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What Are Anabolic Steroids?
By Joe Pietaro
You can hardly get through a news broadcast or tabloid nowadays without hearing some type of mention of steroids. They have certainly become a hot topic not only in the sports world but in general society, as well. Even with so much attention, though, the vast majority of people are very uneducated about the actual substances, the different types and some of the misnomers about them.
Their technical name is anabolic-androgenic steroids, commonly known as AAS. In simple form, this means that they have two qualities they promote anabolism (or cell growth) and are androgenic (enhance male characteristics). Although there are many different forms and variations of AAS, they are all related to the hormone testosterone.
WHATS IN A NAME?
Of course these substances are completely different from corticosteroids, which are basically painkillers in laymens terms. The most common form is cortisone, which is administered through an injection and taken on a regular basis in the sports world. How many times have you either heard that the star quarterback or pitcher was able to play that day because he received a cortisone shot?
There are also medications out there that contain certain strains of steroids in them, but they are not of the anabolic variety. So when grandma blames her short temper on the new arthritis prescription the doctor gave her, she is either totally misinformed, passing the buck, or a little of each.
The side effects usually associated with anabolic steroids do not crossover to the non-AAS class. So grandma will not have to worry about her back breaking out, either.
ONE FROM COLUMN A; ONE FROM COLUMN B
Anabolic steroids are administered one of two ways either orally in pill form of via an injection. The latter comes in oil or water based solution and most of the common steroids are used in this manner. There are also transdermal (skin) patches or gels that have appeared recently.
The three locations on the body that are used for injections are the buttocks, shoulder and upper thigh. Although there are adverse side effects from using any steroid, the injectible variety is less toxic on the liver. Some of the different types of injectible steroids are:
- TESTOSTERONE The most basic of steroids is actually a little more complicated than that. There are many different compounds of test, such as cypionate, enanthate, suspension, propionate and Sustanon 250, which is a mixture of four different strains. While all testosterones will basically do the same things, the differences are the long and short esters. What? That basically means how long the effect of each shot lasts in the body. Some are taken once a week while others need to be used every other day.
- DECA-DURABOLIN Years ago this was one of the most popular steroids and still is among the older crowd. One of the reasons why is because deca helps alleviate joint pain by retaining water in those areas.
- PRIMOBOLAN This is the steroid that Alex Rodriguez admitted to using and is one of the more expensive steroids on the black market. It also needs to be run for a length of time as long as 12 weeks to see the full benefits.
- TRENBOLONE There are a few different compounds of tren but basically the user will experience some good gains but also brings with it some added negative side effects, such as shortness of breath and tren cough, which is a vicious hacking that occurs right after the injection.
- WINSTROL Used more for a cutting cycle rather than bulking, the actual formula is called stanozolol and has been used by athletes in all different sports, including sprinting. This is also a popular drug for female bodybuilders due to its low androgenic qualities. Of course the more squeamish people will have a hard time sticking themselves with a needle and contemplate using steroids in pill form. These really do a number on the liver, though, because they have to first pass through that organ. A few of the common orals out there are:
- ANADROL A very potent steroid, A-50 or A-Bombs brings a lot to the table in terms of results and negative side effects.
- DIANABOL The first steroid manufactured in the United States back in the 1950s, D-Bol is still used today. Because it is not as strong as anadrol, its results and side effects are less, as well.
MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN FROM VENUS
What did you think that there were no dangers when playing with the steroid fire? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the side effects are lengthy indeed. Males and females both have their own specific ones and then there are the no one is exempt varieties.
High blood pressure, acne, liver and kidney damage, high cholesterol, cardiovascular issues, a short temper and even sterility can effect both sexes. For men, a very common negative side effect is gynocomastia. When this occurs, there is a development of breast tissue that may have to be surgically removed. Men also suffer from baldness, testicle shrinkage and a low sperm count.
Because women are putting a male hormone in their bodies, they begin to take on masculine characteristics, such as deepening of their voice and body hair. The clitoris is also effected and can become quite enlarged if steroids are used for a long period of time.
CYCLING AND STACKING
When someone is using AAS, they take them for a specific period of time, which is called a cycle. What that basically means is that the user is taking the substance over a period of time that can range anywhere from three to 12 weeks. Some heavy users go even longer.
Depending on what type of steroids are being used, the drugs can be taken daily, every other day or as infrequent as once every two weeks. Many cycles are done in what is called a pyramid style, meaning that the user starts with a small dosage, works his way up and then back down to wean the body off on a slower pace. The reason for this is that the natural testosterone production will begin to increase as the synthetic version dosage
When more than one steroid are taken during the same cycle that is called stacking. Often you will see an injectible and oral being taken together. Two oil or water based substances can even be loaded in the same syringe.
Stacking is done for a number of reasons. At times, the oral is introduced to the body first to kick start the cycle. Also some steroids work differently on the body and using more than one may enhance the results. But what comes with the territory is the added risk involved. The more you take, the worse the side effects can be.
IT AINT OVER TILL ITS OVER
Once the cycle is complete, many users resort to post-cycle therapy, or PCT. Drugs such as nolvadex, clomid and H.C.G. introduce estrogen to the body and stimulates its natural testosterone production. In the medical field, they are used as fertility drugs for women that are having difficulty getting pregnant.
BARELY SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
This is merely a primer into the world of anabolic steroids. They are very complex substances that even the medical and science professions have had difficulty saying for certain what they can and cannot do to and for the human body.
Because people are going to make their own decisions regardless of the circumstances involved, they should at least be educated on some of the basics.
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