarity was going," he said.

That's because Ryan's body doesn't make enough testosterone. He was concerned he couldn't father a child. To correct the imbalance, his doctor prescribes injections, hormone replacement therapy.

The treatment is working. Ryan and his fiance Sylvia are expecting their first child.

Now, Ryan wants to warn others of the unintended lifelong consequences that come with using steroids. He believes the key to fitness comes with a healthy diet and a balanced work-out schedule.

"Good things come to those who wait, and you may fail a million times, but it's not giving up that makes you a success in the long run," he says.

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