Steroid: definition, anabolic, natural, dangerous?
Naturally secreted by humans, steroids are notably responsible for sexual differentiation. Also known in the sporting field as anabolics, they are classified as doping products by the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, they are not without benefits. There are always benefits provided by steroids in certain situations. That is why sales of steroid products tend to increase from year to year.
Definition: what is a steroid?
Steroids are lipid hormones secreted by endocrine glands – glands that release hormones present in humans as well as animals and plants. We talk about steroid hormones in the medical field and anabolic steroids in the sporting world. Steroids include the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and androgens), glucocorticoids (cortisone and cortisol), and mineralocorticoids (aldosterone).
What are the effects of steroids on the body?
- Sex steroids
Sex steroid hormones play a major role throughout life, responsible at birth for primary sexual characteristics and, during development, secondary sexual characteristics. In women, they allow ovulation and prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy. Today, more and more scientists are confirming the benefits of Anavar for women. In men, they allow the formation of sperm and the development of muscles in particular.
Glucocorticoids play a role in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. They play a major role in the stress response. They also have anti-inflammatory, and immunosuppressive properties and can help combat pain. The main action of mineralocorticoids is to participate in water and salt balance – cellular and extracellular hydration essential to the body and the maintenance of blood pressure.
What are the indications?
Synthetic steroid hormones may be prescribed in many cases.
- Sex steroids: Contraceptive pills are made with synthetic sex hormones. Combined, they contain estrogen and progestin or only progestin. They can also be prescribed in physiological doses during menopause. This makes it possible to support the physiological upheavals due to the hormonal collapse that women experience during this period. In men, steroids are prescribed in cases of gonadal insufficiency, when the testicles do not produce testosterone. The steroids are then administered in tablets or by intermuscular injection.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are involved in the treatment of many diseases. They may be prescribed for the treatment of severe inflammatory reactions or autoimmune diseases. Thus, Dexamethasone is the corticosteroid currently used to treat patients suffering from acute symptoms linked to Covid-19. It is a synthetic corticosteroid whose molecule has been modified to increase its anti-inflammatory effects and immunosuppressives, which limits the cytokine storm, a brutal and large-scale inflammatory reaction. Corticosteroids are also prescribed for severe allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. They are also used during organ transplants to avoid the risk of rejection.
Natural steroids: sexual, cortisol…
The human body naturally secretes steroid hormones. Glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids are synthesized in the adrenal glands (hormonal glands located above the kidney). Sex steroids have a gonadal (ovarian or testicle) or placental origin. These are androgens (especially testosterone in men), estrogens (especially estradiol in women), and progestins, i.e. progesterone in humans.
Anabolic steroids: for bodybuilding, to “dry”
In the sporting field, anabolic steroids are used illegally by certain athletes, notably weightlifters, bodybuilders, or shot throwers, because these products increase muscle mass and strength and reduce fat mass. Steroids are considered performance-enhancing drugs by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Neuroactive steroids or neurosteroids, synthesized from cholesterol, act directly on the central nervous system. They are synthesized in the nervous system or are brought there from the adrenal glands. They play various major roles in the central nervous system. Secreted by the adrenal glands, dehydroepiandrosterone is a neurosteroid known to the general public as DHEA or youth hormone. It is not recognized as a medicine in our country but can be used in compound preparation in pharmacies, only on medical prescriptions. Considered a doping product by the World Anti-Doping Agency, DHEA is strictly prohibited in sports.
What risks and dangers?
- Anabolic steroids
In women, their side effects are immediate, it is a sign of masculinization and virilization. Hair growth appears, even at low doses, where women usually do not have hair. We see mustaches, beards, and hair appear on the nipples, on the thorax, on the abdomen, and on the legs. We also observe the appearance of acne, hair loss, and even baldness. These are the reasons why women take anabolic steroids less frequently than men for doping purposes. However, the best Anabolic steroid for women provides fewer side effects.
Cardiac effects are common to both sexes. Concentric cardiac hypertrophy – the heart chambers do not increase, while the heart muscle increases – can be the cause of heart failure, arteriosclerosis, heart attacks in very athletic subjects, rhythm disturbances cardiac with sudden deaths. Anabolic steroids are also the cause of high blood pressure and liver diseases, such as hepatitis.
Corticosteroids have many side effects, including:
– The fall of immune defenses
– Muscle atrophy
– Hydrosodium retention
– Increased blood sugar
– Increased blood pressure
– Osteoporosis (bone wasting)
What are the contraindications?
Testosterone cannot be prescribed to a man suffering from prostate or testicular cancer. Concerning corticosteroids, responsible for the fall in immune defenses, there is a “relative contraindication” in diabetics (in this case it is necessary to monitor the diabetes which can become unbalanced). Corticosteroids remain the basic treatment for autoimmune diseases such as Horton’s disease, autoimmune uveitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. They help block flare-ups of the disease by depressing immunity. You have to juggle between the effective effects of the drug and its side effects.
Are steroids for bodybuilding legal in our country?
Anabolic steroids are prohibited in our country, considered to be doping products. However, they are very easy to obtain on the Internet, in just a few clicks. These products are absolutely not controlled. The products found on the Internet are often of animal origin and are intended solely for veterinary use. While we know the risks due to the absorption of high doses of anabolic steroids of human origin, “those of animal origin is even more toxic, particularly for the kidneys and the liver”.