Yes, testosterone is a steroid hormone that naturally exists in men and women, albeit in significantly smaller quantities in females.
Although testosterone is an endogenous hormone, increasingly more men are taking testosterone in exogenous form (known as testosterone replacement therapy); being commonly administered via injection.
Testosterone is also one of many anabolic steroids bodybuilders use to enhance their physiques.
However, testosterone is also prescribed by doctors to men looking to combat low testosterone and infertility, thus it isn’t just used to optimize body composition.
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Doctors will not prescribe testosterone to men simply wanting to enhance their physiques by building more muscle/burning fat. Thus, weight lifters will purchase testosterone via the black market, which obviously comes with its risks, including counterfeit/tainted products and legal implications with testosterone being a type III controlled substance and thus is illegal (without a medical need for the drug).
However, there are legal alternatives for anabolic steroids which are designed to replicate the muscle-building properties without any harsh effects.
So, yes testosterone is an anabolic steroid, although some men prefer to refer to testosterone as TRT (as this sounds less taboo).
Testosterone vs Steroids
We know that testosterone is an anabolic steroid, but how does it compare to other AAS?
Essentially, all anabolic steroids are forms of exogenous testosterone, but with modified structures, thus producing varying effects in regards to benefits/side effects.
Testosterone however is one of the safest anabolic steroids in existence and the first that ever came to market in 1939.
No anabolic steroid is guaranteed to be 100% safe, especially when used in higher bodybuilding style dosages (compared to therapeutic amounts) and taken without the supervision of a doctor.
However, the risks are low and often very manageable on testosterone, hence how it remains an FDA approved drug to this day. It’s also the most popular base steroid in advanced bodybuilder cycles, and the recommended compound for beginner steroid-users (for a first cycle).
Testosterone is generally used as a bulking agent, to build large amounts of size and mass in users. The reason it is very well tolerated is due to it being an injectable compound that is not hepatotoxic, thus doesn’t strain the liver (an organ that oral steroids can severely compromise).
Consequently, testosterone doesn’t stimulate hepatic lipase in the liver, keeping cholesterol levels more stable, compared to other anabolic steroids.
Thus, blood pressure will increase when taking exogenous testosterone, although not to the degree of other anabolic steroids — thus it is more heart-friendly.
Testosterone is also an adept fat burner compared to other AAS. This is due to testosterone having strong androgenic properties which result in enhanced lipolysis (fat loss).
Testosterone Side Effects
Although testosterone is considered one of the safest anabolic steroids, it doesn’t come without side effects.
We previously mentioned it will cause a small increase in blood pressure (although more moderate increases are possible on high doses).
Testosterone can also accelerate hair loss and recession on the scalp, due to the 5-a alpha reductase enzyme facilitating the conversion into DHT.
Acne and oily skin are also possible, in users genetically sensitive to increased sebum production.
Low testosterone levels, ironically enough, are another side effect. This is due to the body detecting large quantities of exogenous testosterone coming in, thus it halts natural production.
Therefore, when testosterone is discontinued, natural levels can remain low for several weeks or months, before returning to normal again.
Is a Testosterone Booster a Steroid?
No, testosterone boosters are not steroids, as they typically only contain natural ingredients, thus only raise endogenous testosterone levels indirectly, rather than being a direct form of pure testosterone being ingested.
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Testosterone boosters will not cause any problems in regards to drug tests for athletes, as they will not cause serum testosterone to surpass natural limits.
Thus, natural testosterone boosters will not cause the same effects as exogenous testosterone (the anabolic steroid). Consequently, the results are thought to be less and so too side effects.
However, some people have reported steroid-like effects whilst using natural testosterone boosters. These are people who responded exceptionally well to certain testosterone-boosting herbs and amino acids based on their genetic code.
Testosterone boosters are typically oral pills, whereas testosterone (the anabolic steroid) is predominantly an injectable.
Is Testosterone Cypionate a Steroid?
Yes, cypionate and enanthate are the two most common injectable steroid esters, and forms of exogenous testosterone (commonly prescribed to people on TRT).
These esters are also very popular among bodybuilders coveting significant muscle and strength gains; and are typically taken in 8-12 week cycles.
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