- What are steroids?
- Corticosteroids and anabolics explained
- What do hormones have to do with steroids?
- The science behind anabolic steroids and the body
- Using steroids
- What types of steroids are there?
- What are the ‘benefits’ of anabolic steroids?
- What are the side effects of anabolic steroids?
- The verdict on steroids
What do hormones have to do with steroids?
What role does testosterone have to play in the process of muscle hypertrophy?
Testosterone is a member of the class of hormones referred to as androgens, these are male sex hormones and are responsible for the development and growth of certain male traits that form during puberty, bear in mind, androgens also play a vital role in the development and growth of females.
In healthy adults, the levels of androgens are related to sex drive and muscle mass, amongst other things. In order for this process of muscle growth to take place, the secret ingredient is testosterone, as this hormone fuels muscle building action. Growth hormone is another element that aids in this process, in actual fact, testosterone increases the levels of the growth hormone that your body will release in response to the muscle tears.
When taking anabolic steroids and following an exercise routine, the body will have higher levels of testosterone and androgen and will, therefore, be able to fuel muscle growth more than the body is naturally capable of doing in a short period of time.
But, how does testosterone work?
Testosterone, being the key player in muscle growth, directly impacts the process of muscle gain through binding to tiny receptors on the surface of your muscle cells. This binding action amplifies the signals of biochemicals found in the muscle tissues, which is what causes protein synthesis to take place. During this process, testosterone will also increase the levels of growth hormone, both of which aid in muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Through boosting the process of protein synthesis in your skeletal muscles, the levels of testosterone in your body will increase the extent and rate at which your muscles will adapt to exercise. Through increasing the release of growth factors, one being growth hormone, the presence of testosterone will also promote the process of muscle hypertrophy in general. All of the aforementioned functions and processes will lead to increased strength, recovery and muscular size.
**My Med Memo – Skeletal muscle is the muscle that makes up most of the muscle in your body as it attaches to bones through groups of collagen fibres, these are known as tendons. Skeletal muscles are normally under your control in muscle growth and shaping).
So, it’s quite simple, if testosterone is the key ingredient in muscle growth (the process of repairing muscle tears), then the more your body contains, the more muscle growth is stimulated. Excess testosterone will affect the various functions of cells and organs in the body. However, as with all hormones in the body, when one of these is thrown out of balance, in this case, testosterone or growth hormone, this can have wide-ranging effects on the body.
Bear in mind, that although testosterone has a significant role to play, it is not the only factor in the process of muscle gain, other factors include:
- Sleep quality
- Training and exercise experience
- Glucose levels in the blood (this includes how well the body creates insulin which allows for the use of glucose for energy in the body)
The roles of testosterone include:
- Growth of the testicles and penis
- Sperm production
- Libido (sex drive)
- Building muscles
What role does oestrogen have to play in anabolic steroids?
In order for you to further understand what testosterone does to the body, we need to explain the role that oestrogen plays in taking steroids. As we know, anabolic steroids are basically forms of hormones. Anabolic steroid users are introducing abnormal amounts of synthetic hormones to their bodies. The body, being an ingenious creation, will recognise this abundance of hormones (testosterone being the most prominent one) and will attempt to balance these levels out through producing natural hormones and will either produce more or another hormone (i.e. oestrogen, which is also an androgen being a sex hormone, that is needed for both men and women), or, in other cases, stopping the natural production of hormones.
In order for the body to balance the excess amount of testosterone present due to anabolic steroid use, it will often make oestrogen as these two hormones have a vital relationship in both men and women which requires balance. Thus, in taking steroids, this balance is upset.
In addition to producing more oestrogen, the body may also suppress its production of testosterone (should the user be taking steroids that are a replica of testosterone and do not facilitate the production of testosterone in the body instead). It is for this reason that a number of anabolic steroid users also take supplements that inhibit the production of oestrogen.
Why do men need oestrogen?
Oestrogen is present in both men and women and is a vital hormone for both sexes. Women use oestrogen, which is secreted by the ovaries, to aid in reproduction (foetus formation and development) as well as other vital female functions and characteristics (breast development, ovulation and menstruation etc.)
Seeing as men lack ovaries, their bodies create oestrogen through a process that involves an enzyme known as aromatase which transforms testosterone into oestrogen. Men, like women in regard to testosterone, need much smaller amounts of oestrogen than their female counterparts.
Men need oestrogen in order to aid in the maturation of sperm. This hormone also aids in maintaining a healthy libido (sex drive). Testosterone is vital for stimulating the production of sperm whereas oestrogen helps the sperm to grow into maturity.