Anabolic steroids, also referred to as anabolic-androgenic steroids, are a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. There are very few legitimate medical uses of anabolic androgenic steroids, including treatment of severe testosterone deficiency and certain kinds of anemia. Body builders, long-distance runners, cyclists and other athletes who may use these substances illegally claim that anabolic steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical appearance.
Anabolic steroids can come in tablet, capsule or liquid form, as well as gels, creams and patches. They are taken orally, applied to the skin or injected. Athletes and other people who misuse steroids typically take them in cycles of weeks or months (called “cycling”), rather than continuously. Cycling involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. In addition, people misusing steroids frequently combine several different types to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing negative effects, a process known as stacking.
Steroids have a reputation for increasing lean muscle mass, strength, and the ability to train longer and harder.