Different Uses of Anabolic Steroids: A Continuing Concern
Anabolic steroids are also called anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). They are a kind of steroid hormone that is closely associated with testosterone, the male sex hormone. They were first produced during the 1930s and have had extensive applications in the synthesis of protein and in the building up of muscle mass. They also help develop male characteristics.
Anabolic steroids increase muscle mass by two mechanisms. One is through increased protein production, and the other is through the reduction of muscle catabolism by hindering the effects of cortisol.
At present, the use of anabolic steroids has expanded to various applications. They are being used to develop more muscles and increase strength particularly in the area of bodybuilding. In the field of medicine, they are being used to treat different kinds of sicknesses.
Anabolic steroids have been used for many years as a therapeutic treatment for hypoplastic anemia, with particular focus on aplastic anemia. However, in recent years, synthetic protein hormones, which promote the development of blood cell precursors, have been produced for the same use.
Anabolic steroids are being used to stimulate growth in children who are suffering from growth failure. They are the second treatment of choice, next to synthetic growth hormone, in treating such condition of the body.
Steroids are also being used to battle extreme weight loss brought about by certain kinds of sickness like cancer and HIV or AIDS. This extreme weight loss is clinically called as wasting. Anabolic steroids are used to stimulate appetite and to augment the growth of muscles, thereby allowing effective weight gain.
Studies have revealed that anabolic steroids have promoted the growth of muscle mass in elderly men. They are also reported to stop or minimize bone loss in elderly men.
Sometimes, boys experience a delay in reaching the puberty stage. To induce their entrance to puberty, they are administered with androgens, specifically testosterone, after which they begin to exhibit increase in height and weight and increase in lean body mass.
Another steroid, testosterone enanthate, is being used as a contraceptive for men. Scientists are looking at this steroid for possible use in the future as a reversible male contraceptive that will not give harmful side effects. Anabolic steroids are also being used to replace the hormones of men who have low testosterone levels and to increase their libido.
Gender dysmorphia is a condition in which a person believes that he or she has been given the wrong gender because he or she exhibits many characteristics from the opposite sex. Female-to-male gender dysmorphic patients, who are of the female gender but are often identified as male, are being treated with anabolic steroids. This process causes them to develop secondary male characteristics like having facial hair, more muscle and bone mass, deeper voice, and more red blood cells.
Besides these, anabolic steroids have many other medical applications. They are being used to treat conditions such as wounds (both acute and chronic), lack of protein calories resulting in weight loss, osteoporosis, severe burns, hypogonadism (both primary and secondary), and prolonged state of catabolism brought about by extended use of corticosteroids.