What Are Anabolic Steroids And How Are They Used?

Content published and reviewed by Sandra Thomas


Anabolic steroids, also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs), are human-made, synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone.

‘Anabolic’ references muscle building, while ‘androgenic’ represents an increase in male sex characteristics.

Testosterone is incredibly important in the male hormonal system and is responsible for the building up and maintenance of muscle in the body. It is also responsible for some other male sex characteristics such as facial hair growth, deep voice, and so on.

Because of the presence of male testosterone in anabolic steroids, they can often be prescribed by health care professionals to treat hormonal issues, like delayed puberty. They are also great in treating diseases that cause serious muscle loss, and weakness such as AIDS, cancer, and so on. However, some bodybuilders and other sports professionals sometimes misuse these drugs in an effort to improve their performance or heavily enhance their physical appearance.

The vast majority of anabolic steroid misusers are males in their 20s or 30s, particularly those with an interest in sports, or weightlifting. While women also tend to misuse anabolic steroids, it is more common in men. However, the actual percentage of people who abuse anabolic steroids is unclear, as most national surveys don’t measure it.

Types of Anabolic Steroids

There are up to 32 different types of anabolic steroids. Each of these steroids are classified according to their purpose and how they are consumed.

Some anabolic steroids can only be used for medicinal purposes, such as Nebido which helps in treating testosterone-related health issues. Others are effective for both performance and medicinal uses. While the remaining anabolic steroids hold no medicinal use and are often used by sports professionals and bodybuilders illegally.

The different types of anabolic steroids are used for different purposes. Bulking steroids are effective in helping the user build muscle, cutting steroids are very effective when trying to burn fat. Performance steroids are great in improving the user’s level of endurance and strength.

While lots of bobybuilders tend to make use of illegal bulking steroids when gaining muscle, there are safe and legal bulking steriods you can use if you are interested in muslec growth. The same goes for other types of anabolic steroids. Legal anabolic steroids are safer and can easier to control.

Oral forms of anabolic steroids include Methandienone (Dianabol), Oxandrolone (Oxandrin), Stanozolol (Winstrol), and so on. Injectable forms include Boldenone undecylenate, Testosterone propionate (Testex), Trenbolone acetate, etc.

How Are Anabolic Steroids Used

Whether it’s for medical or casual use, anabolic-androgenic steroids can be taken by mouth with the user swallowing some pills, by injecting the drug directly into the muscles, through the skin in the form of a cream or gel, or as pellets implanted under the skin

Obsessive use of these drugs repeatedly leads to anabolic steroids drug abuse. Abusers tend to take much larger drug doses than regular people.

Most anabolic steroid users make use of different consumption patterns to minimize the adverse effects of the drug;

Cycling: In this method, the user takes multiple steroids repeatedly for a short period, followed by several weeks or months off where they don’t consume any steroids at all.

Stacking: With this, users will take various kinds of anabolic steroids at once to maximize their effect. For example, they can inject some into their body, and also swallow some pills. The belief is that the different steroids will interact and have a bigger effect on muscle size, than if you take them individually. Although, this theory has not been tested.

Pyramiding: When pyramiding, steroid users will gradually increase their dosage until it reaches the highest level. After which, they will gradually reduce the dosage to its lowest form again. They believe that this gives the body enough time to prepare and adjust to a higher dosage, than just taking everything at once.

Plateauing: With this method, the type of steroid being taken is changed constantly to avoid the user becoming too addicted to it or developing a tolerance for it.

However, people who make use of these drugs have to be incredibly careful as continuous use of anabolic steroids can cause the body to stop producing its own testosterone. It also comes with a bunch of major side effects. There is no evidence that these methods of taking steroids will reduce the risks in any way.

What Are Their Medical Uses

As mentioned before, anabolic steroids, like other steroids, can be prescribed as a treatment by doctors. However, this is done usually as a last resort and is given in measured doses as the substance can be quite addictive. However, a large percentage of anabolic steroids users use it illegally.

In the US, anabolic steroids are mostly illegal and are only made available through prescription by verified medical personnel. Any other way of coming into contact with these drugs is considered illegal.

Anabolic steroids are commonly used to treat certain medical conditions like delayed puberty, or conditions like HIV or cancer where rapid muscle loss is involved. They are also great in inducing healing and recovery and enhancing the user’s metabolism.

The most popular anabolic-androgenic steroids prescribed by medical professionals in the US include testosterone and several of its esters. They are mostly prescribed for hormone-related conditions, such as hypogonadism.

Side Effects and Health Risks of Anabolic Steroids

The side effects differ based on the type of anabolic steroid the user consumed. Medically prescribed anabolic steroids side effects may include acne, an increase in red blood cells, low sperm count, difficulty in urinating, and so on.

Regular visits to the doctor and blood tests can help curb these effects.

As for illegal anabolic steroids where users often consume them in large doses, side effects may range from little things like an increased sex drive, mood swings, hair loss to more overt things like liver and kidney problems, stunted growth, or sudden death.


Usage of prescribed anabolic steroids is illegal in most countries, as it has been proved to be very dangerous to your health. However, when used in the right amount and in the right way, anabolic steroids help lots of medical workers when treating extreme diseases or sicknesses.

These steroids are best taken in controlled doses. The bottom line is, they can cause a serious and permanent threat to your health if misused.

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