While most associate steroid use with athletes, bodybuilders, and alarming if not impressive muscle growth, they are often recommended for medical reasons.
The main difference between legal steroids and illegal steroids is how you get them.
In addition to legalities, be aware of safety issues. Don’t scoff. Misuse and abuse of steroids, legal or illegal, can result in alarming side effects and adverse reactions.
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The most basic definition of an anabolic steroid is that it’s a synthetic variation of testosterone.
Testosterone is a hormone manufactured in the male testes and in very small amounts by women’s ovaries.
Testosterone is responsible for the development of secondary sex male characteristics.
Think height, muscle mass, body hair, facial hair, deeper voice, sex drive, and physical stamina and endurance.
Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, applied topically, or injected.
They’re classified as a Schedule III controlled substance in the US due to their potential for serious side effects, adverse reactions, and their potential for abuse.
Testosterone is not a steroid but a hormone (often called a steroid hormone).
This is often where confusion comes in regarding the fact that synthetic steroids do behave in many ways like the testosterone hormone.
The Oxford dictionary defines an anabolic steroid as “A synthetic steroid hormone that resembles testosterone in promoting the growth of muscle…”
Anabolic steroids are also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS).
Anabolic relates to strength and androgenic relates to gender characteristics.
An anabolic steroid is, at least structurally, similar to a cyclic steroid ring system that is seen in testosterone hormone, and produces similar effects.
Anabolic steroids are often used to increase skeletal muscle and protein synthesis.
Legal anabolic steroids are obtained through a prescription or over the counter and are used to treat a variety of medical conditions.
Steroids that are purchased without a prescription are commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders to not only bulk up their muscles, but for increased libido, enhancing physical appearance as well as physical stamina and endurance.
Synthetic substances like anabolic steroids are commonly used in the treatment of the number of medical conditions.
One of the most common uses of legal anabolic steroids is in the treatment of hypogonadism, low testosterone levels, or decreased libido or sex drive in men.
Before a doctor will prescribe a powerful substance like an anabolic steroid, he will want to complete a physical examination and take a complete medical history.
Doctors will also and run a number of tests including blood tests to determine levels of hormones in the body. Why go to all that trouble?
Higher than normal levels of any hormone in the body, including testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) can contribute to a number of serious side effects and adverse reactions.
Legal steroids are often recommended in the treatment of hypogonadism (including impotence in males) or breast cancer (in women).
They may also be prescribed in the treatment of cachexia or muscle and weight loss associated with HIV patients, and other conditions that involve hormonal imbalances.
Medical dosage recommendations are much lower and much safer than those attempted by athletes and bodybuilders who purchase illegal steroids on the black-market and self-administer.
Misuse and abuse of illegal steroids is rampant, and by an alarming number of teens looking for quick growth, muscle mass, and athletic performance enhancement in high school and college sports.
As long as you have a prescription, it’s not difficult to buy steroids.
Those prescribed for the treatment of hormonal imbalances such as low testosterone levels are also easy to fill at your local pharmacy.
Legal anabolic steroids come in over 24 brand names today and in different forms (oral, topical, injection). Always be aware of potential side effects of steroids.
It’s important for men and women as well as teens to know that steroid use can contribute to a number of hormonal imbalances.
When steroids are overused in such cases, the body gets confused. Men may experience breast growth (gynecomastia), decreased size of testicles, and a lower sperm count that may result in impotence.
Females develop masculine features including development of body hair (on the face as well), a deeper voice, and decreased breast size.
Many users of illegal steroids often scoff at the warnings. No one expects such side effects to happen to them.
When used as directed for medical reasons, use of legal anabolic steroids elicits mild and often temporary side effect.
Sometimes none at all depending on type of steroid, the milligram strength, and dosage recommendations.
Doctors monitoring use of legal steroids are able to adjust dosage, recommend frequent blood tests, and doctor’s visits to ensure that levels are adequate for results while at the same time reducing potential side effects.
Without a prescription, you will need to look at steroid alternatives to stay on the right side of the law.