For those who have not before heard the term androgens: they are steroids. Steroids are one of the few drugs that are widely known to the mankind. Some people know them by experience; severe allergic reactions leading to laryngoedema with the risk of suffocation need prompt administration of steroids. Similarly, if after an injury or infection inflammation is too severe to be controlled by other agents, steroids are the recommended drug. Most of people have become well acquainted with the term due to extensive use in sports media. Steroids are what make authorities kick out athletes. Generally speaking, every athlete with an average weight of 250 pounds or more is tested for steroid abuse. Under direct observation, athletes urinate inside two flasks and hand them over to the laboratory. Before they sign off the form and leave, samples are tested quickly with indicator drops or strips for pH and specific gravity. If these two values are found abnormal, it proves that the person in question has taken oral agents (like sodium bicarbonate) to influence the excretion of steroids and other offending agents. If the samples are found positive for steroids as well, the athlete is accused of illegal means and suspended till court proceedings come up with the final results.
Though doping definitely constitutes one of the most popular uses of steroids, it is not the only one. As previously stated, allergic conditions require prompt intravenous administration of the drug. Another important indication is ‘Status Asthmaticus’ or resistant asthma. This is a severe form of the disease where it fails to respond to the usual ventolin therapy. Even oral corticosteroids yield no results and patient is given parentral dosage of steroid solutions. In addition, androgens drive libido and are used extensively by men as aphrodisiacs.
After the entry of exogenous steroids in the body, they are converted by 5’ reductase into dihydrotesterone and other active androgen metabolites. It should be noted that only those steroids with high androgenic profiles are capable of generating sexually stimulating precursors, hence, if sexual benefits are all you want from the dose, choose the drug wisely. This hormone is abundant in the brain, prevailing particularly in the white matter. Without this conversion, ingested testosterone will be useless to the body. At several sites testosterone is recognized as a prohormone; incapable of activating receptors. Even when it can bind to receptors, the effect is weak and short; DHT has high affinity for androgenic receptors and binds for a long duration of time thereby ensuring prolonged and strong stimulation.
Active androgenic forms once generated pass via blood to all the organs of the body, binding to their receptors whenever possible. Steroids are lipid soluble and bind to intracellcular receptors; ideally located within the nucleus of the cell. This receptor-ligand interaction activates synthesis of second messengers and a whole cascade of transcription factors follows. Transcription gives way to translation yielding the product. This product is proteins (hormones) responsible for all the subsequent actions. Androgenic receptors are found at the higher centers of the brain including cortex and amygdala. Once bound here, they produce heightening of sexual desire and prolonged erection. Steroids have been used as pleasure drugs for quite some time. They were originally started as a therapy to combat endogenous androgen deficiency in patients with erectile dysfunction; after exogenous supplementation, their sexual activity improved greatly. The use has extended to physiologically normal individuals simply to increase the duration of sexual interaction. No matter how appealing this all may sound, steroids should never be taken without a doctor’s prescription. They are extremely detrimental to health and can cause irreparable damage in the long run.
Immune system is what keeps you alive. Without it your body would succumb to the weakest of pathogens contracting life-threatening infections. Our skin, oral cavity, urethra and large intestine harbor tons of bacteria. Yet, we never fall sick routinely. This is because the white blood cells of our immune system fight against threatening invasions and generate antibodies to phagocytose them. When we do get an infection, medicines cure us. These medicines will be useless without a healthy immune system because they work alongside macrophages and helper cells. Steroids, when consumed uninterruptedly for a long duration of time, suppress the immunity. This means that all the defenses your body initially offered are no longer there. Want to get an idea of the immosuppression? Visit someone with AIDS. HIV virus primarily damages immune cells rendering the body extremely weak and infection-ridden.
This is not all; liver toxicity is another issue to be dealt with. Liver is one of the vital organs of the body; without which life is impossible. It is the metabolizing machinery and is the central hub through which all the contents of digestive system pass. It is here that the first breakdown occurs and excess glucose is stored. Orally taken drugs are also metabolized in the liver to useful and dangerous metabolites; some are even activated by first pass metabolism. If something goes wrong with the live and the malfunction becomes chronic, the person dies. Keep an eye out for signs of food poisoning; if you feel nauseous or vomit repeatedly chances are your steroids are hitting the hepatocytes; do not confuse it with food poisoning or take it lightly, rush to the doctor immediately. Another sign which is more characteristic of liver injury is yellowish discoloration of the skin and sclera; a condition known as jaundice. Jaundice is due to insufficient bilirubin excretion by the liver; giving it a chance to diffuse into the body cells.
Athletes who have been reported to take androgenic steroids during the training sessions have admitted to increased sexual drive. Those with initially poorer sexual responses show drastic improvement. In addition, other androgenic effects are also noted including aggressiveness. Person gets easily provoked into anger and may react in a physically dangerous manner. The theory behind its usefulness for athletes is that a constant rage directs the energy towards the training; athletes tend to work out more because it calms down the anger.