Lipids I
Lipids II
 Elmhurst College
Hydrogenation Micelle Anabolic Steroids  Chemistry Department
Olestra Detergents and Surfactants Birth Control  Virtual ChemBook

Anabolic Steroids


The male hormone testosterone, a steroid, is repsonsible for the build up of muscles in men. Since this is a well known fact, athletes try to take extra testoserone or other similar substances which will presumably hence this effect. Testosterone can not be taken orally, but must be injected; and has several other undesirable side effects.

See also Sex Homones.

Testosterone - Chime in new window

Anabolic steroid use can lead to a number of dangerous side effects including, lowered levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which benefits the heart, and lowered levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein; stimulation of prostate tumors; clotting disorders, and liver problems. Psychologically, anabolic steroids can make a person more aggressive. Cosmetic changes may include baldness, increased body hair, acne, and breast growth in men.

For these reasons, anabolic steroids which are synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male hormone, testosterone, have been developed. Substances that mimic the male sex hormones known as androgens. There are more than 100 different anabolic steroids which vary in structure, duration of action, relative effects and toxicities.

Steroids require prescriptions for medical use. However due to the illegal distribution from US pharmacies, smuggling from other countries, and synthesis in US laboratories, anabolic steroids can be easily obtained for abuse.

Another way to increase testosterone concentration is to use a prohormones which the body converts to testosterone. One such prohormone is 4-androstenedione, also known as "andro". Androstenedione was first developed in the 1970's by East German scientists to try to enhance their athletes' Olympic performances. These prohormones are legally available and do not have the same side effects as the anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids and andros are banned in the Olympics, professional football, and college athelitics. Mark McGwire has used andro, which is allowed in baseball.

Click for larger image 

Structures of Anabolic Steroids:

Some examples of the anabolic steroids are given in the graphic on the left.

 Quiz: Which functional groups are in testosterone?  
Which functional group is on C # 17 in nandrolone?  
 Which chemical reaction at C # 17 would change "andro" into testosterone?