Steroid hormones are a complex concept. These include estrogens, androgens (sex hormones, which are produced by sex organs), and corticosteroids, produced exclusively in the adrenal cortex. They are divided into glucocorticoid hormones (cortisone, corticosterone, cortisol, etc.) and mineralocorticoid hormones (aldosterone, deoxycorticosterone).
All steroids are of great importance in medicine, as well as veterinary medicine. Corticosteroids are used as anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, immunosuppressive medical remedies. Anabolic steroids are used for medically indicated conditions, for example, testosterone insufficiency. Some natural steroids, such as phytoestrogens, are used as herbal remedies for some female conditions. This is only a small part of the huge spectrum of effects of steroids on the human body. It also should be noted that steroids are used to synthesize certain pharmaceutical medications, such as squalene (wound healing agent).
Medical use of corticosteroids
When administered in dosages bigger than the quantity your organism normally synthesizes, corticosteroids decrease redness & swelling (inflammatory processes). This may help treat some inflammatory ailments such as asthma & eczema. Corticosteroids also decrease the activity of the immunity, the organism’s natural defense against illnesses and infections. This may help treat autoimmune ailments, for instance, rheumatoid arthritis.
So these steroids are used for:
- asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
- hay fever;
- hives & eczema;
- painful joints;
- lupus, and other ailments.
Medical use of mineralocorticoids
The main endogenous mineralocorticoids are aldosterone and deoxycorticosterone. These hormones actively affect the exchange of electrolytes and water. Also, they influence carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Previously, deoxycortone medicaments, namely Deoxycorticosterone acetate and Deoxycorticosterone Trimethylacetate, were widely used in clinical practice. They were used for deteriorations of adrenal function (hypocorticism), especially for Addison’s disease, as well as for myasthenia gravis. Currently, fludrocortisone is widely used as a drug with a high mineralocorticoid activity, comparable to the activity of aldosterone. This drug replenishes the deficiency of hormones in case of adrenal insufficiency. It increases the glucose level in the blood and promotes the redistribution of adipose tissue. In addition, the drug has a catabolic effect, as well as increases the excretion of potassium and calcium from the body.
Medical use of female steroid hormones
Estrogens, which are synthesized in the ovaries, are responsible for fetal nurturing and normal birth, and also regulate the menstrual cycle of a woman. In addition, these substances give female sex silhouettes to females, proportionally distributing fat cells in the buttocks and thighs. The work of the sebaceous glands, the timely moisturizing of the skin and even the exchange of calcium also depend on the normal production of estrogens. For example, the preparation Progynova contains estrogen – estradiol valerate, which transforms into natural 17β-estradiol inside the human body. During treatment with Progynova, ovulation isn’t inhibited, and the “manufacturing” of hormones in the body is practically unchanged.
Estradiol replenishes the estrogen deficit in the female organism after the onset of menopause and provides effective therapy of emotional and vegetative climacteric signs (for example, hot flashes, increased sweating, sleep disorders, increased nervousness, irritability, abnormalities of the heartbeat, heartburn, dizziness, head pain, lowered sex drive, muscle & joint pain). Also, the drug prevents the deterioration of the skin and mucous membranes, especially the mucous membranes of the urogenital system (involuntary leakage of urine, dryness & irritation of the vaginal mucosa, tenderness during intercourse).
Hormone replacement therapy with an adequate dosage of estrogen decreases bone resorption and delays or stops bone loss in postmenopausal female persons. It has been shown that prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy cuts the risk of fractures of peripheral bones in females after menopause.
Medical use of anabolic steroids
For some reason, there was an opinion that the main field of anabolic steroid used in sports, and in medicine these drugs have a very limited field of application. In fact, this is not so (although steroids in sports are very popular, just look at Anavar).
Esters of testosterone and Nandrolone are prescribed for delays in sexual development in boys, breast and ovarian cancers, as well as menopausal disorders in women. The same drugs plus methandrostenolone are prescribed to patients with a significant loss of muscle mass. It is these areas of application of anabolic steroids that specialists refer to when they talk about the limited use of these drugs in medical practice. But in fact, anabolic steroids are more widely used in medicine at the present time. For a long time, there have been conducted studies aimed at finding a pharmacological contraceptive for men that would be effective enough and not having such a bouquet of negative side effects that have female contraceptives. In the 80s of the last century, it was suggested to use testosterone injections of enanthate for this purpose. With regard to the safety of such injections, the degree determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990: “Weekly injections of testosterone enanthate (200 mg) can maintain safe, stable, effective and reversible infertility during at least 12 months”. However, the effectiveness of these drugs is just 80%.
It should be noted that there are many natural analogues of anabolic and other hormones on the market. For example, manufacturers of sports nutrition offer such products as best HGH supplements, testosterone boosters, and the like.