Anadrol has a reputation as one of the more harsh steroids and it’s normally not recommended as one to use if you’re a beginner.
The side effects of Anadrol cover virtually the entire range of adverse effects you can experience with steroids in general, but with this one they can be particularly strong side effects.
Still, the powerful benefits that Anadrol can deliver for bodybuilders can outweigh the negatives but you would want to have a good amount of steroid experience behind you before giving Anadrol a go.
It has quite a niche use in steroid cycles which should be well understood before taking the plunge with this compound.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the use of illegal steroids (PEDs).
- What is Anadrol (Oxymetholone)?
- What does Anadrol do?
- Short-Term Side Effects
- Estrogenic Side Effects
- Androgenic Side Effects
- Hepatotoxic Side Effects (How Anadrol Affects the Liver)
- HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects
- Cardiovascular Side Effects
- Is Anadrol Safe?
- Final Thoughts
What is Anadrol (Oxymetholone)?
Anadrol is an oral steroid based on DHT that has been around for over 60 years and has legendary status in the bodybuilding community. It’s not a steroid for everyone though, because its potency extends not only to its benefits, but its adverse effects as well.
Anadrol is a brand name and the most commonly known name, with the chemical name of this steroid being Oxymetholone. It’s also sometimes called Anadrol-50 and Anapolon.
In the past Anadrol was used to treat several types of medical conditions including anemia because of the way it boosts red blood cell count. This activity is of great interest to bodybuilders as we benefit considerably when more oxygen and nutrients can be carried to the muscles.
Anadrol’s ability to promote protein synthesis makes it very effective at encouraging mass gains. Osteoporosis, muscle wasting, and other conditions where weight gain is needed are some of the other medical uses for Anadrol.
Not many anabolic steroids are still used medically today in the US, but Anadrol is one of them. This means it is produced at a pharmaceutical grade in a number of countries. It is most commonly produced as a 50mg tablet.
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What does Anadrol do?
Anadrol gives you its maximum benefit when you use it as a kick start compound at the start of a cycle that includes other injectable steroids, or to break through plateaus mid-cycle.
This is a steroid that should be used for 4-6 weeks at the most, and its effects are usually most pronounced in those first few weeks anyway with little benefit (compared to the strong side effects) in using Anadrol for much longer.
The idea is then to allow other injectable (rather than oral steroids, which shouldn’t be stacked with Anadrol due to liver impacts) steroids take over after jump starting with Anadrol.
Anadrol’s main benefits are:
Anadrol will have you putting on lots of weight very quickly. It can transform a physique within weeks and this is its main use.
While a lot of your gains will be muscle, there’s also going to be some water retention which can give you a “blown up” look, depending how prominent the fluid becomes.
It’s not unusual for up to half the weight gained to be water so if you put on 30lbs in a cycle, expect around half of it to be muscle gains which is still a substantial amount.
Some hardcore Anadrol users can see muscle gains up to 20lbs over 6 weeks with the right workouts and diet.
There’s a good reason Anadrol is beloved by powerlifters and others who need massive strength. With the big testosterone boost you get, Anadrol pushes your strength into the stratosphere very quickly.
Substantial increases in lifting ability can be felt. Think in the order of 50lbs and more added to your usual deadlifts, bench press and others. Those sorts of strength gains are rarely if ever seen with any other steroid.
Anadrol’s muscle and strength gains come on quickly, but they can also disappear quickly once you stop using the steroid. You are likely to lose a lot of weight post-cycle, and strength usually decreases by about half.
Maintaining weight and strength can be aided by transitioning into other steroids for a longer cycle once you’ve stopped Anadrol.
Increases your appetite
This in turn helps lead to you gaining more weight because you’ll need to be eating a lot of calories to support the sort of weight gain that’s possible with this steroid.
However at too high doses, Anadrol can have the opposite effect of reducing the appetite which is probably due to stress being caused to your liver. Lowering the dose can both bring your appetite back to a high level, while decreasing liver toxicity risks.
Anadrol has been used as an osteoarthritis treatment so it clearly has some benefits for bones and joints even if this isn’t the primary effect of this steroid.
Lifting increasingly heavier weights as we do when experiencing Anadrol’s substantial strength increases, does put additional pressure on the joints.
Anadrol can reduce joint pain and inflammation, while improving joint elasticity and lubrication which improves your joint motion and reduces risk of strain and injury.
It’s hard to look past the ease of administration of Anadrol with it being an oral steroid. Taking a tablet is infinitely easier and less stressful (for most of us) than injecting steroids.
Yes, this oral steroid comes with significant downsides, but as far as administering your daily dose goes it really doesn’t get any easier than an Anadrol tablet.
Short-Term Side Effects
Most of Anadrol’s side effects can be considered short term, but with high dose or long term use, they risk turning into (or causing) long term health complications. The way you use Anadrol will determine just how short term these side effects will be.
They include familiar steroid side effects such as testosterone suppression, liver toxicity, water retention, gynecomastia, headaches, increased blood pressure, and negative cholesterol changes.
Mood changes are a common complaint with Anadrol. This is a temporary side effect but can be debilitating for some people because it impacts every part of your life. This side effect will vary between individuals, but it’s common for people to report a low mood, depression, or severe mood swings.
Some will find paranoia develops, while others suffer with classic roid rage including aggression and irritability. These are serious side effects impacting mental health, relationships, work and other parts of life and for some users may be bad enough to lead them to quit using Anadrol completely.
Anadrol’s impact on the liver is the biggest concern with this steroid. Although repeated and prolonged stress to the liver from using Anadrol can become a serious long term problem, with moderate use your liver should recover with enough time in between cycles and by maintaining a good liver friendly diet (without alcohol) and optionally a liver support supplement.
Estrogenic Side Effects
While Anadrol doesn’t convert to estrogen, estrogenic side effects are not only possible with this steroid, but can be quite severe. This is due to direct stimulation of the estrogen receptors rather than aromatization.
Water retention is the most notorious physical side effect of Anadrol. You can go some way to reducing this by eating a low sodium diet and drinking a lot of water. If your diet is high or even moderate in sodium then expect water retention to become a dominating feature of your Anadrol cycle.
Some users can like a bit of water retention, if the smooth muscle look is your goal. But if you’re wanting nice muscle definition and vascularity, the extra fluid won’t be your friend.
Gynecomastia is also a possibility with Anadrol. Some guys are more gyno sensitive than others, and again it’s at higher doses that you’ll be more at risk but most users will find it easily mitigated.
Because these estrogenic type side effects aren’t caused by estrogen conversion, aromatase inhibitors won’t help. Nolvadex or Clomid can go some way in reducing these side effects, but since they’re anti-estrogens they can bring estrogen levels down too low which brings about its own set of problems (including worsening the already serious effects on cholesterol).
Androgenic Side Effects
Androgenic side effects are where we can get some form of relief with Anadrol, but they won’t necessarily be non-existent. Anadrol’s androgenic rating is about half that of testosterone, but there are other ways androgenic side effects can rear their ugly head.
Although Anadrol is a DHT based steroid, it can still convert to DHT. This process is different to how DHT conversion works with most other steroids but it leads to a similar risk: hair loss on the head. It is an individual side effect based on genetics, so some guys won’t have a problem but others will find hair loss to be a problem and it can often be permanent.
Traditional hair loss treatment drugs like Finasteride won’t work when you’re using Anadrol because of the way it converts to DHT. In any case, trying to reduce your DHT levels to combat hair loss can have negative impacts on your Anadrol results by decreasing muscle and strength gains.
Acne and oily skin are also problems for some Anadrol users. With more sebum production going on, if you’re prone to acne you will likely flare up on a cycle and it can extend to the shoulders, back, arms and elsewhere along with the face.
Hepatotoxic Side Effects (How Anadrol Affects the Liver)
Anadrol is known as one of the most hepatotoxic steroids. It will have a stronger negative effect on the liver than any other steroid and this is the main reason why recommendations for its length of use are 4 weeks, although some will use it for 6 weeks and even longer and claim that the liver toxicity impact is not as bad as some people think.
This is a risky strategy though, and first time users of Anadrol should remain on the side of caution when it comes to liver toxicity because you simply won’t know how you will personally respond to such a potent steroid.
Classed as a C17-alpha alkylated compound which allows it to be taken orally, Anadrol is potentially more toxic to the liver than other c17-aa steroids. In any cases, stacking Anadrol with any other c17-aa steroid should be totally avoided. It can be stacked with injectable steroids as they usually cause minimal stress to the liver.
Studies have been done using very high doses of Anadrol in people. The period of use was also long: 16 weeks taking up to 150mg daily. The result was a five times increase in liver enzyme values. Most bodybuilders will be using Anadrol at no more than 100mg per day, but this is more than enough to cause liver stress.
Other studies at lower doses – 50mg and below – have shown much less impact to the liver. Potentially, if you use Anadrol at the lowest dose, liver side effects may be minimized in healthy people. Liver support supplements can optionally be used to provide some protection regardless of your Anadrol dose.
HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects
Anadrol will suppress your testosterone strongly so PCT is definitely required after using it to restore testosterone production faster, and avoid low testosterone symptoms.
Signs that you might have low testosterone as a result of this suppression include loss of muscle, fat gain, lethargy, depression and low libido.
Since most use of Anadrol is at the start or middle of a cycle with other suppressive steroids, you will likely have your PCT ready to go regardless of Anadrol’s effects. Anadrol is notorious for causing a form of withdrawal and suddenly stopping it can cause a range of issues for some of us.
This is also related to the sudden halt of exogenous testosterone, and this crash is a reason why many will want to use an intermediary steroid to help transition out of the cycle and into PCT.
Deca-Durabolin is a common choice for this purpose. Not only will it help stop a sudden testosterone crash, but can also help you maintain your muscle and strength gains.
Cardiovascular Side Effects
Anadrol will cause changes to your cholesterol that involve reducing levels of good cholesterol (HDL) while raising levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Higher doses will make this (and most other) side effects more severe.
The serious health risks of these cholesterol alterations involve a thickening of the oxygen and nutrient carrying arteries, which can restrict the vital flow of blood to the body from the heart.
When used for longer periods of time, these cholesterol changes can become dangerous. If using Anadrol, your diet should be as cholesterol-friendly as possible. If you have existing cholesterol issues, it’s strongly advised to avoid using Anadrol altogether.
This change in cholesterol levels can also cause high blood pressure to develop. In the case of Anadrol, it can cause significant and dangerously high blood pressure.
Combined with water retention, which also raises blood pressure, we have a steroid that has a hugely negative impact on the heart and cardiovascular system in general.
Needless to say, if you suffer with high blood pressure or are even aware of a family history of heart disease, Anadrol should be avoided as you are at higher risk of complications.
Is Anadrol Safe?
All steroids are potentially dangerous, and Anadrol is definitely one of the harshest steroids around that needs to be used with a smart strategy and a good amount of caution.
Keeping Anadrol cycles short is highly recommended, otherwise it could become unsafe mainly due to the stress caused to the liver.
At higher doses you will almost certainly suffer severe water retention which is not only unsightly, but more importantly can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Also because of its negative effects on the liver, Anadrol would be unsafe to stack with any other C-17 alpha alkylated steroids.
When used sensibly and sparingly, you can reduce most of the dangers of Anadrol but it’s difficult to say that Anadrol is safe – there are simply too many risks to consider.
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Is Anadrol a strong steroid?
Anadrol is a very strong steroid. In the mind of many people it’s the strongest steroid we can use and it causes powerful effects on both the positive and negative sides.
Can you get gyno from Anadrol?
Anadrol can cause gynecomastia, along with fluid retention. But this isn’t caused by estrogen conversion like with most other steroids so using aromatase inhibitors won’t be effective. People try different strategies to reduce gyno with Anadrol, but some find success with using Nolvadex at 5-10mg per day.
Does Anadrol cause hair loss?
Too much DHT can cause head hair loss, and Anadrol is based on DHT but can also convert to DHT in a different way to most other steroids. This means hair loss is still a risk with Anadrol if you’re genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness.
Is Dianabol or Anadrol safer?
Both are powerful steroids, and no steroid can be considered safe when used for bodybuilding purposes. At high doses, both Anadrol and Dianabol can be dangerous.
Anadrol in particular has serious impacts on cholesterol and the liver. To minimize safety risks with either steroid, use low doses and limit the length of your cycles.
Does Anadrol affect sleep?
Some Anadrol users can develop insomnia or general sleeping problems. This is a powerful hormone that can cause changes the impact sleep. Taking Anadrol early in the day might help, while eliminating caffeine, sugar and other stimulants is also recommended. If all else fails, lowering your Anadrol dose may reduce the severity of sleep issues.
Can Anadrol suppress your appetite?
Anadrol should result in an increase to your appetite if you’re using the steroid correctly. If your dose is too high it can cause issue with your liver which can bring about appetite suppression, making it difficult to consume enough calories to gain weight. If you experience appetite suppression on Anadrol, reduce your dosage.
Can Anadrol be used for a cutting cycle?
Anadrol is very much a bulking steroid, in fact possible the most powerful bulking steroid. It’s not suitable for cutting cycles because of the water retention that is almost certain to occur. This masks your physique and makes it difficult to achieve the defined, shredded look you’d want from a cutting cycle.
Anadrol is not a steroid for the faint hearted. It’s what I would call the scariest steroid of all. You just don’t know what it’s going to do to you, but you can be almost certain the side effects will be a dominant feature of a cycle.
There’s no way that using Anadrol for the long term is sustainable. In fact these days I’d argue that buying Anadrol even isn’t worth it. The side effects are beyond horrible…