Getting big but not hard: A retrospective case-study of a male powerlifter's experience of steroid-induced erectile dysfunction

Justin Kotzé*, Andrew Richardson, Georgios A. Antonopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


This article aims to excavate the lived experience of suffering with steroid-induced erectile dysfunction. By drawing upon original qualitative data, we chart the subjective journey to recovery of a male powerlifter and draw attention to the potential dangers of a self-help approach to treatment. Erectile dysfunction is a common symptom of anabolic-androgenic steroid-induced hypogonadism, a condition not commonly reported or discussed and is therefore a poorly studied health issue. Often considered a taboo subject, detailed accounts of men's experience of erectile dysfunction are relatively sparce, and so this paper makes an important contribution to bolstering what is a limited literature base. Links between contemporary conceptions of masculinity, muscularity, and sexual prowess are explored and form the basis of a critical analysis of popular treatment and prevention strategies. Among the central findings, this article suggests that steroids are not consumed despite the well-known risks, but precisely because the risks are well-known and ostensibly mitigated through engagement with ‘bro-science’. We conclude that there is a concerning misalignment in current treatment and prevention strategies that needs to be addressed if the issue of non-prescribed steroid use is to be effectively tackled. This research therefore raises serious questions for the healthcare profession and its approach towards treating and preventing steroid consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104195
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Early online date29 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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