What an anabolic androgenic steroid is can be best understood taking the words separately. Anabolic or anabolism refers to that metabolic process in living organisms and cells - such as inside our body - that helps in synthesizing or bringing together smaller molecules to build larger ones. As against catabolism, that does the opposite, anabolism tends to coalesce complex molecules, letting them grow as a whole.
Androgenic stands for that property of a natural or synthetic chemical compound in vertebrates (for example, human beings) that stimulates or controls development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. More commonly, androgen is indicative of developing male sexuality, though testosterone, a well-known androgen, secretes in both the testes of males and the ovaries of females.
Steroid, occurring as it does from sterol like cholesterol, a naturally happening steroid alcohol, is a group of organic compounds including many types of hormones, alkaloids and vitamins.
What follows therefore is that anabolic androgenic steroid is a type of naturally occurring or manmade substance that assists in growth of cells and combining smaller molecules in human body. In other words, anabolic androgenic steroid results in growth of several types of tissues, especially bone and muscle.
Use of anabolic androgenic steroid is popular among people who are interested in enhancement of physical performance - for example athletes and other sportspersons. Some individuals use it because they perceive its use will improve their appearance, in which case it almost becomes an addiction.
In the present time, anabolic androgenic steroid rakes up more controversy than its share, which is mainly on account of abuse of the drug. Many countries have devised stringent measures in attempts to control its use and distribution. However, it has medicinal benefit too.
Classified as Schedule III drugs in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act (U.S. Department of Justice-DEA, 1997), anabolic androgenic steroid is prescribed for treating anemia, osteoporosis, growth stimulation, gonad dysfunction, gynecological disorders, and chronic wasting conditions like cancer and AIDS, among others.