25 October 2010

A-Z of testosterone

Testosterone is widely used as a performance enhancing supplement in the sports world. Learn more about this potentially dangerous suppliment here.


Anabolic steroids build power and strength by elevating the body’s natural testosterone levels, a hormone already present in the body. It increases body mass, muscle strength and muscle definition.

Anabolic steroids can improve the body's capacity to train and compete at the highest level. They reduce the fatigue associated with training and the time required to recover after physical exertion. They also promote the development of muscle tissue in the body, with an associated increase in strength and power. This is achieved by stimulating the production of protein in the body.

However, some of the increased muscle bulk may be due to the laying down of water and minerals, so the increase in strength may not be as pronounced as expected.

Nandrolone has many of the same effects as testosterone – muscle building – without some of the unwanted side effects such as increased body hair and aggressive behaviour.

It is being examined in clinical trials as a possible treatment for wasting disease and to increase body tissue in HIV infected men.

Athletes who need spurts of power for short, but intense contests; runners; swimmers; rowers; male gymnasts and weight and power lifters will be tempted to use or are using anabolic steroids.

However, the use of steroids is not limited to Olympic sports requiring bursts of speed or strength. Olympic sports such as track and field and weightlifting, as well as cycling, have generated the bulk of bad publicity regarding performance-enhancing drug use because those sports' organisations have been pursuing violators most successfully and for longest time. Rugby players have been using it and American baseball has shied away from stricter testing and sanctions.

What are the risks associated with anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids promote the growth of many tissues in the body by stimulating the release of the hormone testosterone.

By disturbing the body's equilibrium, anabolic steroids can potentially cause damage to many of the body's major organs, particularly the liver, which has to deal with breaking down the compound.

There is also a significant risk of damage to the heart, which is made of muscle tissue. Anabolic steroids can lead to an expansion of the cardiac muscle, which can cause heart attacks. The drugs also promote the growth of bones, particularly facial bones such as the jaw and the teeth. There is also an increased risk of cancer.

Other side effects include:

  • the development of inappropriate sexual characteristics such as breasts in men, and facial hair in women
  • a deepening of the voice
  • baldness
  • male impotence


If used by women, it can lead to the development of male characteristics, like the growth of facial hair to say the least. Pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant should not take this drug because it may cause birth defects.

(Health24, August 2006)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.