Steroids and testosterone are two words that are commonly associated with the successful sculpting of the male physique. These components belong to two different composition spectrums but are quite effective in accelerating and supporting development and growth, among other things. Although their uses check the same boxes, steroids and testosterone have differences. 

Let's find out more about these differences below:

What are Steroids?

Steroids, also known as synthetic hormones, are artificial replicas of natural steroid hormones in the body. There are several different classes of steroids, each with its own function. Steroid hormones play an important role in: 

  • sexual differentiation,
  • reproduction,
  • growth,
  • development.

So, the synthetic versions, of course, take on the same function to provide users with multiple benefits. Their potent nature and widespread effect on the body allow them to be used for both aesthetic and medical reasons. Steroids are available in several forms that can be invasive or non-invasive to suit different circumstances. 

Yes, Testosterone is a Natural Anabolic Steroid 

Testosterone is a naturally occurring anabolic steroid produced in the male testes. It has two primary effects on the body:

  1. Anabolic effects supporting muscle building and 
  2. Androgenic effects that impact developing male traits, such as facial hair, deeper voice, etc. 

According to studies, the body uses testosterone during the day and replenishes it at night. However, the production of the hormone can be disrupted by illness, disease, and even aging, which results in a deficit. This can significantly affect several body functions, so external intervention such as synthetic or natural steroids is needed.

Synthetic Vs. Natural Steroids 

Synthetic treatment options are 100% artificial and do not contain any natural components, while natural steroids are derived from nature and contain no synthetic components.

Both natural and synthetic steroids aim to enhance testosterone levels. However, they use different approaches.

Synthetic options introduce pharmaceutically created compounds into the body that mimic the function of hormones like testosterone to increase its levels, while natural options increase natural testosterone production to get levels to their peak. 

Natural steroid boosters are typically non-invasive and have a low side effect rate paired with high tolerability, efficacy, and safety profile. On the other hand, synthetic options can be either invasive or non-invasive, bringing in some flexibility. Its effects are potent and rapid. However, it introduces insanely high amounts of testosterone into the body, which means safety is compromised—there’s a high possibility of side effects. This limits their use to certain user groups and isn’t lightly prescribed by doctors.

Risks of Using Testosterone Boosters 

Testosterone boosters are essentially natural, non-invasive solutions to low testosterone. Although there are several studies supporting the safety and efficacy of several testosterone-boosting ingredients, there are still potential risks involved in using them.  

The potential side effects of using testosterone-boosting supplements include:

  • Testicular atrophy;
  • Increased aggression;
  • Prostate enlargement;
  • Male breast enlargement.

Other more serious risks include:

  • Liver damage;
  • Hypertension;
  • Enlarged prostate;
  • Elevated PSA levels;
  • Higher red blood cell count.

These risks usually present themselves when dosage and usage guidelines are disregarded or the testosterone booster is used in cases where it is prohibited or unnecessary. 

Risk of Using Synthetic Steroids 

Synthetic steroid use generally has a high-risk profile because they are frequently misused. The side effects linked to their use range from mild to life-threatening. Their presence can be permanent, semi-permanent, or fleeting and disappear after use is discontinued.

Studies show that the following risks are associated with synthetic steroid use:

Common risks:

  • Oily scalp and skin;
  • Severe acne and cysts;
  • Male-pattern baldness;
  • Shrinking of the testicles;
  • Abscess at the injection site;
More serious risks:
  • Jaundice, peliosis hepatis;
  • Tumors, or testicular cancer;
  • Heart attacks or artery damage;
  • Cardiovascular system or stroke;
  • Blood clots or high blood pressure;
  • Short stature (if taken by adolescents).

It's important to acknowledge and understand these possible risks as serious and life-threatening effects may only occur years later.

Synthetic Steroids Vs. TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) 

Synthetic steroids and testosterone replacement therapy seem like they are quite similar, if not the same, but they are not. TRT is an FDA-approved treatment for testosterone deficiency. It directly delivers synthetic testosterone to the body through injections, medical patches, or tablets.

Although it's quite effective in treating low testosterone levels, the approach it uses does not agree with all users, especially those with prostate cancer, blood-clotting problems, or severe cardiovascular disease. 

Steroids work by mimicking the function of naturally occurring hormones to achieve a specific purpose. 

It can help with everything from muscle building, inflammation control, immune system optimization, and more. It is slightly effective in alleviating symptoms of low testosterone but is best for athletic performance enhancement, muscle building, and recovery. TRT is managed by a medical professional, while steroids are a more DIY solution that can be administered and monitored by the user. 

The effects of each vary depending on the condition or purpose they are being used for, but steroids have more potent clout, producing noticeable effects faster. However, TRT is the better long-term solution as it carries a better safety profile than steroids. 

Positive and Negative Effects of Testosterone 

As we mentioned earlier, testosterone is a naturally occurring sex hormone in charge of various body processes. Its widespread role in the body means its absence is greatly felt both mentally and physically. This is one of the reasons professionals emphasize increasing and maintaining testosterone levels. But like all hormones in the body, there are two sides to their presence: positive and negative.

Below we look at the positive and negative effects of testosterone on the body: 



  • Excessive body hair growth;
  • Serious changes in sexual function
  • Constant pain in the chest or trouble breathing;
  • Blood pressure changes—hyper or hypotension;
  • Serious skin issues such as increased acne and oily skin;
  • Mood changes—highly aggressive and irritable behavior;
  • Acceleration of sleep conditions such as insomnia or sleep apnea that are already present.

Testosterone decline often starts to rear its head shortly after men pass the age of 30-35. It is important for them to first identify their testosterone needs before getting aid to either maintain optimal testosterone levels or increase them. This can be the defining factor between receiving the positive or negative effects of the hormone.


After looking at all the facts and research, we found several differences between testosterone and steroids. Testosterone is a natural hormone created by the body, while steroids are chemically made compounds that mimic testosterone's function. While this is great for the placards of scientific advancements, improper use and dosage of steroids can cause more harm than good. 

Steroids produce rapid results but at the expense of safety, while testosterone boosters produce gradual results, supporting the body through change. In our opinion, the difference between the two draws a definitive line to which types of patients or conditions will benefit from their use.


Can you take steroids while taking testosterone?

The use of steroids and testosterone or testosterone-based treatments together are highly discouraged as this can cause adverse effects such as water retention and swelling that can negatively affect your health. 

Will testosterone levels return to normal after steroid use?

Steroid use often sets testosterone levels on a rampage, leaving them at steep peaks in short time frames. It can take the body up to 4 months to restore natural testosterone levels after discontinuing steroids.

Does steroid use have telltale signs?

Unlike natural testosterone boosters or TRT, which have no telltale signs linked to use, steroids do. These signs can be noticed shortly after use has commenced. Some common signs are excessive or sudden acne, rapid muscle or weight gain, paranoia, and hyperactivity. 

What are natural steroids?

Natural steroids are compounds such as herbs, plants, and other natural sources that copy the function of naturally occurring human hormones or steroids. The most common examples of natural steroids are testosterone booster supplements, which contain natural ingredients that can influence production of the hormone.

What are the safest alternatives to steroids?

The safest alternatives to steroids are testosterone boosters with beneficial ingredients that can help promote testosterone levels while reversing the symptoms of low testosterone, such as decreased muscle mass, libidos, and energy. Supplements that contain Creatine, DAA (D-aspartic acid), Zinc, Fenugreek, B complex vitamins, or Magnesium are excellent alternatives.

About the Author Tim Rockwell

Tim Rockwell is a highly skilled and knowledgeable fitness expert. With a background in exercise science and years of experience in the fitness industry, Tim is passionate about sharing his expertise with others through his writing. He currently contributes articles to Eurasc, where he shares practical tips and strategies for leading a healthy, active lifestyle.

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