As a non-aromatizing androgen, dihydrotestosterone is extremely potent. Aromatization refers to the conversion of testosterone or anabolic steroids into estrogen. High estrogenic activity causes bloating, acne, water retention and oily skin. As dihydrotestosterone does not aromatize even at high dosages, users do not face the aforementioned side-effects. Lack of water retention also has a hardening effect on muscle tissue, in bodybuilders. Being a powerful androgen, dihydrotestosterone is also responsible for a shift in the estrogen-testosterone ratio in the body. Due to its predominant androgenic component, the steroid has a stimulating effect on the adreno-pituitary functions, and causes neurological excitation in the ‘sexual orientation areas of the brain’. This in turn, spikes sex drive in males.
Anabolic steroids do have legitimate medical uses. They were first synthesized in the 1930s to treat underdeveloped testes and resulting testosterone deficiency. In the 1950s, they were used to treat anemia and muscle-wasting disorders and to bulk up patients whose muscles had atrophied from extended bed rest. In the 1960s, anabolic steroids were used to treat some forms of dwarfism. Today anabolic steroids are being studied for their ability to alleviate the extreme body wasting associated with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Their most common use, however, remains among athletes seeking a quick competitive edge.
The gains made by athletes in uncontrolled observations have been much more impressive. Weight gains of thirty or forty pounds, coupled with thirty percent increases in strength, are not unusual. Such case studies lack credibility because of the absence of scientific controls. However, it would be foolish to completely disregard such observations because the "subjects" have been highly trained and motivated see the articles on pharmacology of sport and sports medicine in the countries of the former Soviet Union for more information on anabolic steroids.