What Are Steroids Used For? Anabolics In Sports & Other Uses

Last Updated: June 12, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), or simply anabolic steroids, is an umbrella term for the substances that are applied for two medical purposes: androgenic medical use and anabolic medical use. Starting from the beginning of the 20th century, anabolic steroids usage was common among military people and athletes. After these substances became easily accessible, the side effects occurred more often due to the incorrect anabolic steroids medical use. That’s why it is important to be aware of the peculiarities of anabolic steroids usage and how to use steroids safely.

Anabolic Steroids Medical Use

It is worthy of mentioning that legal anabolic steroids are prescribed in cases of certain medical conditions such as low levels of testosterone or anemia. However, if a person is healthy and young, a doctor will not prescribe these substances without any need. The reason is that some medical uses for anabolic steroids do have side effects.

The medical uses of ASS can be divided into androgenic medical uses and anabolic medical uses. The difference between those two is as follows: androgenic steroids medical use is connected with the need to increase some features characteristic of the male sex, while anabolic steroids medical use is concerned with the muscle building.

Androgenic Medical Uses

  • Androgen or testosterone replacement therapy is a complex approach the aim of which is to increase the level of testosterone in males. Interestingly, these substances also positively influence on the libido of the older men.
  • To stimulate male puberty, the doctors prescribe androgens to young boys who experience delayed puberty. As a result, the patients note the increase in height and weight.
  • Masculinizing hormone therapy is a complex approach applied to transgender men, intersex, and transmasculine individuals. Anabolic steroids usage favors the appearance of the secondary characteristics of the male sex, including a deeper voice, increased muscle mass, bone mass, facial hair, body hair, masculine-like distribution of fat, and even such mental changes as higher sex drive.

steroids medical use

Anabolic Medical Uses

  • To stimulate bone marrow: AAS is the basis and key resource for hypoplastic anemia therapy.
  • To stimulate growth: pediatric endocrinologists use AAS to stimulate growth in children; at the same time, however, there is a man-made growth hormone that is more effective. Thus, AAS are rarely used nowadays for growth stimulation purpose.
  • Appetite stimulation and increase of muscle mass: patients who undergo wasting conditions of a chronic nature such as AIDS or cancer are given AAS as treatment.
  • While a chronic infection: AAS is used to promote weight gain; AAs can also be applied in cases of unexplained weight loss.
  • While a catabolic effect after long-lasting corticosteroid therapy, the patient is given AAS.
  • Severe burns: Oxandrolone (AAS) is used as a treatment to meliorate long-and short-term outcomes.
  • Sexual dysfunction (erectile) and hypogonadism: Methyltestosterone AAS is widely used to treat these disorders; also, it is used to treat postpartum breast pain.

Steroids For Muscle Growth

Some athletes use anabolic-androgenic steroids for muscle gain, enhance their performance and endurance. A human body produces testosterone, which has an anabolic and androgenic effect.

Athletes engaged in any sport use anabolic steroids to build muscle fast. Another reason why a sports person may use muscle growth steroids is that these substances favor muscle damage reduction. Damages happen to athletes during tough workouts all the time, and it is critical that an athlete can recover fast. Taking AAS also contributes to one’s ability to workout more often.

Steroids For Cutting Fat

Even though the majority of those who resort to AAS are eager to lose weight and gain muscle mass, some people use anabolic steroids for cutting fat. Yet, one should be extremely attentive to how he or she takes these substances to achieve a desired and, most importantly, healthy effect. Cutting fat due to AAS is effective in case of a well-thought and smart diet prescribed by a specialist.

Fat burning steroids promote one’s workout skills, put one’s body in an anabolic state, and increase the levels of testosterone hormone in the body. After this, the high level of testosterone increases the tempo of the fat-burning process. As a result, the level of cortisol also becomes weak, as well as one’s appetite.

steroids for cutting fat

Steroids In Sports

Steroids in professional sports is a common practice. People mostly use AAS to take their performance up a notch, grow muscle mass, burn fat, reduce the recovery process, and improve body image. This is exactly why one associates athletes and steroids so often.

Still, it is important to keep in mind that long-term use of steroids results in several negative effects. Importantly, one should know how to use steroids properly and follow the prescriptions thoroughly.

Steroids In Bodybuilding

Anabolic steroids for bodybuilding are widely used by people to grow muscles and burn fat. The problem with such substances is that many bodybuilders tend to use these regularly increasing doses just because they think this would make them stronger. In reality, AAS does not work like that.

Steroids In Baseball

For many years, baseball players on steroids were hitting the headlines. The athletes with a global reach resorted to AAS to enhance their performance so that they were able to set records. Despite some regulations regarding doping, available specialists who know how to test for steroids, many baseball players take drugs that are not detected via tests.

baseball steroids

Steroids In Crossfit

One of the recent studies suggests that female CrossFit Steroids are mainly used to improve general body image, for weight loss, as well as gain, and also for cosmetic purposes. Additionally, after the commercialization of CrossFit, the competition grew stronger and those athletes, who were eager to remain in the ranks, resorted to extra doping.

Steroids In Weightlifting

Just as in the case with bodybuilders, weightlifters also resort to anabolic steroids. In addition to ergogenic agents and dietary supplements, AASs are often seen in the training regimes of many weightlifters.

Steroids In Football

Some football players can use anabolic steroids to improve their performance during the pieces of training and games. While some abuse drugs that were prescribed to combat the pain from damages and sports-related injuries, others go further and start taking anabolics to speed up the recovery process. Without medical supervision, anabolic use can become a problem requiring treatment in a drug rehab facility.

Steroids In Boxing

Anabolic steroids usage is poorly connected to boxers. However, modern boxing rings are full of stories about the sportsmen who use anabolics. Today, positive tests among boxers happen frequently.

steroids in boxing

Methods Of Anabolics Use

There are four ways to use anabolics:

  • Cycling is one of the patterns of steroid misuse. This specific intake pattern presupposes long-term use of steroids where one uses the drugs in multiple doses within a precise time. Then, a person stops for some period and after this, it starts all over again.
  • Stacking pattern means that one mixes different AAS and has them during one intake. Importantly, it has not been proven whether this pattern makes sense or not.
  • Pyramiding is a commonly spread misuse pattern. In the case of pyramiding, a man uses anabolics in a cycle of 6-12 weeks gradually tapering the dose. Thus, one starts with low doses; then stacks them and slowly increases the dose at the same time.
  • Plateauing misuse pattern presupposes overlapping or substitution of some anabolics with another one. Some athletes consider that this pattern allows them to avoid addiction and develop tolerance towards all the substances. Besides, some believe that this pattern enhances the effect of every single steroid that is taken.

How To Use Steroids Safely

First and foremost, one should remember that AAS intake is a serious affair, and it will have a huge impact on one’s health. While the only things amateurs want to find out is how fast do steroids work, a smart athlete would like to learn everything about these substances.

Win At Any Cost Except Own Health

It is critical to know as much as possible about anabolic-androgenic steroids to use these safely and effectively. Nevertheless, when it is clear that a person needs professional help due to drugs’ misuse, it is critical to turn to some qualified rehab and addiction centers as soon as possible.

Page Sources

  1. Morales A., Johnston B., Heaton J. W., Clark A. Oral androgens in the treatment of hypogonadal impotent men. Journal of Urology. 1994; 152(4): 1115-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8072077.
  2. Hart D. W., Wolf S. E., Ramzy P. I., Chinkes D. L., Beauford R. B., Ferrando A. A., Wolfe R. R., Herndon D. N. Anabolic effects of oxandrolone after severe burn. Annals of Surgery. 2001; 233(4): 556-64. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11303139.
  3. Madeline B. Deutsch. Overview of masculinizing hormone therapy. 2016. https://transcare.ucsf.edu/guidelines/masculinizing-therapy.
  4. Myers J. B., Meacham R. B. Androgen replacement therapy in the aging male. Reviews in urology. 2003; 5(4): 216–226. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1508369/.

Published on: August 16th, 2019

Updated on: June 12th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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