Anabolic steroids are manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of male hormones, and androstanolone is an anabolic steroid that specifically mimics dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that is produced naturally in the male body. Male hormones such as DHT, also called androgens, help stimulate and control the development of such male characteristics as facial hair and male reproductive organs. Androstanolone is used by doctors, for example, as a testosterone replacement therapy and to treat breast cancer. It was once a popular bodybuilding supplement, though its use for this non-medical purpose has diminished in North America and Europe and is illegal in many places. Like all anabolic steroids, this drug has several side-effects and can cause male pattern baldness as well as other problems.
Androstanolone is chemically identical to DHT. DHT is mainly formed in the testes, the hair follicles, the adrenal glands and the prostate gland and is produced when testosterone interacts with an enzyme in the body. In the womb, DHT stimulates the development of male characteristics of the male embryo and fetus. During puberty, it is involved in developing other male characteristics such as body and facial hair and the deepening of the voice. Later in life, the level of DHT is usually much lower, and its presence can cause problems. Elevated levels of DHT can cause an enlarged prostate gland, and there is also a link between high DHT levels and prostate cancer, though it has not been determined if DHT causes cancer.
Both the use of androstanolone and high levels of DHT also can cause male pattern hair loss, and there are several brands of so-called DHT blockers available, marketed as hair restoration remedies. In spite of anti-doping regulations and known side effects of anabolic steroids, some athletes still use androstanolone to build muscles faster, but this is becoming less common. Doctors prescribe androstanolone for various purposes, such as to treat hypogonadism, a condition that causes decreased sperm or testosterone production in the testes; it also is used to increase muscle-mass for patients suffering from HIV wasting syndrome. The drug is used to treat breast cancer as well because it helps reduce the growth of breast cancer cells.
Non-medical use of anabolic steroids such as androstanolone is illegal in many jurisdictions, and taking these drugs without a doctor's prescription is not advisable. Just like the hormones they are produced to mimic, anabolic steroids can affect the body in diverse and serious ways. Known side effects of androstanolone include acne and male hair loss, and it might also affect other organs, such as the prostate and testes.