URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/anabolicsteroids.html

Anabolic Steroids

Also called: Anabolic-androgenic steroids, Performance-enhancing drugs

Summary

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic (man-made) versions of testosterone. Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It is needed to develop and maintain male sex characteristics, such as facial hair, deep voice, and muscle growth. Women do have some testosterone in their bodies, but in much smaller amounts.

What are anabolic steroids used for?

Health care providers use anabolic steroids to treat some hormone problems in men, delayed puberty, and muscle loss from some diseases. But some people misuse anabolic steroids.

Why do people misuse anabolic steroids?

Some bodybuilders and athletes use anabolic steroids to build muscles and improve athletic performance. They may take the steroids orally, inject them into muscles, or apply them to the skin as a gel or cream. These doses may be 10 to 100 times higher than doses used to treat medical conditions. Using them this way, without a prescription from a health care provider, is not legal or safe.

What are the health effects of misusing anabolic steroids?

Misuse of anabolic steroids, especially over a long period of time, has been linked to many health problems, including

In men, it can also cause

In women, it can also cause

  • Changes in your menstrual cycle (period)
  • Growth of body and facial hair
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Voice deepening

Are anabolic steroids addictive?

Even though they don't cause a high, anabolic steroids can be addictive. You can have withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them, including

Behavioral therapy and medicines can be helpful in treating anabolic steroid addiction.

NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Diagnosis and Tests

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