Originally published: 07.MAY.2021
Last updated: 12.DEC.2023

Think of testosterone and what comes to mind? Maybe it’s sex drive and the deepening of the voice or maybe it’s sperm production and facial hair - whatever association you have with this primary male sex hormone, it’s safe to say that it plays a number of important roles in the male body; including muscle mass and strength.

While some athletes may opt to take a form of steroids, known as anabolic steroids, to potentially increase muscle size and improve performance, testosterone is actually the main anabolic steroid produced naturally by your body.

See also: Low Testosterone Symptoms in Men: Your Quick Guide to Low Testosterone

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Are Steroids and Testosterone the Same Thing?

Testosterone is naturally produced by the testes in men and works to stimulate the development of male characteristics. As this primary hormone plays so many important roles, men who have low testosterone levels, or hypogonadism, may consider testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

The primary aim of this therapy is to bring testosterone levels back to a healthy level. It’s important to note that TRT is only approved by the FDA for those with clinical hypogonadism, and is not recommended for low testosterone that has occurred with age.

Anabolic steroids are sometimes taken by athletes in the hopes of improving performance and/or muscle strength. Although some of these anabolic steroids typically contain testosterone or synthetic modifications of testosterone, they do not compare to TRT. TRT involves consistent monitoring by a medical professional and aims to bring testosterone levels to a ‘normal’ level - anabolic steroids are often used in much higher doses with the primary aim to build muscle [1].

It’s important to note that testosterone should never be used to enhance athletic performance.

See also: Low Testosterone Levels and Bodybuilding: What’s the Connection?

Is it Bad to Take Testosterone?

Male hypogonadism is a condition where the testes don’t produce enough testosterone. This can develop in a number of different stages in a man’s life and can bring with a number of symptoms such as muscle loss, loss of sex drive, and erectile dysfunction.

With this in mind, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is often considered for those living with the condition in order to help reverse these unfavorable symptoms.

See also: What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

Anabolic steroids are often taken at doses that are much higher than would be prescribed by a medical professional and are more often than not, not subject to government safety standards. This of course means there are some serious consequences associated with them [2].

Men who take anabolic steroids may experience

  • Shrunken testicles
  • Infertility
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Prominent breasts

Women who take anabolic steroids may experience

  • Deeper voice
  • Increased body hair growth
  • Infrequent or absent periods
  • Hair loss/baldness

Other consequences and side effects of anabolic steroid use include

  • Liver abnormalities
  • High blood pressure
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Inhibited growth
  • Increase the risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol)

Is Testosterone a Drug?

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and the main anabolic steroid naturally produced in the body. Testosterone injections are sometimes used to treat men who have low testosterone levels (hypogonadism) to help with symptoms.

If testosterone is used incorrectly, it can cause quite dangerous and at times, irreversible, side effects - it should never be used as a performance-enhancing drug. If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, it’s important to get in touch with a healthcare professional for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

See also: Male Hypogonadism: Signs, Symptoms, and Causes

Can you Improve Testosterone Levels Naturally?

Although there are no tried and tested ways to increase testosterone levels naturally, there are a number of ways that can help to maintain healthy testosterone levels, these include:

  • Stick to a healthy weight
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Stay active
  • Eliminate stress
  • Get a sufficient amount of sleep

Don’t forget, it’s completely natural to experience a slight drop in testosterone with age. If you’re concerned about any symptoms you may be experiencing such as weight gain or reduced muscle mass, it’s important to get in touch with a medical professional to know more.

See also: Does Low Testosterone Equal Low Mood?

How to Test Testosterone Levels

One of the most reliable ways to know more about your testosterone levels is through a test. A sample can be taken with your doctor or from the comfort of your own home with a lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s Testosterone Test can measure the amount of testosterone present in your blood with a simple finger prick sample. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to answer any questions you may have during or after the process.

You should consider taking the test if:

  • You are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • You suffer from Klinefelter syndrome
  • You suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • You suffer from hemochromatosis
  • You have a pituitary gland disorder
  • You are obese
  • You suffer from chronic stress
  • You take anabolic steroids
  • You have a family history of low testosterone
  • You suffer from thyroid issues
  • You have kidney or liver disease
  • You have anorexia nervosa

See also: How do you Check Testosterone Levels From Home?

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks. Online: Mayoclinic.org
  2. Mayo Clinic. Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks. Online: Mayoclinic.org