The Lowdown on Anabolic Steroids (And Its Difference from Testosterone)

UltraPharmRX Medical Team

UltraPharmRX Medical Team

Anabolic steroids are a synthetic form of testosterone. Due to their resemblance to what is called the “male sex hormone,” anabolic steroids can mimic the effects of testosterone, such as increasing muscle mass, bone density, and overall strength.

Anabolic steroids are often referred to as drugs that help promote anabolic effects such as bone and muscle growth, as opposed to androgenic drugs that are marketed to promote the sexual characteristics that testosterone is associated with.

As much as 4 million individuals in the United States have taken anabolic steroids at least once in their lives without a prescription. Individuals that abuse steroids generally take higher doses of these drugs than prescribed, which may cause serious side effects.

Taking anabolic steroids for athletic performance enhancement may be illegal within sporting jurisdictions, but they are perfectly legal to use as treatment for a pre-existing medical condition such as low testosterone. 


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Anabolic Steroids 101: How Do They Work?

Anabolic steroids, like natural testosterone, work by binding with androgen brain receptors which influence male sexual and physical characteristics, besides activating cells responsible for muscle and bone mass development.

Anabolic steroids are, for instance, available in a variety of preparations such as tablets, pills, and topical gels and creams.

The major types of testosterone used to treat low T include the following, all of which can be subject to abuse when taken without a prescription or for unintended purposes:

  • Testosterone enanthate;
  • Testosterone cypionate; and
  • Testosterone undecanoate. 


Another compound known as nandrolone is recognized as one of the first anabolic steroids to be utilized by professional athletes to enhance performance and recover from injuries faster.

Anabolic steroids, such as Winstrol (stanozolol), Anavar (oxandrolone), Anadrol (oxymetholone), and Androxy (fluoxymesterone), are also available in the market, and can be purchased on the black market under a variety of street terms (such as roids, gym andy, or stackers).


Anabolic Steroids 101: Are They Legal in the United States?

Anabolic steroids are not illegal per se, particularly for legitimate medical purposes, but the misuse of anabolic steroids and abuse are most definitely illegal. are not illegal drugs, but anabolic steroid abuse is illegal. 

Since the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies anabolic steroids under the same category as opiates (schedule III), therefore you will be under the close scrutiny of your healthcare provider when you are prescribed them for your use.  

Anabolic steroids approved by the FDA for the following medical uses:

  • Low testosterone and other hormonal imbalances. Your doctor may put you on a regimen of testosterone replacement therapy if you have been diagnosed with low testosterone. It can be injected or topically applied as a gel or patch.
  • Delays in puberty development. Boys who haven’t experienced puberty at a certain age may be given testosterone replacement therapy to help promote physical and sexual development.
  • Medical conditions that cause muscle loss. Cancer and HIV may cause muscle wasting in patients; anabolic steroids may be prescribed to help inhibit muscle/mass loss in such patients.


Anabolic Steroids 101: What Is Steroid Abuse?

Most organized sports prohibit the use of anabolic steroids and related performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). 

However, steroid abuse doesn’t begin and end with pro athletes; regular individuals may use them to improve their physical or athletic performance for a competitive advantage, even in semi-professional sports and pseudo-sports like pro wrestling that may require more muscular appearances.

In fact, almost 4 million American individuals have used steroids without a prescription at least once in their lives (the great majority being American men. However, steroid abuse may cause dependency, with almost 1 million Americans requiring higher doses of anabolic steroids to produce the same effects over time.

Anabolic steroids can be abused either by stacking, the act of taking multiple steroids at the same time under the belief that it will boost their effects; cycling, taking steroids for a set time frame, then stopping for several weeks before beginning another “cycle”; and pyramiding (starting with small doses and peak to a maximum dose at the middle of the cycle) and plateauing (or alternating doses/types of steroids to avoid developing a tolerance). However, none of these methods are supported by scientific research, nor can they prevent you from developing potentially devastating side effects.


Anabolic Steroids 101: The Effects of Steroid Abuse

Abusing anabolic steroids can have numerous harmful side effects, including (Ganesan, 2022):

  • Acne breakouts
  • Escalation of mood swings and flights of aggression (known as “roid rage”)
  • Testicular shrinkage
  • Hypertension
  • The development of male breasts
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Clitoral enlargement
  • Menstrual changes
  • Higher concentrations of red blood cells
  • Lower amounts of HDL cholesterol and higher amounts of LDL cholesterol
  • The development of “male” physical characteristics in women
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Low sperm count
  • Low libido


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Anabolic Steroids 101: Steroid Abuse Risks

Many people who abuse anabolic steroids often illegally buy them online from pharmacies located in different countries. This makes buying anabolic steroids a crapshoot with no way of determining their origin, purity, or strength.

Anabolic steroid use can also trigger drug dependency, which may make it hard for long-time steroid users to ‘get off the gas’ even when it’s causing them active harm.

Moreover, anabolic steroid abuse can cause long-term medical conditions with far-ranging consequences such as kidney disease, heart disease, and strokes.


Anabolic Steroids 101: Abuse and Withdrawal

The dependence on anabolic steroids due to years of abuse can cause serious withdrawal symptoms.

For instance, anabolic steroid abuse can lead to your body being completely unable to produce its own testosterone and lead to low testosterone levels (hypogonadism). Hypogonadism can cause low libido, erectile dysfunction, and a disinterest in sex which may linger for months after quitting steroid use.


Anabolic Steroids 101: Anabolic Steroids v. Testosterone

How is testosterone different from anabolic steroids? Testosterone is, after all, an anabolic steroid per se, considering its anabolic-boosting properties. 

However, people who use anabolic steroids for non-medical purposes usually take higher doses than what is typically prescribed for therapeutic purposes. Other anabolic steroids like nandrolone were developed especially for their performance-enhancing effects rather than as a supplement for low hormone levels.

You need to get a doctor’s prescription to access testosterone, and testosterone therapy requires medical supervision to perform. Keep that in mind when you see products on the internet marketed as “testosterone,” which are highly suspect and might not contain any iota of testosterone at all.

Just as with any other medication, anabolic steroids and testosterone should be taken under the strict supervision of a qualified healthcare provider and only under the prescribed dose.

Anabolic steroid abuse can cause serious chronic side effects such as substance abuse disorders or addiction. Consult your healthcare provider to determine if you have low testosterone and get a proper diagnosis before purchasing or taking any supplements that claim to raise testosterone.

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from your phone or computer,
with UltraPharmRX

  • 100% U.S. Licensed Medical Provider
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  • Discreet Shipping
  • Monthly Refills
  • No Waiting Rooms, No Appointments
  • Text Messaging Based Consultation *