A steroid hormone is a chemically inert, naturally occurring compound consisting of four carbon atoms arranged in an unusual molecular configuration. Steroids have only two main biological roles: as hormones that stimulate cell growth and fluidity in the membranes of cells; and as ligands that regulate the activity of other signaling proteins. In animals, steroids are produced by the ovary and the adrenal glands as hormones of defense against foreign substances. In humans, steroids are manufactured in the liver, pancreas, brain, testes, bones and kidneys and act as either stimulants of growth or signal substances by which other tissues respond to other stimuli.
Because of their nature and function, steroids are often used interchangeably with other compounds that cause similar or identical effects and are therefore classified as synthetic drugs. Many steroids are also referred to as hormones. In recent years, some synthetic hormones have been banned by the FDA from use because they have been linked to serious side effects, including life-threatening heart attacks. Other synthetic drugs are being developed for medical purposes and are now available over the counter. Steroid hormones are not necessarily illegal, but because they can have many unwanted side effects, they are not used regularly.
The three different hormones, testosterone, estrogen and glucocorticoids, can be divided into a series of groups and subgroups. The testosterone group consists of testosterone propionate, testosterone enanthate. The estrogen group includes estrogens such as estradiol, androestrogens such as dutasteride, and phytoestrogens such as soy supplements. The glucocorticoids group includes glucocorticoids like cortisone, hydrocortisone, naltrexone and prednisone. As you can see, these hormones are used for distinct reasons and should be used carefully and under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.
One of the most commonly prescribed steroid hormone for anemia is glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are an anti-inflammatory hormone. Glucocorticoids can be used to relieve pain and swelling in the body as well as reduce inflammation, edema, fluid retention and diarrhea. When taking glucocorticoids, be sure to discuss them with your doctor first. Glucocorticoids may interact with any medications that you are taking, so make sure to get all of your prescriptions in writing and discuss any questions you may have with your doctor before beginning a new medication.
Testosterone can be used for many things, but the most common uses are to increase muscle growth and to produce higher testosterone levels in males. In women, testosterone is known to promote pregnancy and breast milk production. For both men and women, testosterone may be used to prevent osteoporosis and to increase bone density.
Some doctors prescribe steroids for patients with high blood pressure and hypertension. Blood pressure often increases in people who have undergone surgery or radiation treatment or have suffered from organ transplantation. While testosterone has been shown to be useful in controlling high blood pressure in women, some doctors do not consider testosterone to be an appropriate hormone for men with erectile dysfunction or for patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment. Also, some doctors do not recommend using testosterone to increase weight gain in patients with cardiac or respiratory problems. In addition, while testosterone may help control symptoms of menopause in some patients, testosterone can cause increased bone density in patients who have experienced menopause.
Some steroids may also be prescribed for patients with hypoglycemia, an abnormally low blood sugar level. Hypoglycemia is caused by deficiencies in amino acid levels. Many people who have diabetes experience this problem have reported better results when steroids are used to help raise their body’s insulin and glucose levels. While testosterone may help to control symptoms of hypoglycemia, testosterone should be used under the supervision of a licensed professional to avoid complications and side effects.
There are many other health conditions and medical conditions that require the use of steroids but should only be considered for use if prescribed by a physician or through the use of natural sources. Be sure to discuss the possibility of steroid use with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning any new regimen.