To answer this question it is imperative that we understand what the term “steroid” means. These are simply synthetic substances that are derived from the male hormone testosterone which is responsible for development of masculine features and characteristics. The brain through the pituitary gland regulates the secretion of testosterone from the male testes.
Testosterone as a hormone bears both androgenic and anabolic properties. In simple terms, anabolic properties have to do with the tissue-building capabilities whilst the androgenic properties have to do with the development of masculine effects. The natural roles of testosterone in the body are to increase or add to the muscle mass, to initiate and propagate the production of sperms, and to increase male characteristics including breaking of the voice and increase in facial and bodily hair.
Anabolic steroids are the type of steroids that are used by bodybuilders and athletes. These substances were developed through the structural alteration of testosterone in a process that was intended to prevent the total breakdown of the same. The procedure was also intended to optimize the tissue-building/anabolic capabilities of the testosterone. The original or intended use for these anabolic steroids was purely for therapeutic purposes. Some of the procedures that were initially targeted included the treatment of bone mass deterioration, the treatment of a number or types of blood disorders, treatment for protein wasting, and as a replacement therapy for testosterone deficiencies in male children. Anabolic steroids are usually confused with corticosteroids. The latter are anti-inflammatory substances that are employed in the treatment of various medical conditions.
We can quickly review some common steroids that are available on the market. Human Growth Hormone or otherwise referred to as HGH is a hormone secreted in the brain. The most common use for the hormone is to increase the heights of extremely short children. It was also previously used to boost strength for the elderly.
As a steroid for athletes HGH has been known to increase fat breakdown, muscle mass, size of the hands, jaw and feet, and height. The steroid helps in the conservation of blood glucose and muscular glycogen reposition. The bad side of HGH is that the increased muscle mass has not been translated into increased strength. No height increase has been proven in adults. Cases of enlarged hands, feet and jaws have however been reported.
Clenbuterol is another type 0f steroid whose use is mainly in the veterinary sector. The steroid is used to enhance the growth of muscle mass in animal livestock. Clenbuterol is used by many bodybuilders for the same purposes though like in the case of HGH this has not translated into muscular strength. Clenbuterol causes many side effects including headaches, muscle tremors, fever and rapid heart rates.
Erythropoietin commonly referred to as EPO is a steroid that is used by athletes seeking to increase their endurance. Its derivatives include rEPO and rhEPO. The former is used to increase the red blood cell count which translates into more oxygen for the body. Its side effects include chest pains, dizziness, and visual changes. Using the steroid has led to more complications like heart attacks, strokes and seizures.