Anabolic steroids are synthetic hormones made to mimic testosterone, a type of male hormone. Certain types of anabolic steroids are prescribed by medical professionals to treat a number of health problems in both men and women, but they have a bad reputation because of the way they have been abused by some bodybuilders and athletes. The different steroids, based on the way in which they are administered, are injectable liquids, oral pills, and skin patches. These drugs are also called anabolic-androgenic steroids.
Delayed puberty in boys and hormone problems in men are the most common reasons why anabolic steroids are prescribed. A medical professional will prescribe testosterone or a synthetic form of it, such as fluoxymesterone or methyltestosterone, to be taken orally by the patient each day. Patches also can be placed on the skin to release the hormone slowly. Testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate are injectable types of anabolic steroids.
Other health conditions sometimes warrant the use of different anabolic steroids. Breast cancer patients and postmenopausal women might temporarily require synthetic testosterone to help balance out their hormone levels. Anabolic steroids are used to help patients gain weight but rarely to aid in weight loss.
Some medical conditions deplete hormone levels, negatively affecting the body's metabolism. When the metabolism increases, unintentional weight loss might occur. Certain types of anabolic steroids help balance out the metabolism. Severe anemia also might be treated with synthetic testosterone.
All versions are only legally available with a prescription. They sometimes, however, illegally make their way into the hands of bodybuilders and athletes who want to quickly build muscle mass. These users often take more than the recommended amount in an attempt to grow muscles. Not only are the muscle-building effects temporary, there is a great risk of side effects when anabolic steroids are abused in such a manner. Their use is restricted or prohibited by all major sports organizations.
Men who abuse steroids are at risk of prostate and breast growth, and women might grow body hair and experience a deepened voice. Both men and women can experience severe acne and anxiety problems. In severe cases, anabolic steroids might pose the threat of heart attack or cancer.