Steroids are anabolic androgenic products that include the endogenous testosterone hormone and the synthetic derivatives of testosterone and its precursors. To answer the question, what do steroids do exactly, one has to look at their mechanisms of action and their effects on the body as a result.
Steroids have an anabolic action which means that they have the ability to build up structures in the body as opposed to catabolism. All steroids, endogenous or exogenous increase the body’s synthesis of protein. Protein forms the structural substrate for most of the organs in the body. By doing this, there is increased rate of hypertrophy in muscles that have been subjected to a constant work load and intense physical exercises.
Another way by which anabolic steroids exert their anabolic effect is by increasing the production of erythropoietin in the kidneys. Erythropoietin which usually acts on the bone marrow leads to increased red blood cell synthesis. Since red blood cells are tasked with the responsibility of scavenging oxygen and carrying it to the various tissues, anabolic steroids lead to better oxygenation of muscles hence faster recovery and more strength.
Some steroids inhibit the sex hormone binding globulin, SHBG. This peptide usually gets rid of excess testosterone from the blood by binding to it and making it unavailable for its target tissues. By inhibiting this peptide, steroids are able to increase the levels of free steroids in the circulation including the endogenous testosterone.
The androgenic effects of steroids are mediated by their ability to attach to androgen receptors. By doing so, they increase energy levels in the body, they elevate mood and keep depression at bay, and they increase the sexual drive and generally increase the male sexual characteristics.
Understanding what anabolic androgenic steroids do has been made easier nowadays as information is free and widely shared on online platforms.