What are androgenic/anabolic steroids?
Androgen - generic term for an agent, usually a hormone, that stimulates activity of the accessory male sex organs, encourages development of male sex characteristics, or prevents changes in the latter that follow castration.
The common term used for androgenic steroids is "anabolic steroids", these are steroids which mirror the chemical make up of the male sex hormones (androgens), in fact, andro and testosterone are inter-convertible in our body.
Testosterone produces it's effect on tissues by altering the cellular biochemistry in an interaction with the cell nucleus. The testosterone diffuses into the cell (it is lipid soluble, and therefore can cross cell membranes uninhibited). Once inside the cell, it combines with a testosterone binding protein which transports it to the cell nucleus. Here the testosterone interacts with one or more specific binding sites and activates the synthesis of one or more proteins which may be either enzymes or structural proteins. (Mottram, 1988).
The initial development of these steroids took place in the 1930's, for the purpose of treating hypogonadism. This is a condition where the testes do not produce enough testosterone, consequently effecting normal physical growth and sexual functioning.
During this time, it was also discovered that these drugs could stimulate enhanced development of skeletal muscle. This knowledge led to widespread use in the bodybuilding/weight lifting community which has extended to other sports.
Effects of androgenic steroids on the voice, general effects
Common uses for androgenic steroids
Implications of androgenic steroid use in voice therapy