Are Prohormones Anabolic Steroids?

Are Prohormones Anabolic Steroids?

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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If you've ever taken an anabolic steroid, you may know that prohormones can produce similar effects

However, they can also have some serious side effects just like anabolic steroids. This article covers what prohormones are. 

What Are Prohormones and Anabolic Steroids?

If you are an avid bodybuilding enthusiast, chances are you have heard of various anabolic and pro-anabolic steroids and hormone supplements.

Most bodybuilders rely on these products to increase muscle mass and strength gains as well as enhance libido and mood.

However, many side effects associated with steroids are undesirable and even potentially hazardous for health - this is why it's crucial that any products considered can be researched thoroughly to protect both yourself and the general population alike.

Steroids can be taken through various methods, from transdermal patches and injections, pills or liquid form. Steroid cycles are designed to produce maximum benefits with minimum risk.

Prohormones can have similar side effects as steroids, but are usually much safer due to being converted by your body into hormones instead of directly being absorbed as such.

That being said, prohormones may still inhibit natural hormone production so it is wise to take post cycle therapy supplements like Military Muscle after any cycle to help restore testosterone levels after it. 

Prohormones are androgenic androgens

Prohormones are a class of small molecule hormones used to regulate hormone levels in the body. They are similar to testosterone in structure but differ in their action.

A typical prohormone is taken orally and converted to a full hormone when it reaches the androgen receptors in the body. The conversion process involves the addition of enzymes to the missing atoms in the chemical structure.

Although there are many differences between steroids and prohormones, all two types can be considered anabolic androgenic.

Anabolic steroids and prohormones can cause liver damage, especially if taken orally. Androgenic steroids are also potentially harmful to cardiovascular health.

The main difference between anabolic steroids and prohormones is in the process of conversion in the body.

While prohormones are often deemed safer than anabolic steroids, they are not immune to adverse side effects.

They have the same HPG axis suppressing effects as anabolic steroids and induce the same range of side effects as anabolic steroids.

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How Do Prohormones and Anabolic Steroids Work?

Bodybuilders and strength athletes frequently take prohormone and anabolic steroid supplements in order to enhance their athletic performance by stimulating protein synthesis and building muscle mass.

Steroids, also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are synthetic hormones that mimic the effects of testosterone in the body.

They are often abused by athletes and bodybuilders for their ability to increase muscle mass and strength.

Steroids, can enter the body through injection or ingestion and are transported through the bloodstream to reach their target tissues as per this 2022 review published in the Frontiers in Endocrinology journal.

Once inside the cells, AAS can either transform into different metabolites or bind to the androgen receptor. This binding can lead to a variety of effects, including increased muscle mass and strength.

Prohormones may be considered safer because they do not directly target hormonal receptor sites; rather, they act as precursors that get converted by enzymes in your body into their anabolic effect.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), for instance, is an anabolic prohormone with similar anabolic properties as androgens such as testosterone in your body. 

Legal Status of Prohormones and Anabolic Steroids

Steroid use has become widespread within athletic circles. Unfortunately, however, many don't realize that in some parts of the world steroids are a controlled substances with severe fines and jail sentences associated with any offense involving their use without a valid prescription. 

For this to happen, he or she must determine that a patient suffers from medical conditions such as delayed puberty, muscle loss or certain types of impotence. DHEA benefits from special protection under this new law as it falls outside its definition as an anabolic steroid.

Prohormones such as androstenedione, DHEA, norandrostenedione and other precursors could legally be sold as dietary supplements in the U.S. until 2004, when Congress amended the Anabolic Steroid Control Act so they are now considered anabolic steroids. However, they are still legal to buy and use in the United Kingdom.

Side Effects of Prohormones and Anabolic Steroids

It is well known that anabolic steroids can be hazardous to one's health, leading to possible side effects like acne, hair loss, an enlarged prostate and breast tissue issues for users.

Prohormones are precursors to hormones that the body can transform into full-fledged ones through an enzymatic process, creating the hormones we know as progesterone, testosterone and DHEA.

Anabolic steroids pose serious risks because they interfere with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and shut off natural testosterone production from within.

Since these drugs are frequently used by teenage boys not yet ready for puberty, anabolic steroid induced hypogonadism (ASIH) could result in long term effects that are unknown at this point.

Anabolic steroids have the potential to be very hazardous to liver and other internal organ health, with potential side effects including liver damage, cardiovascular issues, increased cholesterol and reduced physical function. As such, most sports regulatory bodies have banned these medications.

It isn't uncommon for heavy steroid users involved within bodybuilding to lose their lives due to the side effects. Notable deseased include Rich Piana, Ben Harnett and Dallas McCarver.

A study in Ireland has found that only 6% of amateur athletes are aware of their risks. However, amateurs are more likely to be unaware of the adverse cardiovascular effects of anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids use can lead to drug dependency and addiction. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), abuse or dependence on AAS is recognized as a diagnosable condition. 

Conclusion

In contrast to anabolic steroids, prohormones are not artificially synthesized; rather they act as precursors of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and its aromatized forms, known as enanthates, that the body converts into active forms through metabolism.

Prohormones aim to stimulate production of these anabolic hormones in order to achieve similar effects as synthetic anabolic steroids with potentially lesser side effects.

Anabolic steroids are drugs used to build muscle mass, strength and endurance while shortening recovery times between workouts.

Chemically derived from testosterone, anabolic steroids may have serious adverse health consequences when taken improperly or without a valid medical prescription from a licensed provider.

They may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and liver damage, increase risk for secondary male sexual characteristics like facial hair and deeper voices among other undesirable traits and cause other changes such as shrunken testicles in male users as well as alter menstrual cycles among female users as well.

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