Deca-Durabolin is one of the most popular injectable anabolic steroids. It has been used for many decades and all this time it has retained its high popularity in the bodybuilding community.
Mainly known for its excellent bulking capabilities, Deca-Durabolin also comes with some additional benefits that we rarely see with other steroids.
This makes it more of a versatile compound that you can use for a number of purposes and one that’s appealing to both bodybuilders and other types of athletes.
But like all steroids, Deca-Durabolin comes with its fair share of side effects. Although often touted as a mild steroid compared to many others, this is too much of a general term to apply to any steroid – all of which have the potential to cause serious health issues if not used responsibly.
As we’ll see with Deca-Durabolin’s side effects, some may be considered relatively mild while other aspects of its adverse effects are more harsh. If you do choose to use Deca-Durabolin it should be done so with an awareness of any and all the adverse effects it’s capable of causing.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of steroids (PEDs).
- What is Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone)?
- What does Deca-Durabolin do?
- Short-Term Side Effects
- Estrogenic Side Effects
- Androgenic Side Effects
- Hepatotoxic Side Effects
- HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects
- Cardiovascular Side Effects
- Women Specific Side Effects
- Is Deca-Durabolin Safe?
- My Conclusion and Recommendation
What is Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone)?
Deca-Durabolin is one of the most well known and widely used anabolic steroids. It’s official name is Nandrolone Decanoate, while Deca-Durabolin is the most common brand name.
This is a 19-nortestosterone (19-nor) steroid and the Decanoate ester is a slow acting ester, so Deca does not deliver fast results but rather, slow and steady gains.
It’s considered one of the big 3 in the steroid world, with only Dianabol beating it to the post in terms of popularity among bodybuilders.
Unlike a lot of other bulking steroids, Deca is also popular with performance athletes thanks to its therapeutic benefits.
Just like Dianabol, Deca-Durabolin has been around since the 1960s so there’s been plenty of time for bodybuilders to discover just what this steroid can do. Its benefits are now very well understood by those who use it, and likewise its side effects are familiar.
But like any steroid, not all users will experience the exact same side effects, with individual response playing a role.
As with all anabolic steroids, Deca-Durabolin is listed as a controlled substance in the US and its use in sporting competitions is banned worldwide. It’s also very hard to buy legit Deca-Durabolin. This steroid has a long detection time in urine samples – potentially six months or more.
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What does Deca-Durabolin do?
Deca-Durabolin is renowned for its mass building benefits and this makes it a very good off season bulking steroid.
Deca’s muscle gains are known to be slow and steady, but also much easier to retain than a lot other steroids which deliver fast gains and often a lot of water retention.
While Deca can potentially cause some water retention, this it not considered much of an issue with this steroid and should be easily controllable.
Deca’s muscle building ability is based on its boost to protein synthesis and increased IGF-1. Muscle nitrogen retention is one of the key benefits of Deca and its known to be excellent at this even at lower doses. By being able to retain more nitrogen in the muscles, your body stays in a higher anabolic state.
Loss of nitrogen leads to muscle loss so using Deca ensures that you do not enter a catabolic state. Deca’s most valued medical use was to prevent muscle wasting, which tells us just how powerful it is in this regard.
There’s more to this steroid than just being another powerful bulking compound though. One of the most valued benefits of Deca-Durabolin is its positive impact on the joints and healing.
Through the process of collagen synthesis which Deca is able to promote, this steroid has therapeutic effects on joints and connective tissue.
Increasing collagen synthesis can help with regeneration of cartilage, and while exercise itself can increase collagen synthesis, Deca can take this to a whole new level.
In practical terms this means faster recovery with faster healing of joints and tendons, increased strength of connective tissue which enhances your ability to lift heavier weights and reduce injury risk, and an overall higher ability to cope with greater stress on bones and joints which come about when you’re undertaking intense weight lifting.
Some Deca-Durabolin users will use this steroid purely for its therapeutic and recovery benefits, rather than as a bulking agent.
Performance athletes who are not particularly interested in gaining muscle, but who want to joint related benefits of Deca are known to use this steroid. At lower doses this goal is achievable without the athlete gaining noticeable muscle.
Short-Term Side Effects
Despite how powerful Deca-Durabolin is, its side effect profile is surprisingly tolerable compared to many other steroids. There are still many adverse effects to watch out for though, and these will be familiar to anyone who’s used any steroids previously.
For some men, some of the side effects can be serious and this is always going to be an individual response as well as dosage related.
Deca is notorious for causing sexual problems in some men and is often the main reason males will hesitate in using it, but not all males will experience this at all.
One way to avoid this issue is to stack Deca with another steroid that can promote nitric oxide levels like Trenbolone or higher doses of testosterone.
The Nandrolone hormone comes with quite powerful testosterone suppression activity and this will be the greatest concern for most (male) users.
Estrogenic and androgenic side effects are certainly possible with Deca-Durabolin, although they are considered moderate compared to many other steroids.
Other short term side effects that experienced steroid users will be familiar with are those related to estrogenic and androgenic activity.
As you’ll see below, these are not often severe problems with Deca-Durabolin but the possibility exists that they will appear and as with all steroid use, you should be prepared to mitigate them if required.
Estrogenic Side Effects
Deca-Durabolin has some aromatizing ability but not a whole lot by comparison to a lot of other compounds. This means while estrogen conversion can certainly happen with this steroid, side effects are not guaranteed. Still, you should be prepared to deal with them if they do develop.
As a 19-nor compound steroid, Deca-Durabolin is classed as a progestin and it’s activity on progesterone receptors can increase the incidence of estrogen type side effects.
Side effects of a progestin nature are very similar to those we are familiar with that result from estrogen conversion like gynecomastia, and water retention.
In particular it’s Nandrolone’s stimulation of mammary tissue estrogen receptors that is of most concern, leading to potential gynecomastia. Gyno is the primary estrogenic side effect that most users will be focused on.
While water retention is also a possibility, using anti-estrogen drugs like Arimidex (aromatase inhibitor) should be enough to prevent fluid retention from becoming a problem.
Androgenic Side Effects
As is the case with any steroid use, androgenic side effects are heavily dependent on your genetics. Even then, Deca-Durabolin is know as one of the more moderate in terms of its ability to cause androgenic type side effects. With an androgenic rating of just 37, compared to Testosterone’s 100, we can assume a less potent androgenic effect overall.
Some men will experience little or no issues in this area, but those who are more genetically predisposed can still find the usual androgenic suspects developing – but perhaps not as severely as with other steroids. Hair loss is likely to only affect those who have a strong genetic predisposition to male pattern baldness.
Acne is a possibility but you will rarely find a person suffering from severe steroid-acne problems as a result of Deca. Some guys have been known to say that Deca actually makes their skin look better.
Those with naturally oily skin can find the oil increases, but just about any other steroid that you stack with Deca is likely to be the acne causing culprit rather than Deca itself.
Hepatotoxic Side Effects
One of the big positives of Deca-Durabolin is its lack of toxicity on the liver. Other steroid types, especially oral 17a-alkylated steroids, are renowned for their highly liver toxic effects, but Nandrolone Decanoate is not known to pose this risk to the liver.
That’s not to say that using Deca-Durabolin at very high doses for long periods of time won’t put stress on the liver. Caution should always be taken, and of note is a study completed on rats with very high doses of Nandrolone Decanoate resulting in negative changes to liver enzymes and the lipid profile.
HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects
All steroids based on the Nandrolone hormone will cause a heavy suppression of testosterone, making this one of the more severe side effects of Deca-Durabolin.
It’s very possible that even low doses can result in complete shut down of normal testosterone production, although effects will vary between individuals.
In any case any male who uses Deca-Durabolin will find that the level of testosterone suppression is always serious enough to make the inclusion of a testosterone compound in the cycle essential – even if you consider your Deca-Durabolin to be at the low end.
Without the addition of an exogenous testosterone hormone, you will quickly find yourself suffering the debilitating effects of low testosterone.
When your Deca-Durabolin cycle ends, as well as the exogenous testosterone and any other suppressive steroids you might have included in your cycle, normal testosterone production will almost always resume unless more permanent damage has been done to the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular-Axis (HPTA), as a result of excessive steroid use.
The resumption of natural testosterone production can take many months if left to occur on its own. A PCT cycle is essential following use of Deca-Durabolin so that testosterone production can be encouraged to begin happening sooner and quicker, and to help you avoid a state of low testosterone.
Even with PCT you can expect regular testosterone function to take several months to return where it can function unsupported, but PCT will provide support during this time so you can avoid low testosterone and its associated symptoms which include loss of muscle, low energy, poor libido and sexual function, potential low mood and depression, and countless other debilitating effects.
Because it takes between two and three weeks for Deca-Durabolin to exit your body after your last dose, PCT should only begin at that time. This will need to be adjusted if you’re stacking Deca-Durabolin with other compounds that are suppressive in order to time the best starting point for your post cycle therapy.
Cardiovascular Side Effects
Cardiovascular related side effects are often the most concerning aspect of any anabolic steroid. These will include the impacts on cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which can place great pressure on the cardiovascular system if they’re negatively affected. In the case of Deca-Durabolin, this is generally considered a moderate risk.
While every individual will have their own cardiovascular risk factors, Deca-Durabolin is thought of as less cardiovascular stressing than oral steroids, but more so than regular testosterone.
Most users will experience changes in levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol to some extent, although without monitoring many Deca-Durabolin won’t be aware of these changes.
When LDL cholesterol levels rise and HDL levels fall, blood pressure can also increase as a result of the heart having to work harder to pump blood through the arteries.
Even though Deca is considered by some people to be mild in this regard, it’s important not to ignore the risks. Those with existing cholesterol or blood pressure related problems should take extra precautions or avoid using Deca-Durabolin completely.
Women Specific Side Effects
Even though it’s a potent steroid Deca-Durabolin can be used by women at lower doses. It’s not normally a first choice steroid for females, with other options that are considered more female-friendly, but those who want the specific benefits of Deca-Durabolin, it is possible to use it with a relatively low virilization risk provided high doses are avoided. Women will use Deca for both building lean muscle and for its therapeutic effects.
Deca has a relatively low androgenic rating – well under half that of testosterone. Despite this, androgenic side effects are still a possibility for female users and women need to monitor the effects closely and potentially lower the dose or cease use if unwanted symptoms start to develop.
Women using Deca-Durabolin for long periods of time are at higher risk of developing signs of masculinization like a deep voice and body hair growth. Women who wish to avoid these symptoms cycles should be kept to 6 weeks with a sufficient break in between.
If virilizing symptoms to develop, females who stop using Deca-Durabolin right away will need to wait around 12 days until the hormone exits the system and allowing those signs to fade. This is another reason why women will often choose steroids like Anavar instead.
Is Deca-Durabolin Safe?
While Deca-Durabolin has been used by bodybuilders and athletes for well over 50 years, no anabolic steroid can ever be proclaimed as safe when used for performance enhancement purposes.
In Deca-Durabolin’s case, it’s potential impacts on the cardiovascular system can’t be ignored and the longer it’s used for and at higher doses, the increased risk this poses.
Additionally, it’s very common for Deca-Durabolin to be stacked with other steroids that come their own risks to cardiovascular, resulting in a compounding of these health threats.
Since Nandrolone has useful medical benefits, it has been the subject of a number of studies and is generally regarded as being well tolerated by most participants.
These studies do usually involve doses that are much lower than we would want to use Deca for bodybuilding purposes, and it can never be known for certain what potential health impacts a higher dose of Deca may have on you as an individual.
As with all anabolic steroids: Deca-Durabolin should be used at your own risk.
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Does Deca affect the liver?
Deca is not known to be toxic to the liver, unlike many other steroids.
What are the side effects of Durabolin?
Deca’s main side effects are substantial testosterone suppression, negative changes to cholesterol, increased blood pressure, erectile dysfunction or sexual problems in some men, and gynecomastia. Women can experience virilizing side effects at higher doses or after prolonged use.
Will Deca raise blood pressure?
Deca-Durabolin can cause negative changes to your cholesterol which puts pressure on the heart and arteries, resulting in increased blood pressure. Deca can cause some water retention in some users, but the main risk to increased blood pressure with this steroid is due to its impact on cholesterol levels.
Can Deca make you tired?
Fatigue or tiredness is not a known side effect of Deca. It can be a symptom of low testosterone levels and Deca is a suppressive steroid. Men will always want to use an exogenous testosterone steroid alongside Deca to avoid low testosterone.
PCT is required after a Deca cycle; without it you will certainly suffer with low testosterone and extreme fatigue among other symptoms.
Does Deca cause hair loss?
Deca has a low androgenic rating and does not result in loss of hair in most men, but some who are more genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness might experience this side effect.
What is nandrolone decanoate used for?
Deca-Durabolin is a powerful stimulator of muscle growth and lean muscle mass gains. It has strong benefits for healing and strengthening of joints and connective tissue by promoting collagen synthesis.
How safe is Deca-Durabolin?
All steroids come with health risks, especially if you use it for considerable lengths of time without a break in between cycles. Studies where this steroid has been used for medical purposes has shown it to be well tolerated and safe, but it should be kept in mind medical use is almost always at doses significantly lower than those used for bodybuilding.
My Conclusion and Recommendation
Deca-Durabolin is a legendary steroid and there’s no doubt that it works very well at what it does best – promoting nice muscle gains with strengthening and healing of the joints. This is a unique and beneficial combination to have in a steroid so it’s little wonder that Deca has been popular for decades.
But despite the positive benefits, there’s still plenty of downsides to worry about when using Deca-Durabolin.
It’s often repeated that this is one of the “safest” and “mildest” of steroids. But that’s only because others are really really harsh – Deca is still a harsh steroid to use, especially at the doses we need to get desirable bodybuilding results.
You also need to be using it alongside at least testosterone, so that’s two injectables at a minimum per cycle. Personally, I’m tired of injecting anything. It’s not just the side effect risks of Deca that have turned me away, but the discomfort and pain of injecting.
Then there’s the legal aspects… you see, I could go on with the reasons why I choose to no longer use Deca-Durabolin.