The term steroid is used to describe a crucial compound which is used to produce many medicines today. It is generally misunderstood among the masses regarding its purpose and use. In order to better understand anabolic steroids and their side effects, let’s take a detailed look.
What Are Steroids?
Steroid and sterol are molecules which share the same chemical constraints. These molecules are very important when it comes to producing medicines and are widely used in the health industry. There is a class of steroids which are known as hormones. These are chemicals which are produced in various organs, like the heart, brain, and sex organs, to transmit signals to different parts of the body. These signals are transmitted through cells that alter the way some parts of the body operate.
Different types of Steroids Produced
There are other forms of steroids produced by the adrenal glands of the body and all of them have their own unique function. Some of them include:
- Corticosteroids are hormones which contain cortisol and cortisone and these hormones aid and strengthen the immune system.
- Men and women have two types of sex hormones namely testosterone and estrogen. However men have more of the former while women contain excess of the latter.
- Sterols have different types. The popular member of this family is cholesterol, while the other forms of sterols are sued to strengthen cell walls and extract Vitamin D from sunlight.
- Bile salts or bile acids are steroids that are produced in the liver and are essential for the absorption of fats and digestion.
- Mineralocorticoids are those hormones which balance potassium and sodium in the human body.
Corticosteroids are steroids used in ointments, injections, pills, and inhalers to treat medical conditions like:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Various Skin Conditions
- Forms of cancer like leukemia
Side Effects of Steroids
These steroids are most commonly used to produce medicine which can be inhaled. These inhaled steroids have very few minor side effects, like thrush, which occur rarely. What must be understood here is these drugs are to be administered under the supervision of a doctor, otherwise the side effects from steroids might include:
- Weight gain,
- High blood glucose
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What Are Anabolic Steroids?
These are substances which are used to artificially induce the effects of androgen or testosterone which is the male sexual hormone. As mentioned earlier, these are responsible for the growth of the body and enhancing muscles among males.
There are many different forms of anabolic steroids present in the market today.
Among them, however, there are only a few which can be safely used by human beings and administered to animals. Almost all of the approved ones require a doctor’s prescription to be used legally.
These steroids are often taken orally or are available in the form of creams which are rubbed directly onto the skin of the user. The most common way in which it is taken is via injections; the steroids are directly injected into the blood stream with the help of a needle.
Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids
There are two main categories of the side effects caused by Anabolic steroids. One of the common Anabolic steroids side effects are the development of androgenic characteristics or virilization. These include formation of facial hair, extension or growth of male sex glands initially, and a deepening effect on voice.
Anabolic properties are exhibited by the second category. These can enlarge some internal organs, increase calcium content in bones, and enhance muscle mass.
These side effects can be broadly divided into long term and short term effects on males and females. These steroids, although are an extension of male sexual hormones, still effect men negatively. The short term effects on men include:
- Damage to the heart
- Difficulty or pain while urinating
- Reduced sperm count
While in the long term the anabolic steroid side effects can be:
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Liver disease or liver cancer
- Development of breasts
In women, these steroids can induce masculine properties. The short term effects on women include:
- Excessive hair growth
- Breast reduction
While in the long run females might experience abnormal menstrual cycles, deeper voice and enlarged clitoris.
There are certain effects which are common for both genders like formation of acne. For a detailed account on this topic, click here.
What we need to understand here is that all these side effects are subject to the usage of these steroids. If anabolic steroids are used responsibly and the dose is not exceeded then the side effects can be minimized to a great extent.
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