Libido as a motivator for starting and restarting non-prescribed anabolic androgenic steroid use among men : a mixed-methods study / Orlanda Harvey, Margarete Parrish, Edwin van Teijlingen, Steven Trenoweth. - (Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 2021, 25 February)
- DOI: 10.1080/09687637.2021.1882940
Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are commonly used for their anabolic effects and the potentially detrimental consequences are well documented. Most studies focus on the motivations of increased muscle development and report increased libido as a secondary motivation. This paper aims to explore users’ reports of libido as a motivator for starting and restarting AAS use. This mixed-methods study comprised questionnaires with 133 adult male AAS users (with 38% selecting increased libido as motivation for using), and 23 semi-structured interviews with a sub-sample. Thematic analysis identified four interlinked themes: increased libido as a motivation for starting/re-starting AAS; increased libido/sexual performance as a beneficial effect; mixed experiences with physicians regarding libido changes and hypogonadism and reduced sexual functioning and fertility after AAS cessation. Increased libido was identified as a benefit by 90% but motivations for use changed over time. Reasons for AAS use included mitigating the effects of aging particularly linked to the concept of virility. AAS as self-medication for low testosterone needs further investigation as does the idea of hegemonic masculinity as a reinforcing driver for AAS use. This study highlights the need to consider how AAS users’ views of medical support impact self-medication choices.