Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances similar to the male
hormone testosterone. Doctors prescribe them to treat problems such as delayed
puberty and other medical problems that cause the body
to make very low amounts of testosterone. Steroids make muscles bigger and
bones stronger. They also may cause puberty to start and can help some boys
who have a
genetic disorder to grow more normally.
Anabolic steroids may be taken as a pill, as a shot into a muscle, or as
a gel or cream rubbed on the skin.
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Common anabolic steroid medicines include fluoxymesterone (such as Halotestin)
and nandrolone (such as Durabolin).
In the United States, you need a
prescription to get any anabolic steroid. Illegal anabolic steroids are those
that people get without a doctor's prescription.
Some people take
legal dietary supplements that have certain steroid hormones also made by the
human body. One such supplement is dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The body can turn
DHEA into other steroid hormones, including testosterone,
cortisol. People use it to try to make their muscles
bigger. Whether such products actually work has not been proved. But if you
take them in large amounts, they can cause the same side effects as anabolic
Why do some people use anabolic steroids without a prescription?
Some adults and teens use illegal anabolic
steroids to lower body fat, get bigger muscles, and increase strength. They use
the drugs because they are seeking to improve how well they play sports or how
The dose of illegal anabolic steroids is 10 to 100
times higher than the dose a doctor prescribes for medical problems. People
often use more than one of these illegal drugs at the same time. This is called
stacking. Or they may take the drugs in a cycle from no drug to a high dose
over a period of weeks to months. This is called pyramiding.