Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

Anabolic Steroids

What Are They?

Ever wondered how those bulky weight lifters got so big? While some may have gotten their muscles through a strict regimen of weight-lifting and diet, others may have gotten that way through the illegal use of steroids.

Steroids are synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. They do have legitimate medical uses. Sometimes doctors prescribe anabolic steroids to help people with certain kinds of anemia and men who don't produce enough testosterone on their own. Doctors also prescribe a different kind of steroid, called corticosteroids, to reduce swelling. Corticosteroids are not anabolic steroids and do not have the same harmful effects.

Recommended Related to Men

Our Cheatin’ Hearts

Why can’t you just be faithful? Any man who has ever been on the receiving end of that question, whether dodging crockery or wiping away his wife’s tears, knows that some women really want an answer. Do men who cheat really outnumber their female counterparts? Is infidelity in marriage more natural to men than women? And do some husbands think that “monogamy” is a board game?

Read the Our Cheatin’ Hearts article > >

But doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles. Without a prescription from a doctor, steroids are illegal.

There are many different kinds of steroids. Here's a list of some of the most common anabolic steroids taken today: anadrol, oxandrin, dianabol, winstrol, deca-durabolin, and equipoise.

What Are the Common Street Names?

Slang words for steroids are hard to find. Most people just say steroids. On the street, steroids may be called roids or juice. The scientific name for this class of drugs is anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anabolic refers to muscle-building. Androgenic refers to increased male characteristics. But even scientists shorten it to anabolic steroids.

How Are They Used?

Some steroid users pop pills. Others use hypodermic needles to inject steroids directly into muscles. When users take more and more of a drug over and over again, they are called "abusers." Abusers have been known to take doses 10 to 100 times higher than the amount prescribed for medical reasons by a doctor.

Many steroid users take two or more kinds of steroids at once. Called stacking, this way of taking steroids is supposed to get users bigger faster. Some abusers pyramid their doses in 6-12-week cycles. At the beginning of the cycle, the steroid user starts with low doses and slowly increases to higher doses. In the second half of the cycle, they gradually decrease the amount of steroids. Neither of these methods has been proven to work.

How Many Teens Use Them?

Most teens are smart and stay away from steroids. As part of a 2002 NIDA-funded study, teens were asked if they ever tried steroids-even once. Only 2.5% of 8th graders ever tried steroids; only 3.5% of 10th graders; and 4% of 12th graders.

What Are the Common Effects?

Steroids can make pimples pop up and hair fall out. They can make guys grow breasts and girls grow beards. Steroids can cause livers to grow tumors and hearts to clog up. They can even send users on violent, angry rampages. In other words, steroids throw a body way out of whack. Steroids do make users bulk up, but the health risks are high. It's true, on steroids biceps bulge; abs ripple; and quads balloon. But that's just on the outside. Steroid users may be very pleased when they flex in the mirror, but they may create problems on the inside. These problems may hurt them the rest of their lives. As a matter of fact steroid use can shorten their lives.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Today on WebMD

Life Cycle of a Penis
Slideshow
Preacher Curl
Slideshow
 
testosterone molecule
Article
Xray of foot highlighting gout
Slideshow
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
older couple in bed
Video