Steroids have long been useful in a wide range of ways. But when they were first identified in 1935, they were primarily useful to patients suffering from Addison disease. Today, the use of steroids has extended to the treatment of anti-inflammatory and autoimmune illnesses. But over the years, side effects of steroid use have also become common and they range from minor cases of acne to Cushing syndrome, condition that can lead to the development of Diabetes Mellitus and life-threatening heart disease in rare cases.
What Are Steroids?
The term steroid applies to a wide range of molecules designed to have varying physiological effects. Corticosteroids refer to a class of chemicals that are both laboratory made and natural produced hormones. There are two types of steroids each of which have different indications. Glucocorticoids are useful in the regulation of metabolism and inflammation while mineralocorticoids are responsible for the regulation of water and sodium levels. 
Steroids will often fall along a spectrum from those that are exclusively Glucocorticoids and those that are mineralocorticoids. They are also often ranked according to their effectiveness in a given treatment. This means that although a certain steroid may have anti-inflammatory properties, therefore making it a Glucocorticoid and also have mineralocorticoid properties. The combination can be effective in the treatment of any inflammation illness but can also adversely affect blood pressure.
This type of contraindication is the reason why the only reference you may have on steroids is when talking about the side effects. It is true that steroids can have serious health side effects although the side effects are specifically related to your gender and age. Some of the side effects in men who use anabolic steroids include the development of breasts, painful erections, shrinking testicles, decreased or decreasing sperm count, infertility and impotence. 
Women who take anabolic steroids may experience excessive hair growth on the face and body, deepening of the voice, menstrual irregularities, enlarged clitoris, reduced breast size and may have a masculinized female fetus if they get pregnant. There are some side effects that are common in both men and women, including acne, oily scalp and skin, yellowing of the skin, baldness, tendon rapture, increased risk of heart attacks, significant increase if liver disease and liver cancer, mood swings and delusions.
What Are Online Steroid Pharmacies?
As the name suggest online steroid pharmacies are online stores that primarily sell anabolic steroids. Over the years, the number of these online pharmacies has grown as more and more people have taken to the recreational use of anabolic steroids. Like we mentioned before, steroids can be highly effective in the treatment of several illness, but also that the recreational use of anabolic steroids can have life threatening side effects.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse has identified the internet and these steroid online pharmacies as the primary source of steroids without a valid prescription. Before online pharmacies began selling anabolic steroids, they were smuggled into the country from Europe and Mexico and sold in clandestine ways from person to person, much like illegal drugs. In a study conducted in 2005, the National Institute of Drug Abuse  and the Government Accountability Office found that more than 45% of all illegal steroids were purchased online and shipped without a prescription and that number has been increasing every year.
Why You Should be Careful when Choosing an Online Pharmacy for Steroids
One of the main concerns of anabolic steroids sold on online pharmacies is the quality. These drugs have been known to contain chemicals that will do nothing to produce the desired effect while at the same time posing a serious health risk. They may also contain chemicals that may make them highly addictive. It is also worth noting that these online pharmacies will sell steroids without a prescription, making it very easy for those who want to use the drugs for recreational purposes to buy them.
The following are just some tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of buying anabolic steroids from illegitimate online pharmacies:
- Check the ratings and reviews of any online pharmacy before deciding to purchase steroids from them.
- Ensure that you have a prescription for the anabolic steroids from your doctor and be very wary of online pharmacies that sell anabolic steroids without a requiring a prescription.
- Ensure that the online pharmacy you want to purchase medication from is in the United States and legally mandated to practice in the United States.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the unregulated and unsupervised use of anabolic steroids can lead to serious side effects, some of which we have seen above. It is therefore a good idea to avoid using anabolic steroids unless you have a prescription from your doctor.