Types of Steroid Hormones & Their Effects on Your Body

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key points about types of steroid hormonesSome of your body’s most important hormones are steroid hormones such as the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.

Steroid hormones sometimes get a bad reputation because of the way certain “anabolic steroids,” such as testosterone, are abused by bodybuilders and athletes. But the is nothing inherently wrong or bad about “steroid hormones.” Biologically speaking, the term “anabolic” simply means “to build muscle.” This means that hormones like testosterone are indeed “steroids” and do have “anabolic” properties. But, they are not “dangerous” and are, in fact, vital to strength, stamina, and endurance.

Testosterone therapy is also a safe, effective, and legitimate treatment for men suffering from low testosterone. Again, when they are prescribed for you by your doctor to treat low testosterone, a condition also known as “hypogonadism” or “andropause,” there’s is nothing wrong with taking steroids like testosterone. It is only when they are used illegally that there can be a problem with “steroids.”

Furthermore, hormone replacement therapy using the female “steroid” hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, has been the treatment of choice for menopausal symptoms for many decades. Hormone therapy using these “steroid” hormones is also safe and effective when used under proper medical supervision.

What Are Steroid Hormones?

steroid hormones are fat-soluble moleculesLike all hormones, steroid hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that control, regulate or stimulate specific biological processes through interaction with hormone receptors within the cells of their particular target organs or tissues.

Steroid hormones are fat-soluble molecules made primarily from cholesterol. Among the steroid hormones are the three major sex hormones: estrogens, androgens, and progesterones. The other two major steroid hormones are corticoids (cortisol) and mineralocorticoids (aldosterone).

Are Steroid Hormones the Same as Lipid Hormones?

Steroid hormones are also often referred to as lipid hormones as they are mainly derived from fats such as cholesterol and are “fat” or “lipid soluble.” Lipid soluble means that steroid hormones can dissolve in fats and can cross the cell membranes to react with specialized receptors within their target cells.

What Are the Five Major Classes of Steroid Hormones?

There are five major classes of steroid hormones. Testosterone (androgen), estradiol (estrogen), progesterone (progestin), cortisol/corticosterone (glucocorticoid), and aldosterone (mineralocorticoids). All of these steroid hormones are secreted by the major “steroid glands”– the adrenal cortex, testes, and ovaries – and in females during pregnancy by the placenta.

Androgens (testosterone) – Testosterone is the primary androgen or male hormone. Testosterone plays a role in strength, vitality, and sexual function. Age-related testosterone loss leads to andropause in males.

Testosterone Testes (testicles) Main “male” hormone. Development of male sexual characteristics, sex drive, and sexual performance. Vital to strength and energy.


Estrogens (estradiol) – Estrogen is not one particular hormone but refers to a group of hormones that play one of the most critical roles in female sexual maturity and female reproduction. Loss of estrogen as women stop having regular menstrual cycles causes menopause.

Estrogen Ovaries Primary “female” hormone. Development of female sexual characteristics and reproductive development, important for the functioning of the uterus and breasts; also protects bone health.


Progestins (progesterone) – Progesterone is a lipid or steroid hormone that is secreted by a specialized gland that the female body produces after ovulation during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Progesterone Ovaries Stimulates the lining of the uterus for fertilization; prepares the breasts for milk production.


Corticoids (cortisol) – It is the fat-soluble hormone most related to your body’s “fight or flight” response. Cortisol is a testosterone antagonist. The higher your cortisol level, the lower your testosterone, This is why chronic stress can lead to low testosterone.

cortisol adrenal glands Your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.


Mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) – Aldosterone, also known as ALD. It plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure.

aldosterone adrenal glands Primary role is the regulation of the level of salt and potassium in your blood, and therefore it plays a crucial role in helping to maintain healthy blood pressure. Since it deals with the regulation of electrolytes in the blood, also plays a role in kidney function and in maintaining proper blood volume and the pH level of the blood.


Why are Steroids Considered to Be “a bad thing”?

many people think that steroids are badWhen you hear the word “steroid,” you may think they are a bad thing or something that is bad for you. Nothing could be further from the truth. The steroid hormones are naturally produced by your body and are, in fact, some of your body’s most important hormones.

“Steroid” has negative connotations because of the way “anabolic steroids,” such as testosterone, are abused or used illegally by some athletes and bodybuilders. Or because of the dangers of overdose when using too much corticosteroids too often, or the problems of cross-contamination should women or children come in contact with testosterone gels or creams used by men on testosterone therapy.

Rest assured that when used properly as legally prescribed for you by a doctor, there is nothing “wrong” or “bad” about steroids. In fact, for those who need them, steroid hormone therapy has many positive benefits.

Are Steroid Hormones Helpful for Your Body?

Absolutely! As mentioned above, the steroid hormones are some of your body’s most important hormones regulating everything from strength, muscle growth, and vitality to sexuality and blood pressure. You literally could not live without your steroid hormones.


There can be a lot of misunderstanding about the health benefits of “steroid” hormones, mainly because of the confusion over the way the word “steroid” is used when anabolic hormones such as testosterone are abused by bodybuilders and athletes.

The truth is that steroid hormones, like all of your hormones, play a fundamental role in your overall health. Furthermore, steroid hormones, such as testosterone, influence some of your body’s most important functions relating to strength, vitality, mood, and sexual health.

However, many of the major classes of steroid hormones – particularly the sex hormones, testosterone, and estrogen – decline as you age. Age-related hormone loss leads to menopause in women and low testosterone or “andropause” in men. However, the good news is that hormone replacement therapy, particularly prescription testosterone therapy for men, is a safe and effective way to give you back what aging takes away!