Taking steroid hormones provides many advantages. Available as medications and supplements, these substances have positive effects on physical and mental health. They can, for example, help people control their body weight. Typically used to facilitate weight gain, steroids often increase lean mass and decrease body fat. Hormone supplements can remain effective and safe during extended use. Such treatments, however, may cause unwanted side effects. Thus, patients should meet with their doctor before using steroids.
The anabolic steroid testosterone remains essential for tissue construction and repair across the life span in both men and women. Professional and recreational athletes take exogenous testosterone to increase muscle strength and size. Yet, such gains usually occur in conjunction with losses in body fat. A report by S. Permpongkosol and co-workers presented in the November 2010 issue of "Journal of Sexual Medicine" assessed the impact of testosterone intake in men with testosterone deficiency. Results indicated that weekly injections of the hormone decreased waist size and body fat within a year. Supplement use also improved the men's sexual performance. The treatment was considered safe, as no malignancies were observed during biopsies.
More feminine hormones like progesterone also affect body weight. An experiment by J. M. Foidart and T. Faustmann described in the December 2007 edition of "Gynecological Endocrinology" looked at the effect of adding progesterone to standard protocols for hormone replacement therapy. This study tested older women experiencing negative side effects from menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. They received nightly doses of either natural estrogen or natural estrogen combined with synthetic progesterone. The data showed that women given the combined treatment lost weight relative to those given only the estrogen. These effects appeared within six months and persisted until the end of the year-long trial. Adverse events appeared only rarely in each of the two treatment conditions.
The sex steroid estrogen can also contribute to weight loss under the right conditions. A paper by S. Lara and colleagues published in the May 2010 issue of "European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology" assessed the interaction of physical exercise and steroid intake in postmenopausal women. Older females with estrogen deficiency received estrogen supplements daily for four months. Their activity levels, also recorded during this time, were scored as either high or low. Results indicated that estrogen use decreased the waist circumference and the waist-to-hip ratio of all women tested. The hormone also reduced body fat, but only in the more active women. Few subjects reported negative reactions, and none experienced major side effects.
- "Journal of Sexual Medicine"; Treatment of 161 Men with Symptomatic Late Onset Hypogonadism with Long-Acting Parenteral Testosterone Undecanoate: Effects on Body Composition, Lipids, and Psychosexual Complaints; S. Permpongkosol et al.; November 2010
- "Gynecological Endocrinology"; Advances in Hormone Replacement Therapy: Weight Benefits of Drospirenone, A 17alpha-Spirolactone-Derived Progestogen; J. M. Foidart & T. Faustmann; December 2007
- "European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology"; Influence of Habitual Physical Activity on Body Composition, Fat Distribution and Metabolic Variables in Early Postmenopausal Women Receiving Hormonal Therapy; S. Lara et al.; May 2010