Anabolic steroids are a class of (prescription based) medications that contain a synthetically manufactured form of the hormone testosterone, or a related compound that is derived from this hormone. To fully understand how testosterone works we need to understand the functional structure of testosterone itself.
As you know Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. More specifically it is manufactured by the Leydig’s cells in the testicles at various amounts in a man’s life span. Effects of this hormone are most evident during the puberty stages of young teen boys, when the increase of testosterone output is most dramatic in psychological and physical changes in the body. Some of these characteristics include deepened voice, facial and body hair growth, increased oil output by the sebaceous glands (acne), sexual organ development, maturity of sperm production and libido. The male reproductive and testosterone have such effects that are considered the masculinizing or “androgenic” properties of the hormone.
Testosterone increases will cause an anabolic effect within the body, which include the increase of protein synthesis (Increase of muscle tissue accumulation). This is the reason why males carry more muscle and strength than women, as the two sexes have a vastly contrasting amounts of this hormone. Specifically speaking the adult male body will produce between 2.5 to 11 mg of testosterone per day, while females produce a mere fraction of ¼ mg of testosterone. The dominant form of hormone in females is estrogen, which for males is bad news since an increase of fat accumulation, increased bone weakening with age, and shorter stature in woman.
The mechanism in which testosterone elicits changes is somewhat complex. When free in the blood stream, the testosterone molecule is available to interact with various cells in the body. These include skeletal muscle cells, skin scalp, kidney, bone, central nervous system and the prostate tissues. Testosterone binds with a cellular target in order to exert its activity, and will therefore effect only those body cells that posses the proper hormone receptor site (Specifically the androgen receptor). Specific attachment of the receptor and hormone will cause a intracellular receptor site which is located in the cytosol, not the membrane surface forming a new “receptor complex”. The process of hormone and receptor link will migrate to the cells nucleus where it will attach to a DNA cells hormone response element. This activation simply put will cause an increase in synthesis which will cause two primary contractile proteins actin and myosin (muscular growth).
Once this process is completed the complex will be released and the receptor and hormone will unlink or disassociate. They migrate back to the cytosol for further occurrence in activity, and the testosterone is as well released to further interact with other cells. This whole cycle of production takes a good amount of time talking.