The word ‘steroid’ is derived from Greek, where the prefix ‘ster’ is derived from the word ‘STERE’ which means a solid, and the suffix ‘oid’ is derived from the word ‘EIDOS’ and is commonly affixed in Greek as a suffix as ‘OIEDES’, which means a three dimensional form or shape. The end result in Greek is STEREOIEDES, simplified in modern English as the word steroids, or steroid.
There are many different types of steroids, the majority of which do not have anything what so ever to do with muscle growth, strength, or athletic performance. Many steroids, in fact, destroy and break down muscle tissue (these are known as corticosteroids). There exist hundreds of different types of steroids and steroidal compounds in nature, and they exist in plants, animals, insects, and even fungi. Naturally occurring steroids are synthesized in cells of the different aforementioned organisms. There exist many different types of steroids in the human body, such as: Cholesterol, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D), Estrogen, Testosterone, and Cortisol (among many others). Vitamin D in particular is what is known as a secosteroid, which is a steroidal molecule but contains a broken ring. In the human body, Cholesterol is the precursor to the development of all other steroids manufactured in the human body. This is to say that Cholesterol is the base steroidal compound that the body’s cells use to synthesize all other steroids (Estrogen, Testosterone, Vitamin D, etc.).
The types of steroids that we are concerned with in particular are known as anabolic steroids. These are also properly referred to also as anabolic androgenic steroids (often abbreviated as AAS). The word ‘anabolic’ refers to the process of tissue-building or tissue synthesis (in this case, muscle tissue) and is derived from the Greek words ‘ana’ which means “upward” and ‘ballein’ which means “to throw”. The word ‘androgenic’ refers to the masculinizing effects, and is derived from the Greek words ‘andro’ which means “male” or “masculine” and ‘genes’ which means “to produce”. The word ‘steroid’ refers to the steroid nature of the compound, as explained recently above. This is to mean that anabolic steroids are steroids that promote tissue building or tissue growth, and in this case it refers specifically to muscle tissue anabolism. Androgenic steroids refer to steroids that generate masculine features. There exist no anabolic steroids where the androgenic and anabolic effects are entirely separate from one another (they are intrinsically intertwined) and thus anabolic steroids are referred to in full as androgenic anabolic steroids (or anabolic androgenic steroids).
The number one primary anabolic steroid manufactured in every human body and in most animal species is the hormone Testosterone. It is the male sex hormone that provides the male gender with the commonly known male traits (deepening of the voice, development of bodily and facial hair, and increases in muscle size and strength). Testosterone is responsible for governing the maintenance and control of many different functions in the human body, and muscle growth is but only one of many of these functions it is responsible for governing. There exist two other naturally endogenously produced anabolic steroids in humans: Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and Nandrolone. These are the three naturally manufactured anabolic steroids by which all other anabolic steroids are derived from and based upon.
There exist hundreds of different anabolic steroids that have been synthesized and created, all of which are based on and derived from one of the three aforementioned anabolic steroid hormones (Testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone, and Nandrolone). This is to say that all anabolic steroids in existence are modified forms of Testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone, or Nandrolone. These modified variants of these hormones are what are known as anabolic steroid analogues or derivatives. That is to say that if an anabolic steroid is an analogue or derivative of Testosterone, it is simply Testosterone with a modification to its molecular chemical structure. The following is an example of the difference between the structure of Testosterone and the structure of a known analogue of Testosterone, Methandrostenolone (Dianabol):
This essentially categorizes all anabolic steroids as one of the following types of steroids:
1. Testosterone analogues (or Testosterone derivatives)
3. Nandrolone analogues (or Nandrolone derivatives)
These are the three types of steroids. These three anabolic steroids could be referred to as ‘progenitor hormones’ or ‘parent hormones’, as they are what the various anabolic steroids are derived from. Technically, Testosterone is quite literally the original and primary anabolic steroid by which every single anabolic steroid is derived from. Within the human body, Testosterone is the precursor hormone to Dihydrotestosterone and Nandrolone. Without Testosterone, these two other anabolic steroids would not even exist within the human body. Testosterone is metabolized into Dihydrotestosterone in the body by way of the 5-alpha reductase (5AR) enzyme (meaning Dihydrotestosterone is a metabolite of Testosterone), and furthermore, Nandrolone is a byproduct of the aromatization (conversion) of Testosterone into Estrogen. Without Testosterone, Nandrolone and DHT would not even exist, which further explains that without the existence of DHT and Nandrolone, none of their analogues and derivatives would exist.
Furthermore, the development of an anabolic steroid derivative will often frequently take on the same properties and characteristics of its parent hormone (or progenitor hormone). For example, a characteristic of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is its inability to convert into Estrogen because it is unable to interact with the aromatase enzyme. As a result, DHT derivatives all share this same characteristic trait, passed down from the parent/progenitor hormone DHT. One additional important point to understand under the concept of analogues and their progenitor hormones is the following: upon modifying the chemical structure of a progenitor hormone to create a different anabolic steroid with different properties and attributes, the result is a compound that is, by many accounts, supposed to exhibit properties that are shared with its progenitor hormone (as evidenced by the example outlined above in regards to DHT derivatives). However, that is in theory. In practice what may occur is the opposite, or a differing effect. This is because it must be understood that once an anabolic steroid is modified (DHT, for example) to create a brand new type of steroid analogue, the resulting analogue is actually considered now a totally different hormone with unique properties and it may or may not share characteristics with its parent/progenitor hormone. But we still properly refer to them, for example, as DHT or DHT derivatives (or Testosterone derivatives, Nandrolone derivatives, and so on and so forth).
Testosterone is the number one naturally endogenously manufactured anabolic steroid by the human body, and it is the root anabolic steroid for the synthesis of all other anabolic steroids in existence.