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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
September 20, 2023
When it comes to performance enhancement, the distinction between acceptable medical treatment and illegal drugs can get very confusing. A case in point is the difference between steroids and testosterone replacement therapy, with many people believing that TRT equates to steroids.
In this steroids vs TRT comparison, we break through the confusion, highlighting their key differences and implications for those looking to optimize their hormones and improve their performance.
Here's what we'll cover:
Testosterone replacement therapy is a medical treatment to increase a person's testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone, controlling the development of male sexual characteristics, muscle growth, and sex drive. Both men and women produce testosterone, but men do so at a rate about twenty times higher.
Women produce testosterone in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Men produce it in the testes, increasing quantity during puberty. This promotes the transition from child to adult, such as the deepening of the voice, facial hair growth, and strengthening of bones and muscles. It also affects mood, energy levels, and cognitive abilities.
Low testosterone levels in men result in a lack of energy, weakness, low sex drive, muscle and bone mass loss, depression, and general lethargy. Men with less than 300 ng/dL of testosterone in their blood are medically considered hypogonadism or low testosterone levels. Aging, specific medical problems, and lifestyle decisions can cause reduced testosterone levels.
TRT is a medical intervention that a doctor may prescribe as a treatment for hypogonadism. This treatment involves delivering exogenous testosterone to the body by injection, gel, patches, or implanted pellets. Testosterone medications aim to raise testosterone levels to a normal and healthy range to reduce low T symptoms.
Anabolic androgenic steroids are synthetic (man-made) versions of testosterone. They are classified as a type of performance-enhancing drug called androgens and can promote muscle building, strength gains, and overall performance improvement.
Doctors legitimately prescribe anabolic steroids to treat disorders that cause muscle loss, hormonal imbalances, and even delayed puberty. In certain situations, steroids boost bone growth and muscular mass and enhance general health.
Athletes, bodybuilders, and strength competitors who want a competitive edge frequently abuse anabolic steroids outside of medical settings. In the belief that these drugs can help them reach their physical peak, these people use steroids to boost muscle size, strength, and recovery.
Different countries have different laws governing anabolic steroids. They are prohibited without a prescription and are frequently categorized as controlled substances. As a result, possessing anabolic steroids without a valid prescription is illegal in many parts of the world. This is due to their potential for abuse, health dangers, and unfair advantages in sports.
Anabolic steroid abuse can result in a raft of health problems.
In the United States, possessing steroid use and anabolic steroids without a valid medical prescription is illegal. There are different state and federal penalties for abusing steroids, including fines and jail. The enforcement of laws relating to steroids is carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Many sporting organizations have banned the use of anabolic steroids.
No, TRT is not the same as anabolic steroids. While the synthetic testosterone used in TRT is a steroid hormone, there are important distinctions between it and illegal steroids used for physical enhancement purposes. We will go deeper into each of their characteristics and functions in the following sections.
TRT and steroids both administer synthetic testosterone to the body. However, they are used with different objectives, risks, and legalities. Let's break down those differences:
Steroids: People take anabolic steroids to improve their ability to build muscle mass, enhance their overall physical performance and recovery from exercise, and to get stronger. The goal is to unnaturally elevate their testosterone levels beyond normal levels.
TRT: This is a medically prescribed course of treatment to overcome hypogonadism or low testosterone levels. Before being prescribed this treatment, a person will have to undergo a series of tests to determine whether they genuinely need it. Typically, men with blood testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL qualify for TRT. The treatment aims to increase testosterone and return testosterone to normal levels to reduce the symptoms of low testosterone.
Steroids: The possession of steroids without a valid medical prescription is illegal in many parts of the world, including the USA. Penalties may include fines and time behind bars.
TRT: TRT treatment that has been medically prescribed is legal. As a result, a person undergoing TRT can legally have synthetic testosterone in their home or possession, provided they can produce a valid prescription.
Steroids: Steroid abusers generally take the drug unchecked or unsupervised by healthcare professionals. Since there is little expert guidance, users usually obtain these medications illegally, which can pose serious health concerns.
TRT: During the treatment, a medical professional oversees the administration of TRT and keeps track of the patient's hormone levels and general well-being. The objective is to maintain therapeutic testosterone levels and control potential adverse effects.
Steroids: Users of anabolic steroids frequently use doses of testosterone higher than what the body naturally produces of the androgen testosterone.
TRT: TRT works to get a person's testosterone levels back to where they should be physiologically. As a result, dosages are carefully monitored by a medical professional and may be adjusted in line with analysis results. With this strategy, the danger of high levels of testosterone and the resulting problems is reduced.
Steroids: Anabolic steroid abuse may cause serious health problems. These include cardiovascular disease, liver problems, hormonal imbalance, mental health issues, and addiction.
TRT: This treatment is carefully monitored to minimize side effects and is generally considered safe. To be sure, it has possible hazards and side effects, just like any medical procedure, which a healthcare professional should closely monitor and manage.
The research regarding the benefits and risks of TRT is often small-scale and uses unrealistic dosages (1). Consequently, the research on this subject is not settled.
A 2014 meta-study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine took a comprehensive look at previous studies (randomized control trials) evaluating the effects of TRT. The results showed that TRT can improve erectile dysfunction and libido (2). It was also seen that bringing testosterone levels up to normal through TRT relieves prostate risk and venous thromboembolism.
Compared to abusing anabolic steroids, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has significant advantages for people with clinically documented low testosterone levels (hypogonadism).
TRT has many advantages over going down the illegal anabolic steroid use route. Here are the main benefits of TRT:
TRT is delivered under the direction of a licensed healthcare professional, ensuring that the treatment is customized to the patient's individual needs and medical situation. It is a legal therapy intended to treat actual hormonal deficits.
Anabolic steroids are frequently misused without medical supervision, resulting in unchecked and potentially hazardous use. Users often self-administer, running the danger of giving themselves the wrong dosage without properly monitoring any adverse effects.
TRT is intended to reduce the risk of high hormone levels by bringing testosterone levels back to within the normal physiological range. It is linked to lower health risks when used as directed for a valid medical reason.
Health Problems: Misuse of anabolic steroids can result in various health hazards, such as heart problems, liver damage, hormone imbalances, and psychological consequences. High doses of synthetic steroids utilized for performance improvement can be extremely harmful.
When recommended by a qualified healthcare professional for an appropriate medical condition, TRT is a medical procedure that is both legal and governed. TRT users who follow their authorized treatment regimen are not subject to legal repercussions.
The use of steroids without a valid prescription is illegal in many lands. You risk serious legal ramifications if you follow this course.
The goal of TRT is to treat low testosterone. By bringing it back to normal levels, symptoms such as weakness, loss of bone and muscle tissue, lethargy, sexual dysfunction, and depression may be overcome.
While anabolic steroids may temporarily boost muscle growth and strength, these gains will disappear when you stop using. The long-term side effects can be severe, including psychological problems and hormonal imbalance issues.
TRT is customized to each patient's particular requirements, ensuring that testosterone levels are optimized while minimizing potential adverse effects. The testosterone treatment also is personalized to address specific medical issues.
Anabolic steroid users frequently adopt a one-size-fits-all philosophy and take excessive doses with unpredictable and dangerous repercussions, including negative physical and psychological effects.
It's important to realize that both Testosterone Replacement Therapy and the improper usage of anabolic steroids may have hazards and negative effects. But comparing the two strategies, there are considerable differences in the gravity and likelihood of these side effects.
Here is a comparison of the adverse effects and dangers of TRT vs steroids:
Polycythemia: Testosterone replacement therapy may cause increased red blood cell formation. This can result in a condition called polycythemia, which increases the likelihood of blood clots, stroke, and other heart problems.
Acne and Skin Conditions: Some TRT users may develop skin-related adverse effects, such as acne. These side effects are usually manageable and minor. TRT can occasionally result in fluid retention, resulting in swelling or edema. Typically, this adverse impact is transient and curable.
Mood Swings or Irritability: Although TRT can boost a person's mood and energy levels when they have low testosterone, not everyone will experience these effects. These consequences are typically less severe than the psychological ones connected to steroid abuse.
Testicular Atrophy: Because prolonged TRT inhibits the normal synthesis of testosterone, it might cause testicular atrophy (shrinkage of the testicles). This negative effect can be reversed. Theoretically, TRT could worsen prostate symptoms in people who already have problems with their prostate. Routine monitoring is necessary to manage this risk.
Working with a competent medical expert is essential to reducing the hazards connected with TRT. A skilled healthcare expert can monitor hormone levels can be monitored, change dosages as necessary, and manage any potential difficulties or side effects.
Cardiovascular Problems: Misusing anabolic steroids can dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular issues, including hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes.
Liver Damage: Taking oral steroids long-term or in large doses might strain the liver and cause tumors or other damage.
Hormonal Imbalances: Steroid abuse may upset the hormonal balance of the body. This can cause testicular atrophy, infertility, and mental health issues, including 'roid rage'.
Physical Side Effects: Common side effects of steroid abuse include balding, acne, and the development of male breast tissue (gynecomastia).
Dependence and Withdrawal: Misusing steroids can cause psychological and physical dependence as well as withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped.
Always get your testosterone legally and under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider. Since testosterone is a prescription drug, its use should be closely managed to guarantee its efficacy and safety. Here are some safe, legal ways to get testosterone:
Obtain Advice From A Healthcare Professional: The first step is to make an appointment with a healthcare professional. This person will authorize a blood test to determine your testosterone blood level, review your medical history, check your symptoms, and decide whether you qualify for TRT.
Prescription: Your doctor will prescribe the proper type of testosterone therapy if low testosterone levels (hypogonadism) or another health issue are determined to necessitate TRT.
Purchase Testosterone From A Reliable Source: You can buy testosterone from a drugstore or a reputable online TRT clinic once you have a valid prescription. You must ensure that your drug's supplier is authorized and controlled.
Work With A Healthcare Professional: When considering testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), it's essential to put safety and efficacy first while collaborating with a skilled healthcare professional. Many people are using online TRT clinics to have easy access to professional advice and treatment alternatives.
Go here for an in-depth review of the best online TRT clinics operating right now.
If you're ready to move forward with determining your eligibility for TRT, we recommend contacting Fountain TRT for a qualified review. Hormone replacement therapy is Fountain TRT's area of expertise. They can give you individualized advice and treatment choices suited to your particular requirements and objectives.
Putting your health and well-being first is essential, and engaging with qualified experts may make the path to hormonal optimization safer and more successful. You can confidently start your TRT journey with the assistance of dependable professionals like Fountain TRT.
Still got TRT questions? Here are the answers to the four most commonly asked TRT questions asked online:
Yes, TRT can help people with low testosterone levels build muscle. The body creates and repairs proteins, including muscle tissue, through the process of protein synthesis, which is encouraged by testosterone. Protein synthesis is boosted by appropriate testosterone levels, which promotes muscular growth and recovery.
The muscle-building effects of TRT will be enhanced by weight training and a healthy, high-protein diet. People with low testosterone levels often experience the benefits of TRT on muscle growth more strongly. The increase in strength and muscular mass could be less pronounced in people with normal testosterone levels.
TRT may affect natural testosterone production, but it is not likely to 'ruin' it. Your body's overall levels rise when you take exogenous (external) testosterone. This could tell the body's feedback mechanisms to slow down or stop the testes' normal testosterone production. As a result, testosterone levels in the body may decrease when receiving TRT.
Some people may encounter a brief period where their natural testosterone production is inhibited after stopping TRT. Individual differences in recovery time exist and are influenced by things like individual physiology and the length of TRT.
In some people, ongoing TRT has the potential to permanently reduce natural testosterone production. This is why, before beginning TRT, it is essential to carefully weigh its necessity and any potential negative effects.
The risk of extended suppression of natural testosterone can be reduced by having a skilled healthcare professional check hormone levels during TRT. If TRT is stopped, they can also advise on how to encourage natural testosterone recovery.
It is not inevitable that TRT lasts forever. The length of treatment depends on each person's unique circumstances. However, TRT is often used as a long-term treatment for hypogonadism.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can last anywhere from a few weeks to many months, depending on the patient's unique medical needs, desired outcomes, and advice from their doctor. TRT is not always a commitment that lasts a lifetime, and there are various situations in which it may not last as long as expected.
TRT is frequently seen as a long-term, even lifetime, treatment for people with clinically diagnosed low testosterone levels (hypogonadism).
In a few cases, low testosterone levels may be brought on by secondary factors such as drug side effects, obesity, or other reversible disorders. TRT might only be temporary if the underlying reason can be found and effectively addressed, and testosterone levels might return to normal naturally when the problem has been cured.
People may decide to stop TRT for various personal reasons, such as worries about potential long-term side effects or a desire to look into alternative treatments.
TRT cycles can be expensive, ranging from $50 to $200 per month. Testosterone injections often cost $50 to $100 per month, depending on the recommended dosage. The frequency of testosterone administration can also affect costs. Weekly injections, for example, can be less expensive overall than more frequent injections.
The price of testosterone prescriptions might vary depending on whether they are purchased as generic or brand-name drugs, with generic versions frequently being less expensive.
The price of appointments, blood tests, and the drug itself may vary depending on the healthcare provider's practice area and geographic location. Your out-of-pocket costs may be considerably lower if you have health insurance that pays for TRT, with co-pays ranging from $10 to $50 for each prescription.
Our deep dive into TRT vs steroids has revealed some similarities and many differences. While anabolic steroids may produce short-term performance advantages, they frequently come with serious health hazards and the possibility of legal repercussions when overused. In contrast, TRT is a treatment under medical supervision meant to correct hormone imbalances and enhance general well-being. Combining it with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and other good habits will help you achieve your fitness and lifestyle objectives.
If you're considering TRT, your first step is to test yourself to see if you need it. We recommend using a reputable online TRT clinic for the expert guidance that you deserve. Check out our review of today's market's best online TRT clinics.
A new look at testosterone therapy. Harvard Health. (2016, May 10). https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/a-new-look-at-testosterone-therapy
Corona G, Torres LO, Maggi M. Testosterone Therapy: What We Have Learned From Trials. J Sex Med. 2020 Mar;17(3):447-460. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.11.270. Epub 2020 Jan 9. PMID: 31928918.
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