All about Anabolic Steroids

Types, General Effects, Conceptions & Misconceptions

Steroids or anabolic steroids are a class of hormones affecting the development and growth of sex organs. The artificially synthesized hormones are frequently related to the hormone testosterone which is a potent androgenic hormone produced chiefly by the testes in males and & also to lesser extent by ovaries in females. Testosterone is involved in the development and maintenance of various secondary masculine characteristics such as the growth of the vocal cords and body hair. As a result, these synthetic steroids often have androgenic and virilizing properties. The word anabolic means “building up” and steroids do justify their names & live up to their expectations by increasing the protein content which results in the building up of cellular tissue, particularly, muscles.

Since their conception, steroids have been extensively modified chemically so as to increase their shelf-life while maintaining their activity and because of their anabolic attributes, testosterone and synthetic steroids have been exploited for potential therapeutic uses, particularly to treat diseases that lead to muscle degeneration. Other than muscle wasting, anabolic steroids are also used for stimulating protein anabolism in enfeebling illness and in acute renal failure. They are also known to promoting growth in children with pituitary dwarfism & other growth disorders. Steroids are well known to increase bone-density by retaining nitrogen and calcium which benefits patients with osteoporosis. In case of hypoplastic anemia, that is the anemia caused by inadequately functioning bone marrow leading to shortage of red blood cells, steroids are administered to stimulate bone marrow function and produce new precursor cells. Various steroidal hormones play a significant role in stem cell research.

However, un-intelligent and un-supervised use of steroids can have serious short term and long term side effects. As steroids help in quick recovery from injuries, they appear to work by decreasing the amount of time necessary for recovering between bouts of exercise which results in more frequent and/or more intense exercising pattern without overwhelming the body’s ability to adapt. Over a period of time, the gland that produces and releases the natural hormone weakens or degenerates in steroid users because the exuberant presence of external hormone in the bloodstream. Anything which is not used for a longer period gets clogged or weakens up and that holds true for organs and glands, for instance, vermiform appendix is a vestigial organ which once might have had some use! Similarly, muscles and glands also become weak if not used!

There are also many popular misconceptions concerning the effects and side effects of steroid use:

– One popular misconception is that anabolic steroids can reduce the size of the male phallus. How horrific as it may sound to aspiring macho-men and their fair maidens, it is not entirely true and it is possible that this idea came from temporary testicular atrophy due to steroidal use.

– Steroids have been scientifically substantiated to be associated with emotional changes and mood swings. However, this has resulted in one of the purported side effects that using anabolic steroids increases suicidal tendency and has caused many teenagers to commit suicide. While lower levels of testosterone have been known to cause depression but the idea of suicides remain unproven. On the similar lines, as testosterone levels are proven to be associated with aggression and hypomania, aggression & violent nature is frequently discussed to be a possible side effect of anabolic steroids.

– Some sections of society believe that using androgens may lead to reversal of sexual preferences in women and may turn them into lesbians. However, no scientific report has been found to consolidate this view.

**This article is NEITHER meant to be an alternative to professional healthcare consultation NOR as a guide to self medication


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