There are three types of steroids:
1) Corticosteroids - Any of the natural or synthetic hormones associated with the adrenal cortex, which influences or controls key processes of the body, as carbohydrate and protein metabolism, electrolyte and water balance, and the functions of the cardiovascular system, the skeletal muscle, the kidneys, and other organs.
- These steroids are found in prescription and non-prescription creams and ointments that control rashes and itching. Two common trade names are Cortaid(R) and Lanacort(R).
2) Estrogens and Progestogens - These are the female sex hormones. They are responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in women and maintain the female reproductive system.
- Estrogens and progestogens are the active ingredients in prescription birth control tablets.
3) Androgens - Testosterone is the androgen that leads to the development of male secondary sexual characteristics and maintains the male reproductive system.
- Testosterone is commonly prescribed in the treatment of female breast cancer, androgen deficiency, and for stimulation of growth, weight gain, and red blood cell production. These are commonly known as "anabolic steroids" because they promote muscle growth. They are also commonly used to help patients recover from a surgery and cancer treatment that resulted in damage to muscle tissue.