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What’s the Difference Between Steroids and TRT?

What’s the difference between steroids and TRT? Let’s discuss.

You know your body better than anyone else.

And you know that the constant fatigue you’ve been experiencing, your frustratingly-low libido, and your recurrent onslaught of sudden crankiness towards those you love the most probably have a lot to do with having low testosterone levels.


What you might not be aware of, however, is that there are safe and effective options available for you to increase your testosterone level without compromising the health and well being of the rest of your body!

Steroids and Testosterone — What Is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that not only promotes bone density and muscle growth, but also produces sperm in testes.

Low Testosterone levels often conjure up Low T myths in the mind of many. Perhaps the biggest myth is that choosing testoste­­­rone replacement therapy to increase testosterone levels will produce exactly the same side effects as abusing steroids.

When some hear Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) they automatically equate it to bodybuilding or fear that they are going to get instantly ripped as if they were “that guy” in the gym. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Some of the main differences include legal distinctions, medical diagnosis, management of side-effects, and the individual’s reason for taking the drug. Ultimately, it comes down to dose.

Many “steroid abusers” use the same medication (testosterone cypionate) as is commonly used in TRT. The difference is in the goals and purpose of therapy, and most importantly, in the way the big picture is managed.

TRT Is a Medical Treatment — Steroids Are Not

While steroids are often obtained and injected illegally, testosterone replacement therapy is a medical treatment prescribed and administered by health care professionals to help treat the effects of low testosterone levels in men.

Properly administered hormone replacement therapy restores an overall positive sense of self, rejuvenates a heightened well-being, and sparks a more youthful energetic feeling without all the countless and unpredictable side effects of steroids abuse.

Illegal steroids use, on the other hand, is typically used for cosmetic benefits or physical performance reasons – to build muscle and lose body fat or to enhance one’s ability to perform in a sport or excel in bodybuilding.

This treatment is not approved by the FDA. Following medically valid diagnostic tests to determine if there is indeed a deficiency in one’s testosterone level, hormone replacement therapy is then used for medical purposes – to treat a deficiency of testosterone brought about by any number of reasons.

Conversely, there are no diagnostic tests to determine if someone needs anabolic steroids for recreational purposes.

While one is FDA-approved and the other is not, and while one is administered by a medical professional and the other is not, and while one is to treat a medical condition (Low T) and the other is not, both steroid abuse and hormone replacement therapy do have side effects.

Side Effects of TRT

Some of the side effects that can be caused by TRT include: a sudden breakout of acne, male breast enlargement, an enlarged prostate, difficulty urinating, mood swings, and fluid retention, among others. 

While these same side effects can occur with steroids abuse, their severity is pronounced with the superhuman levels reached when somebody is abusing testosterone.

Additionally there are other, more dangerous side effects associated with abuse of anabolic steroids. Some of these include: disease of the liver or spleen, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, blood clots, and heart disease.

The difference between TRT and steroid abuse is safety. Not just from a legal standpoint, but from a health standpoint.

Making sure that your overall health is not sacrificed in the name of “higher T levels” is one of the most important roles of a TRT provider.

Understand that any medicine can be a poison; it all depends on the dose. Make sure that when you choose someone to help you with your Low T symptoms, you select someone with the knowledge and expertise to improve your quality of life while ALSO keeping you safe.




(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C

(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C started his career in healthcare as a fireman/paramedic in West Texas where he served on the Midland Fire Department from 1998-2004.   He became interested in testosterone treatment after seeing how hormone replacement doctors helped those suffering from low testosterone.   After graduating from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Physician Assistant Program, he moved to DFW where he currently lives with his wife and three children.


  1. Connor Montgomery on 09/05/2015 at 3:20 pm

    Does TRT,medically monitored and administered cause AVN,A vasular Necrosis?

    Connor Montgomery

    • Augie Galindo on 09/09/2015 at 9:27 am


      I have not seen any association between these two issues before.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas – Founding Partner

  2. Max on 04/13/2016 at 3:01 am

    I have a low testosterone level. I wen and did test of my blood. My serum testosterone level was 158 ng while normal is from 245ng to 1600ng . I am 24 years old. What steroid injection is good to make it higher? I have somehow 70% symptoms of low testo level.

    Waiting for the reply.thank you

    • Augie Galindo on 04/19/2016 at 10:58 pm


      The best thing to do is to see a provider well versed in handling the dosing and management of side effects associated with TRT. It’s not just about knowing which medication to use, but how to best promote overall health while optimizing testosterone levels.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

  3. David on 07/31/2016 at 1:50 am

    I am 53 and recently diagnosed with low t. My level is 183. I have had 5 fem/pop bypass surgeries .and a few for an unknown blood clotting disorder. Can you help even if if I live in California?

    • Augie Galindo on 08/02/2016 at 9:21 am


      Unfortunately, I can’t. Because testosterone is a controlled substance, it’s use is highly regulated and we currently only treat local patients. Best of luck in your search! This blog post may help.

  4. Craig CRESSMAN on 09/11/2016 at 6:26 pm

    I am a 55 year old male. I have been fighting low t levels for three years. Doctor retired have new . Took me off the injections , and put me on rub on . Said my red blood count was at 51 to high so I am back to sleeping a lot weight loss . My level is 300 just wondering what options I have too keep t levels up without the red blood cell count rising higher thanks just need a second opinion

    • Augie Galindo on 10/02/2016 at 1:36 pm


      Thank you for your question. I fully recommend injections as the best modality for TRT. Your red blood cell (RBC) production does increase, so it is common to see the increase in your hematocrit (HCT). This is typically managed by dose adjustment or blood donation/therapeutic phlebotomy. The following is an excerpt from one of my older posts on side effects of TRT:

      Think of red blood cells (RBC’s) as the solid portion of the solution that is whole blood, and your hematocrit (HCT) the percentage of blood volume made up of RBC’s. If you add more solid to any solution without proportionately increasing the volume of the liquid it is suspended within, the result is a thicker solution. Thickening of the blood then, is the end result of an increase in the number of RBC’s.

      Hematocrit values greater than 54.0% increase a patient’s risk factors for abnormal clotting, spleen enlargement, heart failure and other serious conditions. If erythrocytosis does occur, it is typically rather easy to address. However if its assessment is overlooked, as is far too often the case, it can lead to potentially serious problems.

      Before sticking with topicals, I would recommend seeing what you can do to manage the response on injections.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

  5. John Martinez on 11/09/2016 at 5:25 pm

    Hello, Im an 32 male who has now been on 200mg injections a week for 3 months now. My doctor put me on these injections when we found out why I was so tired because of having such low T. My first test I took came out that my levels were only at 14, yes that’s right only 14!! I guess my question is that when will I really feel better!!???? Yes I do feel a little less tired and more energy but nothing like I was expecting from reading and hearing from other people. With starting at levels as low as 14 would it take much longer to feel better then someone that would of start with levels let’s say around 200?? I just want to feel better and so far feel like my dose that I’m taking is not helping. Also is 200mg a week a good dose to be on for having such low levels?? Thank you very much for your time!! -John-

    • Augie Galindo on 11/22/2016 at 11:09 am


      Your starting levels don’t really factor into the dose. It’s your individual biochemical response that matters and that can vary widely. If you only feel mildly better after 3 months of consistent therapy, then I would venture to say that other issues (like estradiol levels) are not being properly managed.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

  6. Roger on 03/17/2017 at 2:26 pm

    Hello i was wondring if i could get some advice on what to do.
    I got low testosterone (27 Years old), i live in sweden where this kind of treatment isent possible. You cant get it from doctors, i need some help on what i can do to get help or help myself.

    • Augie Galindo on 03/30/2017 at 5:44 pm


      Unfortunately, I have no contacts where you are at, and care of this type involves the prescription of controlled substances, so I can only help patients in states where I hold licenses. Best of luck!

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

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