Anabolic Steroids - Uses, Efficacy, Abuse, and Side Effects


Generally, steroids have a bad rap, but the question is, do they really deserve it? From celebrities being caught up in steroid scandals to being misused by bodybuilders, it all doesn't get steroids associated with something good. I mean, sure, abusing illegal steroids can do you real harm, but why is using a healthy amount of steroids (that too under medical supervision) considered so wrong? Let’s find out!

What are Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic steroids, technically called anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are the synthetic version of testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for most of the changes in a male body during puberty. These include the deep voice, hairier body, and increased sperm production in the testicles. These steroids are used to either increase or replace the natural testosterone levels in your body.

Higher levels of testosterone support and promote muscle growth, hair growth, or bone density. The more testosterone you have, the more the chances of muscle gains there are. This is the reason anabolic steroids are associated with bodybuilders and other similar athletes.

Testosterone is produced within the female body as well. However, this is in a very minute amount and is only used to keep the bones strong, and sexual functions healthy. Higher than usual amounts of steroids within females can result in the appearance of male characteristics such as deeper voice or facial hair growth.

How Do Steroids Work?

Mainly, testosterone has two kinds of effects on the human body. Firstly, it's androgenic, which promotes the development of male genitals, facial hair growth, and deep voice. Secondly, the anabolic effects are responsible for increased muscle mass and bone structure. Most of the steroids have both androgenic and anabolic effects. But, in some of them, androgenic effects are reduced significantly to get most of their work done through anabolic effects. What anabolic steroids do is assist muscle cells in producing more protein. So, as long as the athlete works out, it will result in the continuous growth of muscle size and strength.

Apart from making the muscles appear bigger, steroids also help athletes to recover from the muscle damage caused during workouts. This allows them to work out more frequently and for long periods. They are also used to help speed up many other processes including:

     Lowering body fat

     Increasing the density of your bones

     Increasing red blood cell production

     Improving performance in sport

     Maintaining muscle mass with conditions that cause your muscles to waste away

Misuse and Side effects

Anabolic steroids are often prescribed to people with natural hormonal imbalances. They are also advised to people who have undergone conditions like cancer or AIDS so, it helps them regain their lost body mass. However, using anabolic steroids for performance enhancement in strength-related sports like bodybuilding is illegal. And its adverse effects will go beyond drug charges. Using steroids without a prescription is not inherently more dangerous. But due to the absence of medical supervision, people tend to consume them in high amounts, and that too for a long time.

The overuse of steroids can cause side effects like testicular shrinkage. Due to its impact on the heart cells and cholesterol levels, you are most likely to experience chronic high blood pressure. The activated androgen receptors increase sebum production in your sebaceous glands, which may result in severe acne breakouts. Apart from physiological issues, misuse of anabolic steroids can also be responsible for mood swings, irritability, anger issues, and in some cases, depression. Many people who illegally use steroids try reckless things such as stacking (combining many anabolic steroids and using them together) which if you don’t realize already, is a bad idea.

Do They Work Well?

A recent study shows that men who are on a steroid cycle for more than 10 weeks have gained around 2-5 kgs of muscle in that short span of time. Furthermore, it reports around a 5-20% increase in overall body strength. Participants notice more muscle gain within their upper body including shoulders, chest, and other areas. This is due to the high number of androgen receptors within muscle cells in these areas.

So, to conclude, steroids aren’t harmful if used under strict medical supervision. They’ll ensure an adequate amount of intake for a healthy period so, it isn't detrimental to your health. Adding steroids to your diet and workout routine can actually get insane results if used appropriately, under the supervision of an expert. 

See Also:

The Good and Bad of Taking Steroids

8 Steroids Myths Busted Once and for All

How to Get Rid of Muscle Fatigue after Workout