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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Men's Health Anabolic androgenic steroids

Anabolic androgenic steroids

Anabolic steroids, or anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are a class of steroid hormones related to the hormone testosterone. They increase protein synthesis within cells, which results in the buildup of cellular tissue (anabolism), especially in muscles. Anabolic steroids also have androgenic and virilizing properties, including the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics such as the growth of the vocal cords and body hair.

What are they?

Some athletes take a form of steroids — known as anabolic-androgenic steroids — to increase their muscle mass and strength. The main anabolic-androgenic steroid hormone produced by your body is testosterone.

Testosterone has two main effects on your body

  • Anabolic effects promote muscle building.
  • Androgenic effects are responsible for male traits, such as facial hair and a deeper voice.


Some athletes take straight testosterone to boost their performance. Frequently, the anabolic-androgenic steroids that athletes use are synthetic modifications of testosterone. These hormones have approved medical uses, though improving athletic performance is not one of them. They can be taken as pills, injections or topical treatments.

Common anabolic-androgenic steroids include

  • Methyl testosterone (Android).
  • Oxandrolone (Oxandrin).
  • Oxymetholone (Anadrol).

Why are these drugs so appealing to athletes? Besides making muscles bigger, anabolic-androgenic steroids may help athletes recover from a hard workout more quickly by reducing the amount of muscle damage that occurs during the session. In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs.

Designer steroids

A particularly dangerous class of anabolic-androgenic steroids has emerged since 2002. These so-called "designer" drugs are synthetic steroids that have been illicitly created to be undetectable in current drug tests. They are made specific Designer steroids include:

  • Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).
  • Desoxymethyltestosterone (Madol).
  • Norbolethone (Genabol).


Finally for athletes and have no approved medical use.


Many athletes take anabolic-androgenic steroids at doses that are much higher than those prescribed for medical reasons, and most of what is known about the drugs' effects on athletes comes from observing these users. It is impossible for researchers to design studies that would accurately test the effects of large doses of steroids on athletes, because giving test participants such high doses would be unethical. This means that the effects of taking anabolic-androgenic steroids at very high doses haven't been well studied.

Anabolic-androgenic steroids come with serious physical side effects as well.

Men may develop

  • Prominent breasts.
  • Baldness.
  • Shrunken testicles.
  • Infertility.

Women may develop

  • A deeper voice.
  • An enlarged clitoris.
  • Increased body hair.
  • Baldness.

Both men and women might experience

  • Severe acne.
  • Liver abnormalities and tumors.
  • Increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol).
  • Decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).
  • Aggressive behaviors, rage or violence.
  • Psychiatric disorders, such as depression.
  • Drug dependence.
  • Infections or diseases such as HIV or hepatitis if you're injecting the drugs.
  • Inhibited growth and development, and risk of future health problems if you're a teenager.