by Renn 

What Are The Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroid Use In Females?


Stepping into the world of physique enhancement, you, as a female bodybuilder, may be tempted to blanket the hard-earned muscle with anabolic steroids for accelerated results. However, it’s crucial to recognize the potential side effects that accompany the use of these substances in females. This comprehensive article aims to shed light on the former, illuminating not only the strength-inducing benefits but also the potential health impacts and risks of resorting to anabolic steroids. Offering an arsenal of knowledge backed by science, this exploration seeks to empower you with informed decisions in your quest for strength and health.

Understanding Anabolic Steroids

Definition and types of anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetic or man-made versions of the male hormone testosterone. They are known as anabolic-androgenic steroids because they have two different types of effects: they promote the growth of muscles (anabolic effect) and simulate male sexual characteristics (androgenic effect). Different types of anabolic steroids include testosterone, nandrolone, oxandrolone, as well as synthetic hormones like Stanozolol and Trenbolone.

How anabolic steroids work

So, how do anabolic steroids work? These substances boost muscle growth by stimulating certain cells to produce more protein. In fact, they intensify the process of muscle tissue regeneration after workouts, making them attractive for bodybuilders and athletes. Steroids also block cortisol, a hormone released when a person is stressed. Normally, cortisol breaks down muscle tissue. However, with anabolic steroids, this natural process is subdued, hence uplifting athletes’ capacity for vigorous training and their recovery afterwards.

Legal and illegal use of anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are classified as “controlled substances” in many countries, including the U.S., meaning their use is regulated by the law. They are legally used in medicine to treat conditions like delayed puberty and muscle loss due to disease, but they need to be prescribed by a medical professional. However, improper use of anabolic steroids, such as for performance-enhancing purposes, is considered illegal. This misuse occurs in various contexts, from professional sports to gym establishments and beauty salons.

Reasons for Female Use of Anabolic Steroids

Enhancing athletic performance

Women look to anabolic steroids to gain an edge in sports, often under immense pressure to perform at peak level. These drugs can increase power and stamina, yielding more impactful training sessions and better performance in competitions.

Bodily transformation and bodybuilding

Anabolic steroids are also used to achieve a certain body aesthetic, particularly within the realm of bodybuilding. They speed up the development of lean muscle mass and reduce fat, bringing about significant bodily transformations.

Peer and societal pressures

The pressure from peers or society to conform to a specific body image can be a powerful motivator for some women to start using steroids. The thought of achieving desired results swiftly can be tempting, sometimes leading to the downside of steroid use.

Struggle with body dysmorphia

Struggles with body dysmorphia or distorted body image might also lead to steroid use, as women may see steroids as a quick solution to achieve the ‘perfect’ body they perennially seek, though in reality, this perfection is often a warped perception of their own bodies.

Commonly Used Anabolic Steroids in Females

Oral steroids

Oral anabolic steroids such as Anavar, Winstrol, and Dianabol are commonly used by women. These are known for their capability of enhancing muscle mass and physical strength without causing severe side effects, provided they are used in controlled doses.

Injectable steroids

Injectable steroids are another form of steroids consumed by women, although they might have more severe side effects. Products like Deca Durabolin and Primobolan Depot are examples of injectable steroids.

Skin patches or gels

Steroid skin patches or gels are applied directly onto the skin, providing an alternative to oral or injectable steroids. ABC mentions Androgel and Testoderm as examples of these products.

Physical Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Use in Females

Muscular changes

While changes such as increased muscle mass might be desired, steroids can lead to an undesirable changes like developing a more muscular look than desired, or muscular imbalance due to uneven growth.

Skin and hair changes

Steroids can cause skin issues such as acne, oily skin, and stretch marks due to rapid muscle growth. They can also lead to hair changes like male pattern baldness or excess body and facial hair.

Cardiovascular complications

Long-term use of steroids can lead to cardiovascular complications, including heart disease and stroke due to alteration in cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Liver and kidney issues

Anabolic steroids can also inflict damage on the liver and kidneys over time, leading to liver failure, kidney disease or even cancer in worst-case scenarios.

Menstrual irregularities and fertility issues

Women using steroids can experience problems with their menstrual cycle, which may become irregular and even cease. Fertility issues and miscarriages can also occur.

Increased risk of breast and cervical cancer

There is evidence of an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer among steroid users due to abnormal cell growth stimulated by these drugs.

Psychological Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Use in Females

Mood swings and aggression

Steroid consumption can evoke unusual mood swings, also known as ‘roid rage’, along with heightened aggression. These mood changes might impact relationships and everyday life.

Depressive episodes

Depression is also a common side effect of steroid use in females. As steroid cycles conclude, women may experience depressive episodes that might require professional medical intervention.

Increased risk of suicide

The lows experienced during or after a steroid cycle, especially when accompanied by depression, could lead to suicidal thoughts, increasing the risk of suicide.

Psychotic behavior

Some users may go through psychotic episodes, exhibiting irrational thoughts and actions. This could include severe behavioral shifts and delusions, often requiring professional help.

Cognitive impairments

Long-term use of anabolic steroids can negatively impact cognitive function and memory.

Addiction or dependence issues

Steroids can be addictive. The impacts on physical appearance and performance can lead to dependence, where users feel they cannot function or look acceptable without the aid of these drugs.

Impact on Sexual and Reproductive Health

Menstrual cycle disturbances

Anabolic steroids might cause disturbances in a woman’s menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods or complete cessation.


Long-term use of steroids presents a risky possibility of infertility.

Masculinizing effects

Steroids could result in masculinizing effects such as deepened voice and enlarged clitoris, which might not reverse even after stopping steroid use.

Breast shrinkage

A decrease in the size of breasts is a potential side effect for women using steroids.

Increased sex drive

Paradoxically, while steroids might impair fertility, they can also surge the sex drive.

Long-term Consequences of Steroid Use

Cardiac issues

Over time, misuse of steroids can lead to heart diseases and other cardiovascular issues, not exclusive to potential strokes and heart attacks.


Steroids interfere with the metabolism of calcium, which leads to a risk of developing osteoporosis or fragile and brittle bones.

Mental health concerns

Chronic use of steroids can result in severe mental health issues, from addictive behavior to severe mood swings, depression and even psychosis.

Prolonged hormonal imbalance

Steroids disrupt the normal hormonal balance which could lead to long-term health complications like fertility problems and menstruation irregularities.

Detox and Recovery from Anabolic Steroids

Withdrawal symptoms

When someone stops taking steroids, withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, restlessness, appetite loss, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings, could emerge as the body numbs from the sudden halt in synthetic hormones intake.

Professional treatment options

Treatment for steroid abuse often involves therapy and medications. Therapies like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are effective in treating drug addiction and specialty clinics offer a range of treatments.

Long-term recovery prospects

Prolonged abuse can lead to persistent health issues. However, with the right professional treatment and support, many of the physical and psychological effects can be managed and eventually overcome.

Support available for users and families

Support groups can be crucial in recovery. Family participation in therapy and supportive networks can also significantly aid the process.

Prevention and Education about Anabolic Steroids

Awareness campaigns

Awareness campaigns help in educating people about the dangers of steroid use. Countless organizations work to spread this message.

School-based education

Educational initiatives in schools play a vital role in preventing steroid use, by informing students about the adverse effects of these drugs.

Online information and support resources

The internet provides a wide range of resources, both for educational purposes and support for those suffering from steroid addiction.

Role of primary care physicians

Physicians can also play a critical role in prevention, by guiding patients away from misuse and towards healthier alternatives.

The Legal Perspective on Anabolic Steroid Use

Laws surrounding anabolic steroids

In many jurisdictions, anabolic steroids are controlled substances, and their use, possession, sale, and distribution are all regulated by law.

Consequences of illegal use

Illegally possessing or distributing steroids can lead to severe punishments, including fines and jail time.

Professional athletes and doping scandals

Even professional athletes have been caught in doping scandals, which has resulted in lost titles, tarnished reputations, and often, significant legal repercussions. These cases have led to increased awareness and criticism of the use of anabolic steroids in sports.

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