There are some similarities between steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH, but the truth is there are far more differences between the two. Is HGH a steroid, and if so, what are the benefits?
Here, you’ll learn more about the similarities and differences so you can make choices that are right for your unique goals.
What Is a Steroid?
Steroids, also referred to as anabolic steroids or anabolic androgenic steroids, are anti-inflammatory compounds that were originally designed to mimic the effects of high testosterone levels.
They can help maintain or build muscle mass, they can raise red blood cell counts, and they can even help people who have certain health conditions gain weight.
Sometimes, they may be used to treat asthma, joint problems, and bone density issues. Steroids bind with free androgen receptors in the body, and these receptors, called cytoplasmic receptors, carry the compounds all throughout the body.
Is Human Growth Hormone a Steroid?
Human growth hormone, or HGH, is a hormone that your pituitary gland produces naturally. It’s responsible for growth in infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. HGH stimulates the growth of different types of bodily tissues, including not only the muscles, but also the organs and bones.
Though athletes, bodybuilders, and those who are concerned about their health and fitness will often use HGH to boost muscle growth, the answer to the question “Are growth hormones steroids?” is a resounding no. The differences lie in the way the substances affect the body.
Comparing Steroid and Human Growth Hormone Side Effects
Another way to answer the question, “Is HGH a steroid?” is to compare the side effects of HGH to those of steroids. Though each anabolic steroid has its own unique set of side effects, there are some that nearly all steroids share. These include things like:
- Reductions in sperm count;
- Suppressed testosterone production;
- Increased estrogen levels, resulting in fatigue, mood changes, and gynecomastia;
- Oily skin and acne;
- Libido changes; and
- Liver damage, which is more prevalent in oral steroids.
In women, steroids can cause symptoms of virilization, which is a term used to refer to the development of predominantly male physical characteristics. The symptoms of virilization include a deeper voice, increased growth of body hair, breast size reduction, menstrual cycle changes, and even clitoral enlargement – all of which can become permanent over time.
While steroids can certainly cause all these effects to varying degrees, those who use them responsibly can mitigate or even negate them. The same can be said for HGH, which carries its own risk of side effects. Some of them include:
- Rapid weight gain (not necessarily muscle);
- Pain, itching, and/or redness at the injection site;
- Painful joints;
- Liver damage; and
- Acromegaly, or a condition in which the organs and limbs grow abnormally.
Again, many of the HGH side effects can be avoided with responsible use, which includes careful dosing and shortened cycle lengths.
With this information, is HGH a steroid? The answer is no. While the two do share some similar side effects, they act on the body in different ways.
Comparing the Reasons for HGH Use
It is also possible to look at the reasons why people use HGH and compare them to the reasons for using steroids. For example, people use HGH to look and feel younger, to improve their metabolism, and to help facilitate lean muscle gains. In some cases, individuals may use HGH in an attempt to lose weight without sacrificing precious muscle tissue or to improve their overall strength and stamina.
The uses for steroids are a bit different. Anabolic steroids are common in athletic circles for gaining muscle mass, retaining muscle tissue during cutting cycles, and improving strength, but they are far more powerful than HGH and therefore highly coveted. While steroids greatly improve the body’s anabolic state while inhibiting catabolism, HGH simply promotes growth and cellular regeneration.
The chart below serves as a point of reference when comparing the different uses for human growth hormone and steroids.
Using Steroids and HGH for Medical Purposes
Most of the anabolic steroids on the market today were originally designed to treat medical conditions. For example, patients with disorders that cause loss of appetite and muscle wasting would eventually develop malnutrition and serious fatigue.
Anabolic steroids like Winstrol, for example, helped patients regain their appetites. They also worked to help them maintain and even gain muscle tissue. As mentioned, anabolic steroids also improve red blood cell counts, which can be beneficial in a variety of medical situations.
HGH, on the other hand, is a hormone that promotes cellular regeneration. For this reason, it is used by some doctors and clinics in very high doses to help patients heal from certain injuries, including traumatic burns.
Some studies have indicated that HGH supplements speeds the rate at which the body creates new cells to replace damaged ones. A study published in the Cochrane Library showed that Human growth hormone could help patients with burns covering 40% or more of their bodies heal much faster.
While HGH is quite popular, and not just among athletes, it’s also difficult to obtain without a prescription from a doctor. To get a prescription, you need to demonstrate medical need for HGH.
In adults, this is difficult to do, and only people who have very rare disorders receive prescriptions. Children who are falling behind on growth charts may receive low-dose HGH for a time to help spur normal growth, as well.
If you do not have a medical condition that requires treatment with HGH, you can usually find HGH for sale in other places. For example, some online pharmacies will ship human growth hormone to you without a prescription, though this is risky since counterfeit performance enhancers are commonplace.
Sometimes it’s possible to buy HGH in gyms or from street vendors who manufacture high doses in underground labs, but this also carries some risk since the manufacturing process is not regulated in any way. There may also be legal repercussions for purchasing or using HGH without a prescription.
For some people, especially athletes, steroids are of great help because it can increase their muscle mass. As a result, they abuse the drug to enhance their performance in sports and the way they look as well. However, utilizing steroids this way is unlawful and can pose risks to the body.
The HGH benefits are many, and this leads many people to abuse the compound. They believe if they use more, they’ll experience better results, but this is not at all the case. In fact, this is another similarity between HGH and anabolic steroids – both can cause severe side effects when used in high doses or for long periods of time. Per Dr. Alan Rogol, a representative of
The Endocrine Society, HGH can weaken the muscles and cause heart disease when abused. He also notes that the bioavailability of oral HGH is too low for it to be effective, so those purchasing so-called HGH pills online are likely throwing their money away. Finally, per the FDA, excessive use can lead to a variety of cancers. This is why the use of exogenous HGH is so heavily regulated.
Common Doses for HGH are as Follows:
- Antiaging and Overall Wellness – 1IU to 3IU daily
- Performance Enhancement – 4IU to 6IU daily
- Bodybuilding (Mass Gain) – 6IU to 8IU daily
- Post-Injury Healing (Medical Settings) – 8IU to 16IU daily
If you are concerned about HGH abuse, bear in mind that the largest recommended dose is 10IU per day, and at this high a dose, it’s important to keep your cycles short – up to four weeks, at the most.
Though doctors prescribe human growth hormone doses of up to 16IU per day, you should never use doses this high unless under the care of a physician. Using more than 10IU per day, or using HGH for far longer than is recommended, may be a sign of abuse.
Is HGH a Steroid or Hormone?
With all the above in mind, it becomes very clear that HGH is not a steroid – it is a hormone. When compared to anabolic steroids, HGH is widely viewed as safer, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Both compounds have their own unique benefits, which makes them desirable by different groups of people for different reasons. What’s more, while both can cause some significant side effects, those who use HGH or steroids responsibly often find that mitigation is easy.
HGH and steroids also have the same potential for abuse. The benefits they provide are highly coveted, especially in today’s society that places such importance upon physical prowess, beauty, and youth.
Unfortunately, those who believe using more will make them look or feel better – or change the way people perceive them – are those who often pay the biggest price.
Is HGH a steroid? No. Today’s HGH for sale is very different from anabolic steroids for all the reasons shown above. Though they are capable of producing some of the same HGH benefits, they do so to varying degrees and in very different ways.
The side effects associated with steroids and human growth hormone are also very different, but they are equally dangerous when abused. However, when used responsibly, both steroids and HGH are safe and effective for their intended purposes.