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Individuals who are especially physically active and/or bathe often may not be good candidates, since the medication can be washed off and may take up to six hours to be fully absorbed.

There is also the risk that an intimate partner or child may come in contact with the application site and inadvertently dose himself or herself; children and women are highly sensitive to testosterone and can suffer unintended masculinization and health effects, even from small doses.

The word anabolic, referring to anabolism, comes from the Greek ἀναβολή anabole, "that which is thrown up, mound." They are one of three types of sex hormone agonists, the others being estrogens like estradiol and progestogens like progesterone.

AAS were synthesized in the 1930s, and are now used therapeutically in medicine to stimulate muscle growth and appetite, induce male puberty and treat chronic wasting conditions, such as cancer and .

These effects include harmful changes in cholesterol levels (increased low-density lipoprotein and decreased high-density lipoprotein), acne, high blood pressure, liver damage (mainly with most oral AAS), and dangerous changes in the structure of the left ventricle of the heart.

Injectable steroids are typically administered into the muscle, not into the vein, to avoid sudden changes in the amount of the drug in the bloodstream.

In addition, because estered testosterone is dissolved in oil, intravenous injection has the potential to cause a dangerous embolism (clot) in the bloodstream.

Most of these side-effects are dose-dependent, the most common being elevated blood pressure, especially in those with pre-existing hypertension.

A number of severe side effects can occur if adolescents use AAS.

AAS have been used by men and women in many different kinds of professional sports to attain a competitive edge or to assist in recovery from injury.

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