Anabolic steroids What are they and how do they work

In its early days, anabolic steroids were intended for medical purposes. Steroids are helpful for those who have genetic problems with testosterone synthesis.

Starting in the 1970s, anabolic steroids were widely used by athletes, bodybuilding, and fitness professionals.

Today, anabolic steroids are still used as a supplement to increase muscle mass. However, the story that nobody tells us is the price you must pay in health.

This article details how anabolic steroids work and their side effects and contraindications.

Anabolic Steroids: What are they?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone – testosterone. These compounds are capable of increasing testosterone in the blood significantly.

One of its primary effects is to gain muscle mass quickly. For this reason, the use of anabolic steroids is every day by bodybuilding professionals.

There are different types of steroids, although they all cause similar effects. Synthetically increase the levels of the male sex hormone.

How do anabolic steroids work?

Anabolic steroids are supplements that stimulate male sexual characteristics, muscles, and sexual desire due to an increase in the concentration of the hormone testosterone.

High levels of testosterone accelerate muscle growth and recovery. Because testosterone acts oppositely to cortisol – the stress hormone– it allows for greater intensity and long-duration training.

People can even achieve muscle hypertrophy during a steroid cycle without physical exercise. Steroids unleash a cascade of processes in the body that signal muscle building.

After finishing an anabolic cycle, testosterone drops, leading to withdrawal symptoms. This stage is characterized by symptoms of depression and reduced sexual desire. (1)

Muscle mass tends to disappear over time, putting pressure on a person to repeat the anabolic steroid cycle repeatedly.

Causes of steroid use

Every year the number of people who feel dissatisfied with their bodies increases. In 1972, 15% of Americans were dissatisfied with their appearance, while in 2010, this percentage reached 43%.

In adolescents, the figures are even higher; up to 80% confirmed that they want to change some characteristic of their body. According to experts, lack of acceptance is the main reason motivating people to use steroids. (4.6)

The leading causes of steroid use are:

  • Bad experiences in adolescence
  • Living in a cult of physique society
  • Hypomania
  • Tendency to compulsiveness
  • Low selfsteem

Are steroids dangerous?

The answer to whether steroids are dangerous is a resounding yes. They not only serve to build muscle mass but have also been shown to have serious side effects, such as increasing the chances of getting cancer. (4.5)

Large doses of testosterone have adverse effects on the body’s normal functioning.

Anabolic steroids allow you to increase the volume of muscle mass at the high price of contracting all kinds of health disorders.

Side effects of anabolic steroids

The damages of anabolic steroids become apparent after a few years of use. Research has shown that they increase the work of the heart and can also lead to the formation of cancerous tumors, mood swings, and personality disorders (2,3,4).

The side effects of anabolic steroids are:

  • Joint disorders
  • Hair loss
  • Oily skin – Acne on the face and back
  • Gynecomastia (increase in the size of the nipples)
  • Mood swings, irritability, and aggressiveness
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of liver cancer
  • Decreased size of the testicles
  • Feminization

Anabolic Steroids – Contraindications

The use of steroids is contraindicated for both men and women who have had previous liver, kidney, and other health disorders. A doctor should evaluate the use of treatment. Contraindications of anabolic steroids are:

  • Severe kidney, heart, and liver disease,
  • Men with breast cancer and prostate cancer
  • venous thromboembolism
  • Pregnant women or women who can become pregnant
  • Lactating women
  • Hypersensitivity to any component of the formulation.
  • Myocardial infarction and stroke

Why is it not reasonable to take anabolic steroids?

Taking anabolic steroids is dangerous in all its phases. It has been confirmed that steroid use can increase aggressiveness and mood swings.

At the end of a cycle, a hormonal downturn occurs where episodes of depression frequently happen.

Among the side effects of using anabolic steroids are disorders in liver function.

Steroids can cause your harmful LDL cholesterol levels to rise. Increased size of the mammary glands, skin damage, and baldness.

“But, my friends tried and did well …”

During the first cycle of steroids, people can feel like actual Marvel characters with muscles of steel and feel an increase in the potency of their sexual activity. Towards the end of the cycle, the side effects of the steroids appear, and the muscle growth stops.

Taking anabolic steroids has dangerous health consequences. Inadvertently you will convince yourself and your friends that everything is fine. However, the story that no friend tells is that life expectancy can drop by at least ten years. (2)

Steroid brands – examples

Here are ten examples of steroid brands:

  1. Methandrostenolone
  2. Nandrolone
  3. Anabol
  4. Dianabol
  5. Napoleon
  6. Deca Durabolin
  7. Stanozolol
  8. Winstrol
  9. Anavar
  10. Oxandrolone

History of steroids

The history of steroids continues during the Second World War. They found that synthetic forms of testosterone could enhance soldiers to increase their capabilities. It was a simple and effective way to improve physical performance.

The side effects and consequences of taking them were not yet understood.

In 1958, the American  Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) registered testosterone for the first time under the company  Ciba Pharmaceuticals: Dianabol (5)

It was used to treat people with low testosterone, especially older adults. A curious fact in history is that steroids were sold in pharmacies without a prescription.

More than 40 testosterone analogs appeared on the market: Stanozolol, Winstrol, Nerobol, Naposim, DBOL, etc.

Only 20 years later (in 1976), the first prohibitions began to be made based on analyzing the consumption of anabolic steroids in professional athletes.

As with muscle electrostimulation devices, their use was later adopted for aesthetic purposes.

Steroid cycle Can you start and stop?

Starting an anabolic steroid cycle and slowing down is unlikely. The most common pattern is to repeat the process at least twice. If it is also identified with the causes of bigorexia, I did not try it.

The desire to be more muscular every day is like a snowball. Seeing better results will lead you to forget about side effects or contraindications. However, it is time before your body takes its toll.

Can You Buy Anabolic Steroids Legally?

Steroids have different levels of “legality” depending on the regulation of each country; in the majority, the purchase and use of these substances are a crime. Anabolic steroids are exclusively reserved for people under prescription medical treatment.

However, the illegal sale of anabolic steroids is every day.

The use of anabolics has severe consequences for the body. For this reason, it is not possible to buy them legally. If you think of buying steroids illegally, you may need to reread the side effects and contraindications.

Use of anabolics in bodybuilding athletes

Within the community of bodybuilders and high-performance athletes, an extra dose of testosterone can create significant muscle changes. For this reason, the use of anabolics among athletes in powerlifting, American football, and wrestling is so frequent.

The contraindications and side effects of steroids are explicit in the life expectancy of these athletes. Resorting to a steroid cycle strategy to achieve body sculpting is not the best in terms of health.


  • Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the hormone testosterone.
  • The use of these supplements has serious side effects and several contraindications.
  • The most common side effects are gynecomastia, liver, kidney, and heart disorders and have been linked to an increased chance of developing certain types of cancer.
  • Taking anabolic steroids can lead to dependency.
  • Why NOT take anabolic steroids? Its effects on increasing muscle mass have the high price of decreasing life expectancy and quality.


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