Prohormones are chemical compounds that the body uses to make hormones and steroids, which some bodybuilders and other people wishing to build muscle use as an alternative to illegal anabolic steroids, advises Health Guidance. As of 2015, some experts do not consider prohormones to be safe and expect lawmakers to restrict their use.
Prohormones have similar muscle-building effects as anabolic steroids and testosterone boosters. Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds that are similar to testosterone and provide dramatic muscle-building results, but have many negative side effects, explains Health Guidance. With prolonged use of steroids, the body eventually produces less natural testosterone and more estrogen in an effort to counteract the effects of the excess testosterone, potentially resulting in acne, erectile dysfunction and mood disorders. Testosterone boosters are supplements that encourage the body to naturally produce more of the hormone and do not cause the same health risks as anabolic steroids, but are not nearly as effective at building muscle.
Prohormones have less negative side effects and muscle-building effectiveness than anabolic steroids, but more negative side effects and muscle-building effectiveness than testosterone boosters, notes Health Guidance. While some proponents of prohormones believe the compounds to be safe, others warn that prohormone use can be just as dangerous as using anabolic steroids, particularly for those under the age of 19.