The term "anabolic steroids" refers to testosterone derivatives that are used either clinically or by athletes for their anabolic properties. However, scientists have questioned the anabolic effects of testosterone and its derivatives in normal men for decades. Most scientists concluded that anabolic steroids do not increase muscle size or strength in people with normal gonadal function and have discounted positive results as unduly influenced by positive expectations of athletes, inferior experimental design, or poor data analysis. There has been a tremendous disconnect between the conviction of athletes that these drugs are effective and the conviction of scientists that they aren't. In part, this disconnect results from the completely different dose regimens used by scientists to document the correction of deficiency states and by athletes striving to optimize athletic performance. Recently, careful scientific study of suprapharmacologic doses in clinical settings - including aging, human immunodeficiency virus, and other disease states - supports the efficacy of these regimens. However, the mechanism by which these doses act remains unclear. "Anabolism" is defined as any state in which nitrogen is differentially retained in lean body mass, either through stimulation of protein synthesis and/or decreased breakdown of protein anywhere in the body. Testosterone, the main gonadal steroid in males, has marked anabolic effects in addition to its effects on reproduction that are easily observed in developing boys and when hypogonadal men receive testosterone as replacement therapy. However, its efficacy in normal men, as during its use in athletes or in clinical situations in which men are eugonadal, has been debated. A growing literature suggests that use of suprapharmacologic doses can, indeed, be anabolic in certain situations; however, the clear identification of these situations and the mechanism by which anabolic effects occur are unclear. Furthermore, the pharmacology of "anabolism" is in its infancy: no drugs currently available are "purely" anabolic but all possess androgenic properties as well. The present review briefly recapitulates the historic literature about the androgenic/anabolic steroids and describes literature supporting the anabolic activity of these drugs in normal people, focusing on the use of suprapharmacologic doses by athletes and clinicians to achieve anabolic effects in normal humans. We will present the emerging literature that is beginning to explore more specific mechanisms that might mediate the effects of suprapharmacologic regimens. The terms anabolic/androgenic steroids will be used throughout to reflect the combined actions of all drugs that are currently available.
What's known on the subject? and What does the study add? The negative impact of AAS abuse on male fertility is well known by urologists. The secondary hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is often highlighted when AAS and fertility are being discussed. On the other hand, the patterns of use, mechanisms of action and direct effects over the testicle are usually overseen. The present study reviews the vast formal and "underground" culture of AAS, as well as their overall implications. Specific considerations about their impact on the male reproductive system are made, with special attention to the recent data on direct damage to the testicle. To our knowledge this kind of overview is absolutely unique, offering a distinguished set of information to the day-by-day urologists. For several decades, testosterone and its synthetic derivatives have been used with anabolic and androgenic purposes. Initially, these substances were restricted to professional bodybuilders, becoming gradually more popular among recreational power athletes. Currently, as many as 3 million anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) users have been reported in the United States, and considering its increasing prevalence, it has become an issue of major concern. Infertility is defined as the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse, with male factor being present in up to 50% of all infertile couples. Several conditions may be related to male infertility. Substance abuse, including AAS, is commonly associated to transient or persistent impairment on male reproductive function, through different pathways. Herein, a brief overview on AAS, specially oriented to urologists, is offered. Steroids biochemistry, patterns of use, physiological and clinical issues are enlightened. A further review about fertility outcomes among male AAS abusers is also presented, including the classic reports on transient axial inhibition, and the more recent experimental reports on structural and genetic sperm damage.
Awareness and educational efforts are working to help prevent anabolic steroid abuse in schools and communities. The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) and the Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA) programs, funded by the NIDA, and supported by the Oregon Health & Science University programs is teaching athletes that they do not need steroids to build powerful muscles and improve athletic performance. These programs provide weight-training and nutrition alternatives, increase healthy behaviors, less likelihood to try steroids, and less likelihood to engage in other dangerous behaviors such as drinking and driving, use of marijuana and alcohol , and and improved body image. Bother Congress and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration endorsed these model prevention programs. 4