The immediate effects of AAS in the brain are mediated by their binding to androgen (male sex hormone) and estrogen (female sex hormone) receptors on the surface of a cell. This AAS–receptor complex can then shuttle into the cell nucleus to influence patterns of gene expression. Because of this, the acute effects of AAS in the brain are substantially different from those of other drugs of abuse. The most important difference is that AAS are not euphorigenic, meaning they do not trigger rapid increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine , which is responsible for the “high” that often drives substance abuse behaviors. However, long-term use of AAS can eventually have an impact on some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—such as dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs of abuse. Considering the combined effect of their complex direct and indirect actions, it is not surprising that AAS can affect mood and behavior in significant ways.
An important note; there are very few anabolic androgenic steroids females can use safely as many cause strong virilization effects. However, there are a few that are very mild and if the female uses mildly and keeps a close eye on her well-being she greatly increases her potential for staying safe. For any female who supplements if signs of virilization begin to show she should immediately discontinue use and the effects will dissipate; it is when the symptoms are ignored and use continues that they can become damaging. Further, in regards to children, adolescents should not touch these powerful hormones by any means as they can be very damaging to their growth and development and the damage is irreversible.