Anabolic steroids often have a misleading reputation and it is worth reading up on the true effects, history, and purposes (medical and otherwise) of the anabolic steroid.

In medical terms, he full name of this performance-enhancing drug is the “anabolic-androgenic steroid”, anabolic meaning “muscle building” and androgenic meaning something like “characteristically male”, a name which admittedly lives up to its reputation in regards to what it does to the body. But what else should one know about the anabolic steroid?

Well, traditionally, the steroid was used almost entirely for medical purposes – as a synthetic version of testosterone, it serves as a fast and highly effective way to treat muscle waste issues in victims of both AIDS and cancer, as well as a recognised treatment for young men who are suffering from delayed puberty. The steroid is a highly effective medical tool because it replaces and stands in for the primarily male hormone known as testosterone, as stated above.

But because of these rapid and undeniable effects on the body, anabolic steroids have been adopted by bodybuilders and professional athletes alike. Nowadays, the majority of steroid use is taken up by users attempted to pack on new muscle fast either for performance purposes (in professional athletes) or aesthetic purposes (in bodybuilders and fitness models) who wish to improve their physical appearance.

Users choose to take steroids either orally or by injecting it directly into the bloodstream. There are also a number of different ways with which to use steroids – these include “cycling”, which involves controlling when and where steroids should be used depending on a series of factors determined by training. Another popular way to take steroids is by “stacking” which is roughly defined as taking two or more different types of steroids at the same time for optimal muscle growth. Some people opt for “pyramiding” starting on a very low dosage and gradually increasing until they plateau.

But what are the side effects of steroids? Generally speaking, steroids are different from regular drugs for a few distinct reasons: the most important reason being that it doesn’t have an immediate mood-altering effect on the user like some other street drugs. Saying this, it has been said to cause short-term effects such as paranoia, feelings of jealousy or arousal, as well as spells of extreme aggression.

However, steroid use has been proven to possess a number of long-term effects as well. Prolonged use can lead to liver damage, heart and kidney problems, as well as an increase in the likelihood of the user having a stroke or a heart attack – the result of an increase in blood pressure and/or cholesterol.

Other notable effects differ between males and females but have generally demonstrated a reverse in gender characteristics. For instance, while male users have been known to experience a shrinkage in testicle size as well as development of breasts, women users have reported more or less the opposite: an enlarged clitoris, a noticeable increase in facial hair and body hair, and deepening voice.