How Steroids Work
Basic Steroid Biochemestry
|Here is a basic rundown of how testosterone works in the body. Its a very brief description of a complex and not perfectly understood process. Testosterone facts:
• Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone
• Testosterone is androgenic and is responsible for secondary male characteristics such as body hair, beard growth, deep voice, increased production of sebaceous glands, development of the penis, aggressiveness, sexual behavior, libido, and the maturation of sperm
• Testosterone is anabolic (promotes muscle growth)
• Testosterone is made in the Leydig Cells in the testes
• Men produce approx 5-10mg of Testosterone per day
• Normal testosterone concentration in men is between 300-100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl)
• Typical prescription testosterone therapy will consist of only 25-75mg of testosterone administered per week
• Testosterone strengthens bones
How testosterone works in the body:
How Andro Works: Recently classified as illegal anabolic steroids, Androstenedione or “Andro” products are oral precursors to testosterone in one form or another. These steroids are essentially “one step away” from becoming actual testosterone through natural body process that will alter their chemical makeup once injested.
Almost all prescription drugs, including steroids, are absorbed in the small intestine and have to go through the liver. In the process, most are almost completely destroyed after the first time through. This is called first-pass metabolism. Some steroids are 17-alkylated, which is a chemical alteration specifically designed to protect the drug against first pass metabolism. The ones that are 1 7-alkylated are much more effective as oral steroids, however they can damage the liver very quickly.
Now that you have the testosterone in your system it needs to be activated through the androgen receptor. Think of the androgen receptor as a lock and testosterone is the key. When testosterone isn’t bound to a receptor (key in the lock) it is called “Free Testosterone’. Only about 2% of all the testosterone in your system is actually ‘Free” at any given time. The remaining is bound to proteins and albumin, rendering it temporarily useless.
Once the free testosterone (the key) binds to the androgen receptor (the lock) in skeletal muscle, BAM! Major muscle growth is activated! Then, when the testosterone is done interacting with the receptor, it releases and gets sent back into circulation. The “activation” is the key step that triggers hypertrophy within the muscle cells. Contrary to popular belief, anabolic steroids do not cause more muscle cells to be created. They only have a limited ability to cause them to create more “connective material” around them and get larger. However, steroids only cause limited hypertrophy (muscle growth) on their own. For dramatic improvements in muscle growth, steroids need to be combined with proper diet and resistance exercise.
But you have to keep one thing in mind. Androgen receptors are found in many areas of the body! This is one reason why side effects occur. You see, when testosterone binds with the androgen receptor in skeletal muscle, it promotes muscle growth, but when it binds with the androgen receptor within the central nervous system, for example, it promotes aggressiveness.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to pick and chose which cells will be activated by the testosterone. A lot of side effects are really pre-determined by genetics. If you Just happen to naturally have a high concentration of androgen receptors in your hair follicles, for instance, you are much more apt to hair loss as a side effect of taking steroids.
This is really just a brief explanation of a super involved, complicated process, but I think you get this gets the point across. Check out the chart if you are more of a visual learner.