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It is a name for chemically related hundreds of compounds. They can be hormones, vitamins, alkaloids, and much more. What is common among all of them is typical four rings of carbon.
However, in practical, work steroids are more commonly used for sexual hormones or hormones produced by adrenal glands like cortisol (helps manage stress).
Two most commonly used human-made steroids are:
In day to day language, word steroid is more commonly used for AASs. That is for performance-enhancing drugs. Drugs that help build muscles, help men and even women get bigger and stronger in a short time.
Corticosteroids like prednisolone, dexamethasone are widely used in medicine and are classified as lifesaving drugs. They help treat hundreds of medical conditions. They are included in the WHO essential drugs list. They do not have any anabolic effect. They do not boost strength. On long-term use, they may suppress immunity, and even damage bones.
So the main question is, do corticosteroids have any place in sports?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Because corticosteroids reduce inflammation, they can help recover faster from injury; they can help during a high-intensity workout. They also increase blood glucose levels; it means that they can increase endurance.
Corticosteroids are used sparingly in sports. But their primary use is to help recover faster from injury (such use is legal). They also have a place in endurance sports as they increase blood glucose levels.
Anabolic steroids are altogether a different thing. They resemble testosterone a lot. You can think about them as tweaked versions of testosterone. Changes in testosterone are made to produce more powerful and yet safer steroids.
Designer steroids or synthetic steroids differ from testosterone in many ways. Testosterone has one to one ratio of androgenic and anabolic properties.
Purpose of creating synthetic steroids are many. One of the most important aims is to reduce androgenic properties while maintaining the anabolic effect. It's the androgenic effect that is responsible for many side effects.
Improved safety is also achieved due to other reasons. Natural testosterone is converted to estrogen (female hormone) by fat tissues. However, synthetic steroids are more resistant to such conversion.
Another critical difference is the route of administrations. Testosterone is taken by injection, something not preferred by many. However, most of the synthetic anabolic steroids can be taken orally.
Steroids are not entirely safe. They may cause many harms like reducing natural production of testosterone. They may create an oily skin. They may also harm the kidney or liver. They affect behavior, increase aggression. Fortunately, most side effects can be minimized by using them correctly.