Anabolic steroids


Or anabolic steroids too Anabolic steroids are the substances most frequently detected in doping controls. The anabolic agents have been divided into two subgroups since 1993.

  • anabolic, androgenic steroids (see below)
  • Beta-2 agonists


The anabolic steroids or Anabolic steroids called are artificially produced active ingredients which have the structure and effects of the male sex hormone testosterone are very similar. Approx. 5-10 mg testosterone are produced daily in the testicular tissue. Because by taking Anabolic steroids Training loads can be better tolerated, there have also been positive doping cases in recent years Endurance sports. Because of the numerous side effects, anabolic steroids have been among the Olympic Games Put on the doping list in Montreal in 1976.

The effect of testosterone can be divided into two areas.

  1. Androgenic effect: This androgenic effect is characterized by the growth of the male sexual organs. The maturation occurs Sperm and development of the secondary male sexual organs (beard growth, deep voice etc.)
  2. Anabolic effect: Anabol means building up and describes the protein building effect. The testosterone promotes protein synthesis in the human organs, especially in the Musculature. Next to the Skeletal muscle growth the ingestion of testosterone leads to the closure of the growth plate. In childhood, testosterone must therefore not be added externally under any circumstances. Furthermore, the consumption of testosterone leads to an increase in the feeling of activity and motivation.

The shift of the anabolic to the androgenic effect of testosterone is possible by varying the ring A and carbon atom 17. However, the androgenic effects cannot be prevented.

Testosterone and its related anabolic steroids consist of sterane and a hydrocarbon skeleton. In the blood plasma, testosterone is 2% in free form and 98% Proteins bound before. The anabolic steroids can partly be absorbed intracellularly as well as through the digestive tract. An alkyl substitution as in Nandrolone causes the duration of action to be extended by slowing down the metabolism. Well known anabolic steroids are among others Metenolone and Stanozolol.

All anabolic steroids manufactured were primarily used as an active ingredient to treat protein-deficit-related disorders such as muscle wasting, as well poliomyelitis or malignant tumors. Only after several years of market launch did high-performance athletes misuse the anabolic steroids for more efficient strength training.

Effect of anabolic steroids

Some sports physicians are of the opinion that current sporting performance in the area of ​​strength and speed can only be achieved with the use of anabolic steroids. The effects of anabolic steroids in connection with strength training are explained in more detail below.

  • The intake of anabolic steroids causes a muscle cross-sectional enlargement with an increase in strength potential whenever there is a deficiency in the body's own testosterone. Women and adolescents in particular have lower testosterone levels. In women, the use of anabolic steroids causes irreversible virilization symptoms (masculinization). The growth plate closes in young people. Women and adolescents are therefore strongly advised not to take anabolic steroids.
  • Studies on healthy, untrained male volunteers did not reveal any significant increase in performance when taking anabolic steroids compared to test groups without taking them.
  • Investigations with self-medication with 5-12 times the recommended dosage, the strength gain increased significantly compared to a control group in the high-performance area. There was an increased muscle cross-sectional enlargement and higher strength potential. However, when the anabolic steroids are taken externally, their own testosterone production decreases significantly. However, once the external supply has been stopped, drastic performance losses can be expected.

From a medical point of view, taking anabolic steroids is urgently not recommended due to health risks. Even the steroids with fewer side effects do not change the long-term health exposure of this hormone load.

The usual steroids are based on the male sex hormone testosterone. They are usually swallowed in the form of tablets, injected or applied to the skin as a gel. The active ingredient then enters the bloodstream and from there to the muscle tissue. In the muscle tissue, the active ingredient attaches to certain areas of the cell and penetrates them. Once in the cell nucleus, the steroid causes an increased production of new body tissue, especially muscle cells. At the same time, androgenic substances cause your own testosterone production to be reduced, which then leads to undesirable side effects.

The effects of anabolic steroids can be divided into two points, the anabolic effect and the androgenic effect.

The anabolic effect relates to the protein metabolism in the body. As requested by the users, the anabolic steroids increase the protein build-up in the muscles in order to gain more muscle mass and more strength. However, this effect only occurs if you do regular strength training in addition to taking steroids. The pure intake without training does not achieve any noteworthy success. In addition, red blood cells are formed, which are responsible for transporting oxygen. In addition to the protein build-up, the anabolic effect ensures that the user has an increased ability to regenerate and that he can train more during shorter recovery phases. In addition, the percentage of body fat decreases and the body fat distribution is optimized. The bones have an increased ability to absorb calcium.

The androgenic effect is understood to be the unwanted side effects that arise when taking anabolic steroids. In order to avoid these side effects or to keep them low, attempts are made to keep the androgenic components as low as possible in synthetic production.

Side effects

Anabolic steroids are used by many strength athletes, but very few are fully aware of their side effects. The ingestion of this agent is by no means harmless, but potentially life-threatening. The side effects are divided into different groups. A distinction is made between hormonal side effects, metabolic changes, side effects of the skin, cardiovascular diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders and other side effects.

Hormonal side effects in men can include: a reduction in the size of the testicles, the inability to conceive, a painful enlargement of the mammary glands and possible enlargement of the prostate. In women, masculinization can occur, which is shown by a deeper voice and beard growth.

The metabolic changes can lead to a deterioration in the fat profile. This means that the levels of HDL and LDL in the body are changing. LDL transports cholesterol into the body and deposits it on the walls of the blood vessels, HDL transports cholesterol out of the body and dissolves it from the blood vessel walls. The HDL concentration drops and the body absorbs more cholesterol than it gives off. Furthermore, the glucose metabolism in the body is disturbed and problems can arise from this. Side effects such as skin rash, acne, hair loss, oily hair, jaundice or local reactions at the injection site can also occur on the skin. The cardiovascular system also suffers from doping abuse. High blood pressure can develop, which can develop into a heart attack or stroke. There is also the risk of the heart muscle becoming enlarged. In addition to physical complaints, mental disorders can also occur. The aggressiveness increases, you are more irritable, get paranoia, depression or fear. The alternation between fear and euphoria is a well-known phenomenon. Other side effects can include water retention, liver disease, or cancer.

  • Liver: Taking anabolic steroids, especially the alkylating steroids, causes long-term damage to the liver. This could be proven on the basis of twin studies.Furthermore, numerous cases of anabolic-related liver cancer are known.
  • Blood fat values: The blood fat values ​​show an increased risk of arteriosclerosis.
  • The body's own control hormone testosterone is lowered. This leads to the regression of the testicles and a deterioration in the quality of the semen.
  • In men, the concentration of the body's own female sexual organ, estrogen, increases. The result is the growth of a female breast.
  • In adult athletes, taking anabolic steroids causes the epiphyseal plate to close.
  • Masculinization (androgenization) can be observed in women
  • Anabolic steroids are also linked to negative genetic effects.

According to a study on the effects of steroid abuse on the next generation, perinatal infant deaths and mental and physical disabilities are disproportionately high compared to the German average. However, the quality of this study has to be critically questioned, since it was a very small group of test persons. However, one cannot rule out an increased risk of developing the disease in children.

Use to build muscle

Almost everyone has come across the term anabolic steroids in connection with muscle building or bodybuilding. They are currently unsurpassed as a doping preparation for building muscle and are therefore the first choice despite their huge range of side effects.

Anabolic steroids are among the fat-soluble hormones. They are therefore able to be transported to the muscles in the blood by water-soluble molecules. They then penetrate the cell membrane of the muscle cells and cause an increased production of proteins in the muscle cells. It is these muscle cell-specific proteins that are increased when one speaks of muscle building. Whether the number of muscle cells can also be increased is currently still the subject of research.

In their function as doping agents, anabolic steroids also work without additional muscle training. The effect of the steroids can be maximized, however, if the muscles are given additional growth stimuli, i.e. they train and thus stimulate growth.

You can find more information on building muscle here: Maximum strength training and Muscle building.

Use in medicine

In medicine, anabolic steroids are mainly used in the case of insufficient male development in boys during puberty and in the case of increasing cachexia (emaciation) in patients. In addition, anabolic steroids - in the majority of cases they are testosterone preparations in medicine - are used to stimulate man's libido. Anabolic steroids help the body develop male gender attributes and characteristics. A deeper voice, the growth of the sexual organs and the increasing body hair can be induced by the administration of hormone preparations during puberty, if the body's own hormone level is not sufficient. The steroids are prescribed to men who have a generally low testosterone level in order to achieve a normal value, just as they can also be used in the case of a lack of libido, often in older men.

Often, such preparations are also used after a sex change to help the former woman look more masculine by stimulating the above-mentioned processes.
In cachexia, a symptom of various diseases, such as AIDS or cancer, anabolic steroids are used to stimulate the appetite of the patient and thus to stimulate higher calorie intake to counteract emaciation.

In the past, anabolic steroids were also used for reduced body growth or depression of the bone marrow. They served here for bone growth and an increase in the synthesis of blood components in the bone marrow. In the meantime, however, other hormone preparations are used, so that anabolic steroids only play a subordinate role in these areas.

Find out more about this topic here: Steroid hormones.

Use in doping

Steroids, as one of the most important classes of doping substances, have become an indispensable part of modern performance and strength, but also of recreational sports. During the Second World War, anabolic steroids were developed to help exhausted and starved soldiers regain their strength. Competitive sport discovered the substances for itself after the end of the global conflict. Until the prohibition of taking performance-enhancing agents and the introduction of doping controls in the 1970s, these substances were often used to improve performance.

Nowadays, the term anabolic steroids (coll. For anabolic steroids) is mainly associated with bodybuilding. The declared goal here is a lot of muscle growth in the shortest possible time. And it works: various studies show an increase in muscles of up to seven kilograms within 10 weeks with simultaneous hard training. In the same study it could also be shown that even without additional training, only with the intake of more than physiological amounts of anabolic steroids, muscle gain of up to two kilograms was possible. (The effects of supraphysiologic doses of testosteron on muscle size and strength in normal men, by Bhasin et al. From 1996)

The emergence of recreational sports is related on the one hand to our social way of thinking, in which a well-trained, athletic body is viewed as an ideal, but on the other hand to the fact that the anabolic steroids are relatively easily available in tablet form and therefore very easy to consume. It is estimated that up to a fifth of recreational athletes use anabolic steroids more or less regularly. Most of the time they get to the anabolic steroids through dealers, since a purchase in the pharmacy is subject to prescription.

The intake of steroids is usually carried out in different cycles, also called "cures" in specialist circles. The athlete has a phase of steroid consumption, which is replaced by a steroid-free phase, after which a period of steroid intake follows again. This procedure can be applied very well, especially with regard to announced urine tests for doping proof, since the testosterone value in the urine reaches its physiological level again after discontinuation of the anabolic steroids.

Furthermore, different types of steroid are often combined in order to address as many different steroid hormone receptors in the body as possible and thereby maximize the effect. In specialist circles, this is known as so-called stacking.

Do you want to build muscles as effectively as possible? Learn more about it here: Muscle building - strength training for muscle growth.


The detection of anabolic steroids is difficult despite the most modern medical technology. Due to metabolic processes, anabolic steroids can only be detected in the urine days to weeks after ingestion, depending on the intake. For this reason, doping tests take place not only immediately after the competition, but also as unannounced training tests. Oral ingestion is detectable 3-4 weeks after treatment. This gap before the competition was bridged with the administration of pure testosterone.