If you’re an avid workout fanatic, chances are you’ve heard of steroids – you may even be using them yourself! If you’ve heard of steroids, there’s a good chance you’ve also heard of prohormones. Sometimes the two words are used interchangeably. That doesn’t mean that they’re actually the same thing, though – prohormones and steroids may produce similar results, but they’re very different compounds.
Both compounds are used by bodybuilders and workout fanatics because they can accentuate the progress you make in regards to muscle growth. However, the way they go about doing this is very different, and prohormones are generally considered to be a much safer alternative to steroids.
What is a steroid?
To get technical, a steroid is a compound that has two main functions. They don’t necessarily have to be used to improve your muscle mass.
- Steroids play important roles in the health of your cells. Some of them affect their permeability, which allows more or less fluid in or out of a cell. That makes them super-important for almost every biological function in your body!
- They act as the signals for the steroid hormone receptors all over our body. This is how they can make us more “manly” – they can trigger testosterone to release.
There are many different kinds of steroids, though a common train of thought is just that “steroids are steroids.” That’s definitely not true. There are tons of steroids with tons of functions. The ones we’re concerned about are anabolic steroids. These are the ones that affect our muscle and are also known as androgens.
- Anabolic steroids can affect the amount of protein let in and out of cells.
- They have many androgenic (masculine) qualities, which is why they can make you hairy.
Anabolic steroids also carry a risk of some fairly serious side effects that can manifest if you’re not careful about the way that you use them. You should only get steroids prescribed from a doctor, and it’s important that you follow the instructions that they give you along with the steroids.
Anabolic steroids are considered Schedule III drugs in the States and are illegal without a prescription. Despite that, many people continue to source them from online retailers. This creates a whole new series of risks and dangers because you can’t be sure that your product was tested properly or if it even contains the ingredients that it says it does.
Common anabolic steroids include:
Injectable steroids: testosterone, trenbolone, nandrolone, equipoise, and primobolan.
Oral steroids: D-Bol, Anadrol 50, Anavar, Winstrol, Superdrol, Epistane, and Halodrol
What is a prohormone?
A prohormone is a substance that the body converts into a hormone. They are also sometimes known as steroidal supplements, which can add to the confusion, because they aren’t actually steroids themselves. Nor are they hormones on their own – the body must convert them into hormones. This can improve the bioavailability (the amount that the body can absorb and use) of hormones that can’t be taken orally or don’t respond well to injection.
Prohormones allow you to directly decide which hormones you want to affect. For example, if you want to see more androgenic features – these are caused by testosterone – then you could consume a prohormone for testosterone so your body would react as if it were producing this much.
This is very different from actually consuming testosterone, which itself is a steroid. Testosterone is also the hormone that’s responsible for muscle growth and repair, which is why prohormones for testosterone are so popular.
Prohormones are preferred by those who don’t like the idea of taking highly synthetic steroids. While they may be synthetically extracted, they just give the body the right building blocks to produce its own hormones. Consuming a prohormone allows your body to regulate the amount that is converted into actual hormones, so you don’t end up going into hormonal overdrive or, as it is often known, “roid rage.”
Common prohormones include 1-andro, 4-andro, EpiAndrosterone, 1,4-Andro, 1,4-OHP, 5aOHP, and 5-andro.
So which are safer?
Steroids are generally considered to be more dangerous than prohormones. They can both cause some significant side effects, but steroids are more likely to cause serious problems. Some steroids cause more side effects than others.
- Nandrolone, the injectable steroid, is extremely dangerous because of the huge risk it poses for your heart.
- Oral steroids all pose a huge risk of damage to your liver.
- Anadrol 50 and Superdrol pose significant risk of losing hair.
- Superdrol also causes serious damage to the prostate and the heart.
While these steroids pose particularly dangerous risks, any of these steroids, if taken orally, will carry some risk of hair loss, heart and liver damage, and prostate pain.
Prohormones, on the other hand, have a much less significant profile of side effects. Not all of them are completely safe, though – in fact, many of them can still cause similar problems to steroids due to the way that they cause the overstimulation of certain hormones.
- EpiAndrosterone in particular is known for having a high chance of causing hair loss or pain in the prostate.
- 5-Andro has a reasonable chance of causing an estrogen imbalance, which could result in the growth of breasts or extreme mood swings.
However, when compared to the list of anabolic steroids, prohormones have a much lower chance of causing side effects. Some of them are relatively harmless.
- 1-Andro and 4-Andro carry only minimal risks of causing hair loss, impotence, heart damage, or discomfort of the prostate.
- 1,4-Andro brings only a very slight risk of causing an estrogen imbalance and related symptoms.
- 1,4OHP and 5aOHP have no reported side effects, and while they aren’t as potent as other prohormones or steroids, they can be used over time without causing problems.
One of the reasons that prohormones are safer is because your body has mechanisms to prevent it from producing too many hormones. If you consume steroids, they will directly affect the hormonal receptor sites regardless of how many you consume. There is no mechanism to tell the receptors to stop responding to direct stimulation.
If you eat too many prohormones, your body will attempt to regulate production and limit the total amount of hormones. This is why it’s generally considered safer to use prohormones instead of steroids.