What is Anabolic Testosterone?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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The term “anabolic testosterone” is often used to refer to synthetic testosterone which is used in medical treatment or as a performance enhancing drug. There are a number of legitimate uses for this kind of testosterone, ranging from managing weight in AIDS patients to treating certain types of cancer. As a performance enhancing drug, anabolic testosterone is explicitly banned by a number of sports organizations due to health concerns and the belief that it gives athletes an unfair advantage.

Testosterone is a steroid hormone classified among the androgens, hormones which are associated with the development of male sexual characteristics. Both men and women produce testosterone naturally, although men produce much more, with production increasing rapidly during puberty. This steroid hormone is anabolic in nature, meaning that it builds up, in contrast with catabolic steroids, which are designed to help the body break things down.

In the body, testosterone helps to build up muscle tissue, explaining why men bulk up during puberty. This same trait can be very useful in medical treatment and weight management, as patients can be given controlled doses of anabolics to encourage them to gain weight. Athletes and body builders are interested in this substance for the same reason, as it can build up muscle which can help them perform at a higher level.


Natural testosterone is quickly used and eliminated by the body, which makes it unsuitable for medical treatment. As a result, testosterone which is introduced to the body must be synthetic, with a formulation which allows it to linger in the body so that it will be effective. Some compounds disperses in as little as a day, while other types may linger for up to three weeks. The drug can be delivered by patch, injection, or pill.

Common side effects of anabolic testosterone, whether it is being used legitimately or not, include weight gain, the development of acne, deposition of fat, flu-like symptoms, water retention, high blood pressure, liver toxicity, and gynecomastia. For this reason, the drug is usually taken in cycles which allow the body to bulk up without risking side effects. It also needs to be taken under the supervision of a doctor who can provide appropriate nutritional recommendations and monitoring of the patient's health.

Steroid abuse is a major problem in many competitive sports. In addition to unscrupulous athletes who use anabolics despite bans, some athletes who are trying to stay steroid-free are exposed to it through athletic supplements which contain synthetic testosterone which has not been disclosed in the ingredient list. Athletes, doctors, sports fans, and coaches have all raised concerns about the widespread illegitimate use of steroids including testosterone and their effects on sports as a whole in addition to the health of individual athletes.


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