Anabolic-androgenic steroids are usually called simply "anabolic steroids." They are synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones (androgens.) The anabolic effects of the drugs promote the growth of skeletal muscle, and the androgenic effects promote the development of male sexual characteristics.
These drugs are used legally by doctors primarily to treat males who experience delayed puberty and impotence. They are also used to treat wasting of the body caused by AIDS and other diseases.
Athletes who want to improve their sports performance misuse anabolic-androgenic steroids. The anabolic effects of the drugs allow athletes to trim body fat and increase muscle size. Steroid abusers also find that their muscles recover faster from a hard workout, allowing them to train longer and harder every day.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are illegal for use in the U.S. and Canada without a doctor's prescription and supervision. There are well over 100 different varieties of anabolic-androgenic steroids in use. The substances are either taken orally, injected, or rubbed on the skin in a gel or cream form.
Most abusers have two habits of use that can make steroids even more quickly harmful to them: (1) They take doses of 10 to 100 times as high as those used in legitimate medical practice; and (2) They often "stack" the drugs, taking two or more different drugs, perhaps through different routes of administration. Neither of these dosing strategies is safe, and "stacking" is not proven to have any added desirable effects.>
Some athletes and bodybuilders use so-called "dietary supplements" that are legal, unregulated substances in the United States. These substances are not subject to the same testing for safety and effectiveness as all over-the-counter and prescription medications in the U.S. Most of their effects are believed to be hugely overstated by their marketers, but no one really knows what the effects might be. In addition, no one really knows what their dangers might be. On of these supplements is called Andro. It is a legal substance that the body converts into testosterone, a regulated steroid. How efficiently this converted testosterone might be used is unknown. Scientists have not been able to prove that Andro creates desirable effects. In addition, it may be as harmful as other types of testosterone and synthetic testosterone.