Yes, testosterone is a steroid hormone that exists naturally in men and women, although in significantly smaller amounts in women.
Although testosterone is an endogenous hormone, more and more men are taking testosterone exogenously (known as testosterone replacement therapy); usually administered by injection.
Testosterone is also one of the many anabolic steroids that bodybuilders use to improve their physique.
However, testosterone is also prescribed by doctors to men who want to fight low testosterone and infertility, so it is not only used to optimize body composition.
Doctors will not prescribe testosterone to men who want to improve their physique by building more muscle / fat burning. Therefore, weight lifters will buy testosterone through the black market, which obviously carries its risks, including counterfeit / contaminated products and its legal implications, as testosterone is a type III controlled substance and therefore it is illegal (no medical need for the drug).
However, there are legal alternatives for anabolic steroids designed to reproduce muscle properties without any hard effects.
So yes, testosterone is an anabolic steroid, although some men prefer to refer to testosterone as TRT (as it seems less taboo).
Testosterone vs. steroids
We know that testosterone is an anabolic steroid, but how does it compare to other ASAs?
Essentially, all anabolic steroids are forms of exogenous testosterone, but with modified structures, thus producing variable effects in terms of benefits / side effects.
However, testosterone is one of the safest anabolic steroids in existence and the first to hit the market in 1939.
No anabolic steroid is guaranteed to be 100% safe, especially when used in higher doses of bodybuilding style (compared to therapeutic amounts) and is taken without a doctor’s supervision.
However, the risks are low and often very manageable for testosterone, so it remains an FDA-approved drug to this day. It is 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 volumetric agent to generate large amounts of size and mass in users. The reason it is so well tolerated is because it is an injectable compound that is not hepatotoxic and therefore does not stick to the liver (an organ that oral steroids can severely compromise).
Consequently, testosterone does not stimulate liver lipase in the liver, keeping cholesterol levels more stable compared to other anabolic steroids.
Therefore, blood pressure will increase when exogenous testosterone is taken, though not to the degree of other anabolic steroids; therefore, it is more heart friendly.
Testosterone is also a skillful fat burner compared to other ASAs. This is because testosterone has strong androgenic properties that lead to better lipolysis (fat loss).
Side effects of testosterone
Although testosterone is considered one of the safest anabolic steroids, it has no side effects.
We mentioned earlier that it will cause a small increase in blood pressure (although more moderate increases in high doses are possible).
Testosterone can also accelerate hair loss and recession in the scalp, due to the enzyme alpha reductase 5-a which facilitates conversion to 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 because the body detects large amounts of exogenous testosterone entering, thus stopping natural production.
Therefore, when testosterone is stopped, natural levels can remain low for several weeks or months, before returning to normal.
Is Testosterone Boosting a Steroid?
No, testosterone boosters are not steroids, as they usually contain natural ingredients, so they only increase endogenous testosterone levels indirectly, rather than being a direct way to ingest pure testosterone.
Testosterone boosters will not cause any problems when it comes to drug testing for athletes, as they will not cause serum testosterone to exceed natural limits.
Therefore, natural testosterone enhancers will not cause the same effects as exogenous testosterone (the anabolic steroid). Consequently, the results are believed to be less side effects.
However, some people have reported steroid-like effects while using natural testosterone enhancers. These are people who responded exceptionally well to certain herbs and amino acids that increase testosterone based on their genetic code.
Testosterone boosters are usually oral pills, while testosterone (the anabolic steroid) is primarily an injectable product.
Is Testosterone Cypionate a Steroid?
Yes, cypionate and enanthate are the two most common injectable steroid esters and forms of exogenous testosterone (usually prescribed to people with TRT).
These esters are also very popular among bodybuilders who want significant muscle and strength gains; and are usually taken in cycles of 8 to 12 weeks.