When adolescent changes appear to spurt ahead at warp speed, parents should consider whether or not their teenager is taking steroids. Unfortunately this over-simplification doesn't always work, because kids mature at different times, at different rates, and sometimes even under differing social environments, with competitive sports and “looking good” often in the mix.
Puberty is due to a perfectly balanced steroid storm. Both testosterone and estrogen are natural hormones, based biochemically on a steroidal structural backbone, and they are responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics and behaviors. Actually, at all stages of our lives, and no matter what our gender, we run a delicate balance between both sex hormones, albeit at lower levels, and to different results.
Some teenagers take large doses of testosterone-like substances for their anabolic or bodybuilding properties. As your teenage boy or daughter first experiments with anabolic steroids their early “masculinizing” effects may be so subtle as to be easily confused with the normal course of adolescent maturation.
In extreme cases the signs become difficult to miss, unless you turn a blind eye. The in-between phases, determining what constitutes normal and abnormal maturation, is where parents become confused. Here, acknowledging the social context becomes very important and parental guilt or other conflicts may suppress these important clues.
Novice steroid users find it difficult to conceal effects like major muscular bulking- up, extreme mood changes (‘roid rage), severe acne, excessive growth of male breasts, and a host of other male hormone-modulated changes. Persistent late changes in boys can include short stature due to fusion of bone growth plates and testicular atrophy. In girls, deepened voices and other male characteristics can occur.