Steroids are organic compounds that form the bulk of the hormones needed in everyday life in a human body. They are formed by the process of steroidogenesis from cholesterol. Some steroids are common to both males and female, for example, cortisol. However, some like the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone are selective to both women and men.
The effects of steroids on the body can be classified into two major categories; anabolic or catabolic. Anabolism is the process by which complex molecules are synthesized simple form molecules and thereby lead to the building of the body. On the other hand, catabolism is the process by which complex molecules are broken down to simple molecules with the release of energy. In a nutshell, the effects of steroids are either destructive or constructive metabolism.
Taking the male androgen hormone testosterone as an example of an anabolic steroid, the effects can be further classified into positive or negative. The hormone works by attaching to testosterone receptors on muscles and other parts of the body. The positive effects are majorly physiological. They include the development of the male secondary sexual characteristics including the distribution of pubic hair, deepening of the voice, sperm production and maturation, increased muscle bulk and strength, increased bone density and strength. The steroid hormone also maintains the general sleep-wake cycle; circadian rhythm, it gives a general sense of wellbeing while keeping depression at bay.
For this reason, the anabolic hormone testosterone and its supplements have found a niche in the market for the desirable positive effects it has. It is used in hormone replacement therapy for people with delayed puberty and certain cancers. However, it has gained popularity for social use with the need for tailoring physical appearance. The hormone is mainly used for its ability to increase muscle bulk, muscle tone, bone strength and the ability to slow down catabolism and therefore tolerance for exercises.
The negative effects, therefore, spring from this social use, especially when over used. They include increased production of sebum leading to acne. With the suppression of catabolism, it causes reduced the testicular size, reduced sperm production, mood swings, fatigue, mania and irritability, fatigue, disturbance of the circadian rhythm leading to insomnia and reduced appetite. One of the most worrisome effects is on the cardiovascular system where it leads to a large hypertrophied heart that does not function well as a result and formation of bad cholesterol.