Anabolic steroids" is the familiar name for synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones (androgens). They promote the growth of skeletal muscle (anabolic effects) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic effects) and also have some other effects. The term "anabolic steroids" will be used throughout this report because of its familiarity, although the proper term for these compounds is "anabolic-androgenic" steroids.
Anabolic steroids were developed in the late 1930s , a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient growth, development, and sexual functioning. The primary medical uses of compounds are to treat delayed puberty, some types of impotence, and wasting of the body .
During the 1930s, scientists discovered that anabolic steroids could facilitate the growth of skeletal muscle in laboratory animals, which led to use of the compounds first by bodybuilders and weightlifters and then by athletes in other sports. Steroid abuse has become so widespread in athletics that it affects the outcome of sports contests.
More than 100 different anabolic steroids have been developed, but they require a prescription to be used legally in the United States. Most steroids that are used illegally are smuggled in from other countries, illegally diverted from U.S. pharmacies, or synthesized in clandestine laboratories.