Anabolic steroids are an artificial form of testosterone, which is used for the growth of muscle and bones. They have the potential to enhance the growth of cells, division as well as the growth of various other tissues in our body.
These steroids are of various kinds and each one has a particular combination of anabolic and androgenic properties. Anabolic steroids are also known as Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids.
They were discovered during the 1930s and are useful for many medical reasons. Anabolic steroids help in the growth of bones and muscles, improve appetite and also help in puberty issues. They are also a very effective treatment for serious cancer and AIDS patients. Although Anabolic steroids work by increasing protein synthesis, muscle mass and strength, they have certain side effects. They can affect health by increasing LDL cholesterol and decreasing HDL cholesterol. Moreover, they may also cause high blood pressure and liver damage.
Anabolic steroids have numerous medical uses and at the same time, they are very beneficial for athletes’ training purposes. For this reason, these steroids have an important impact on sports as well. As they also have certain serious side effects, their use has been controlled in the USA and some other countries.
History of Anabolic Steroids
The history of anabolic steroids dates back to ancient Greece. In the beginning, they were used as natural elements to enhance androgenic as well as anabolic effects. The recent development in anabolic steroids started in Germany. During the 1930s, scientists were exploring different ways to boost the abilities of national sports players; this is when they explored anabolic steroids. Until the 1980s, most of the people believed that their effects were placebo; however, these researches were not perfect.
During 1990, Anabolic Steroids were made controlled drugs in the United States. During the same time, many US drug companies stopped producing these steroids. As a result, counterfeit anabolic steroids were introduced, some of which had many dangerous effects.
Although the use of this drug is controlled in the United States and some other counties, they are easily available in some parts of the world like Mexico and Germany. Just like other unlawful medicines, there is a consistent movement in USA in order to do away with the policy on anabolic steroids.
Anabolic and Androgenic Effects of Steroids
Anabolic steroids possess anabolic as well as androgenic effects. Their balance out with one another basically depends on the particular form of the hormone that we talk about. Generally, anabolic effects are the development of metabolism and tissues while androgenic effects imply the development of masculine effects. Preferably, anabolic steroids should possess more anabolic effects than androgenic effects. Scientists are still researching on the anabolic steroid without any androgenic effects. Achieving the correct balance is the challenge.
Anabolic focuses on the rebuild or development of body tissues and the function of these steroids vary according to the particular formation. Mostly, steroids bind to the androgen receptor; however, they do it at different levels. This level of binding on the androgen receptors ensures the effect on the protein synthesis, glycogenolysis, or transcription of the receptors. In turn, this affects the kind of growth of a particular tissue. Moreover, anabolic steroids also lessen catabolism by dropping recovery time in the course of the blocking of cortisol.
A few particular anabolic effects are a prominent increase in muscles, strength, development of appetite and bones. It can also enhance the stimulus of bone marrow and help in the production of more red blood cells.
On the other hand, the androgenic effects work in a very different way. They work by enhancing clitoral growth in females and penis enlargement in young men. They also increase body hair like pubic, facial, chest and limb hair. In addition, these steroids may also enhance the size of the vocal cord resulting in deepening of the voice. Some other androgenic effects include the rise of the libido and the control of sex hormones.
Administration of Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, in the form of injections or in a transdermal form. Taking this steroid orally is very easy; however, it usually needs to be chemically altered to ensure that it gets to the bloodstream before the liver starts its work of breaking it down. Oral anabolic steroids often prove to be very strong on the liver and they may cause hepatotoxicity if taken in high doses or for an extended period. The injectables are normally injected into the muscle tissue while the transdermal forms imply creams, gels or patches which are used through the skin.
Medical Uses of Anabolic Steroids
Medical research on Anabolic steroids started during the mid of twentieth century. The most known medical function of these steroids is their ability to oppose the effects of chronic wasting by enhancing appetite and developing muscles. Other than this, there are also many other users of anabolic steroids. Some of them include:
- Stimulation of Bone Marrow: These steroids are now being substituted with artificial proteins.
- Growth Stimulation: Since the 1980’s use of anabolic steroids has been replaced with growth hormones instead.
- Hormone Replacement Treatment: This is useful for males who have low natural testosterone level.
- Puberty Induction: Although testosterone is mostly used for this purpose, anabolic steroids are also useful for boys with too much delay in puberty.
Other Uses Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids have become a very hot subject owing to their general use by athletes who want to have extra energy, specifically, in professional sports. In fact, most of these sports have banned their use. Furthermore, high school athletes are making use of anabolic steroids to get additional strength.
Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids
No matter if you use steroids for medical or other reason; they do have certain side effects. The common side effects include:
- High blood pressure
- Enhanced cholesterol levels
- Hair loss
- Prostate cancer
- Liver problems
- Problems related to gums
- in males, particularly, there are some specific side effects of steroids. It includes Gynocomastia that is, the emergence of female characteristics like breast development, sexual issues, infertility and contraction of testicles.
Some side effects amongst females include an increase in body hair growth, deepening of the voice, enlargement of the clitoris and smaller menstrual cycles.
Adolescents may undergo stunted growth, the fast development of bones, hypergonadism, increased hair on body as well as more sexual development.
Minimizing the Effects of Anabolic Steroids
You can control the negative aspects of these side effects of steroids in a number of ways. Athletes and bodybuilders normally try to minimize them as much as they can since they have to use it extensively. Ascertain anabolic steroids convert to estrogens, most users take estrogens inhibitors along with steroids. In order to lessen the effects of the repression of natural testosterone production in the body, people also take a post-cycle treatment to decrease the effects of a transitory decline of testosterone. It is also imperative to have frequent blood work in order to keep a check on potential liver damage, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
Misconceptions about Anabolic Steroids
General misinformation regarding the use of anabolic steroids is that they will affect the penis by shrinking it. This is not true. However, it may affect testicles and shrink them, but they generally return to normal after the discontinuation of steroids.
Another common misunderstanding pertaining to anabolic steroids is that they are deadly substances. The fact is that if one uses them too much or misuse them, they may prove fatal in this context. In fact, that is true to all drugs. At the same time, it is a wrong impression that people are certainly prone to death if they make use of these drugs. Although steroids can cause depression and when the user quits them, it may lower his testosterone levels, but it is an exaggeration to associate death with the use of steroids.
Controlled Substances and Anabolic Steroids
As we mentioned earlier, the use of anabolic steroids is kept under control in the United States. For this reason, some users have to buy them from foreign countries. Because of this, many people who want to use them need to purchase them from other countries. They can also get it from the black market. These drugs are mostly fake otherwise, they would have been used in veterinary medicine for treatment. Most of all, the most serious concern is that they may not have been stored as sterile as they need to be.
Most of these steroids, which were produced in the United States does no longer exist, however, many of them are manufactured in Eastern Europe which is a big outlet for unlawful steroid trade in this regions. Like other medicines, they are also distributed through dealers after being smuggled into the USA and sold at gyms and competitions and sometimes via mailing.