Dianabol is one of very few steroids we can call a “staple” in the bodybuilding world. Its popularity and reputation hasn’t waned a bit over the decades, and when something stays around for that long AND is still highly regarded you know it’s gotta be good.
Dianabol just makes you feel amazing and can build mass and strength like no other. That’s the good side of Dbol. But as with all steroids, the good is only half the story.
Dianabol’s side effects might not be as harsh as other compounds like Trenbolone but it can still cause issues for a lot of us across a range of different side effects.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of steroids (PEDs).
- What is Dianabol?
- What does Dianabol do?
- Short-Term Dianabol Side Effects
- Long-Term Dianabol Side Effects
- Estrogenic Side Effects
- Androgenic Side Effects
- Hepatotoxic Side Effects
- HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects
- Cardiovascular Side Effects
- Is Dianabol Safe?
- Final Thoughts
What is Dianabol?
Dianabol is the original oral anabolic steroid and one that has maintained its popularity over many decades. Today it’s still one of the most widely used and well known steroids for bodybuilders.
Dianabol is a C17-alpha alkylated steroid which allows Dbol to be taken orally. Most injectable steroids are not C17-alpha alkylated types, but Dianabol is also made in a much less common and less popular injectable form which is itself also of the C17-alpha alkylated type – therefore both forms have the same impacts on the liver. The vast majority of users will use oral Dianabol only.
Dianabol has a androgenic rating in the range of 40 to 60, and an anabolic rating of between 90 and 210. It has a very short half life of between 4 and 6 hours.
Just about anyone who uses Dianabol does so for two main reasons:
- to gain massive size
- to achieve immense strength.
It is well known that Arnold Schwarzenegger was taking Dianabol in his early bodybuilding years, and we can all see what it did for his physique. To this day men still strive to achieve the perfect Arnold-like body and Dianabol remains a valuable tool to help reach that goal.
What does Dianabol do?
Dianabol is primarily used to give a massive boost to strength and muscle gains, so it is almost always used in a bulking cycle.
Methandienone strengths lie in rapidly boosting the processes of protein synthesis and nitrogen retention, as well as glycogenolysis (the break down of glycogen to glucose).
Most bodybuilders are very familiar with the benefits of increased protein synthesis and nitrogen retention when it comes to muscle growth, but glycogenolysis is less understood despite this being a powerful function of Dianabol where the important energy source of glucose is stored by the body for use when it’s later needed.
Because glucose is the primary molecule for producing energy, we can see how important this is in Dianabol’s amazing ability to boost strength and weight lifting performance.
Dbol is an oral steroid and it kicks in fast. Most users will start noticing its effects within a matter of days of beginning a Dianabol cycle, starting with a noticeable increase in strength and lifting ability.
Mass gain will follow soon after, and although a lot of this will be water weight early in the cycle, with good fluid retention control your gains will be mostly lean muscle as the cycle progresses. Dbol users can easily gain 15-20lbs and even more in a cycle.
One of the best ways to use Dianabol to maximize its effects is at the start of a cycle as a kickstart compound. Its fast acting nature helps you blast of a cycle within days and you’ll be lifting heavier weights early on, while waiting for other slower injectable steroids to kick in.
While Dbol is an amazing steroid in its own right, you won’t often see it being used as a sole compound but instead one that is almost always used with at least Testosterone. Dbol stacks well with most other steroids like Deca Durabolin and Primobolan.
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Short-Term Dianabol Side Effects
The immediate and short term side effects that Dbol causes are almost as famous as its benefits.
Specifically I’m talking about bloating or water retention. This estrogenic effect is not only unsightly, but can also lead to raised blood pressure so you’ll want to keep it under control by using something like Nolvadex.
Along the same lines, a sudden development of gynecomastia is also common with Dbol. While gyno should in theory be a short term side effect, if you make the mistake of letting it get out of control it can a more permanent problem.
Other short term side effects can include acne, and increased cholesterol. Once again cholesterol can become a longer term problem if you use Dianabol too often or at high doses.
When used moderately for short cycles and suitable breaks in between cycles combined with a good diet, cholesterol levels can go back to normal in otherwise healthy people.
Long-Term Dianabol Side Effects
Prolonged use of Dianabol and using it at high doses puts you at risk of long term side effects and potential permanent damage to your health.
Dianabol comes with even greater risk of causing longer term complications because it’s an oral steroid, therefore you are much more restricted in the duration of time you should be using it to minimize these risks.
Dianabol’s potential to cause long term complications will rise significantly once you start using it for cycles of more than 8 weeks, and if you don’t have enough of a break in between cycles to let you liver, kidneys and cardiovascular system recover.
Just what is the appropriate length of time to wait in between Dianabol cycles (and that includes not using any other C17-alpha alkylated steroids during this time)? Getting bloodwork done to find out the precise status of your body’s condition is a surefire way to know for sure how you’re dealing with the steroid, and if you’ve fully recovered after a cycle.
Not everyone will be able to have bloods done, or simply will choose not to, and in this case you’ll be making an estimate for a safe timeframe if you want to follow up with another Dianabol or other C17-alpha alkylated steroid cycle.
A rule some guys use is to have the time off duration double that of your cycle. So if you did a 6 week Dianabol cycle, the break before the next cycle should be at least 12 weeks.
Estrogenic Side Effects
Dianabol’s aromatase activity is moderate compared to many other steroids, but it is still notorious for causing fluid retention which gives you a bloated appearance – not only on your body but often around the face. This bloating can come on very suddenly – often overnight – and provides a telltale sign to other people that you’re using steroids.
It’s certainly the most dreaded of any of Dbol’s external side effects, but with suitable control with a SERM or AI you should be able to control it well; in fact you will want to work to control fluid retention effectively as possible with it not being purely an aesthetic problem. Prolonged water retention can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels, which is another side effect that Dbol is well known for.
Androgenic Side Effects
Even though Dianabol has a lower androgenic rating than testosterone, androgenic effects are still common and can become severe in a minority of users. This will be an individual response so you can’t assume your experience will be like anyone else you know who has used Dianabol.
Our genetics play a big role in how Dianabol’s androgenic activity will promote these side effects and if you’ve used any other steroids previously you will have some idea of what to expect with Dianabol. Dbol can bring about the usual androgenic side effects:
- Hair loss (male pattern baldness)
- Body hair growth
The main cause of these adverse effects in Dbol is the 5-alpha reductase enzyme metabolization of Dianabol. This enzyme converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and its DHT that is a major cause of male pattern hair loss even when not using steroids.
When DHT levels are high, androgens are also high and this can also lead to development of acne. These are the underlying mechanisms of androgenic side effects in Dbol.
Luckily, this conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone from Dianabol is relatively low so DHT levels should not spike too much with this steroid. However if you’re considering the use of a drug like the 5a-reductase inhibitor (anti-androgen) Finasteride to treat hair loss, it is unlikely to be effective against Dianabol.
It’s the androgenic activity that causes problems for females who want to use Dianabol. This is not one of the steroids that is considered female friendly, and very few women will consider using Dbol because the androgenic effects will be pronounced, even at lower doses and this is despite the fact that Dianabol does come with a reduced androgenic rating than some other steroids.
The androgenic signs that female users of Dianabol will almost certainly develop to some degree include a hoarseness or deepening of the voice, growth of body hair, enlargement of the clitoris, reduction in breast size, menstrual cycle irregularities, loss of head hair and if a woman is pregnant and uses Dianabol, a high risk of a female fetus underground virilization processes.
Needless to say this is a steroid with pronounced androgenic effects that generally should be avoided by females unless she is happy to tolerate the side effects.
Hepatotoxic Side Effects
Being an oral C17-alpha alkylated anabolic steroid we know straight off that Dianabol is going to cause stress to the liver. Not all C17-aa steroids are equally toxic, and Dianabol can be considered moderate in this regard.
But its impacts on the liver should still be taken seriously and this is another reason why many people will take regular bloodwork while using Dianabol, to keep on top of its effects on the liver. Tests that your physician takes will look at levels of Aspartate Transferase (AST), Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP), Alanine Transferase (ALT), and bilirubin.
In the most extreme and rare cases, prolonged and extensive use of Dianabol could bring about renal failure or other liver dysfunctions such as liver carcinoma.
Avoiding alcohol is critical, and liver support supplements can go some way to reducing the stress, but the best way to reduce risks of liver damage is to limit your use of Dianabol to no more than 6 weeks at a time, using moderate doses, and giving your body enough time to recover in between cycles.
A general rule is a break between cycles should be at least double the length of your cycle – so a break of no less than 12 weeks after a 6 week cycle should provide ample time for recovery in otherwise healthy people.
HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects
Dianabol will cause quite severe suppression of normal testosterone production. This is due to the steroid’s impacts on the Hypothalmic Pituitary Testicular Axis (HPTA) because of an artificial inflation of circulating testosterone, and an increase in estrogen. In other words, your body is being tricked into thinking it no longer needs to produce much or any testosterone of its own.
You will certainly need to be using some exogenous testosterone in any Dianabol cycle. A low dose testosterone steroid at 100mg-200mg weekly is usually enough to prevent low testosterone and its associated symptoms.
If you allow yourself to fall into a state of low testosterone by not including exogenous testosterone in a Dbol cycle, the symptoms can be severe both physically and mentally, not to mention it’s just incredibly unhealthy to let your T levels get too low. Exogenous testosterone provides your body with the amount of testosterone it needs to function properly.
After your Dbol cycle has ended and enough time has passed that all steroids have left your body, normal testosterone function will begin to recover. This however is a gradual process and waiting for it to happen on its own once again puts you at risk of low testosterone levels.
This is where a post cycle therapy plan is critical with SERM drugs like Nolvadex and Clomid being essential to have on hand ready to go. These drugs accelerate your testosterone recovery and efficiency while levels are starting to naturally get back to normal.
Cardiovascular Side Effects
Dianabol can seriously impact your cholesterol levels. Your LDL (bad) levels can increase, while simultaneously your HDL (good) cholesterol levels decrease.
The hepatic triglyceride lipase enzyme is stimulated by C17-a alkylated steroids like Dianabol and this brings about the reduction in HDL levels, much more so than most injectable anabolic steroids which do not pass through the liver.
It is critical that you make efforts to manage your cholesterol while using Dbol; this includes eating a cholesterol friendly diet with plenty of omega-3 rich foods, include cardio exercise in your training, and even regular bloodwork to monitor your cholesterol levels. If you have existing cholesterol problems you should steer clear of using Dianabol completely.
Is Dianabol Safe?
Most anabolic steroids are safe to use under medical doses, but few are approved for this purpose. When it comes to using Dianabol for bodybuilding purposes – at doses much higher than would ever be used medically – we can never call it safe.
No steroid is considered safe to use for performance enhancement and the risks to your health are well known.
With Dianabol the risks are at the serious end, as they relate to your liver health and your cholesterol and overall heart health. These risks are reduced by limiting a Dianabol cycle to 6 weeks and avoiding the use of high doses beyond 50mg per day.
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Is Dbol toxic to the liver?
Dianabol will cause stress to the liver, and is a main reason why we need to limit dosage and cycle lengths to reduce the risk of permanent liver damage.
Does Dianabol shut down testosterone?
Dianabol may not completely shut down your testosterone production, but it will almost certainly suppress it quite severely. Dbol therefore requires the use of a testosterone steroid alongside it so you don’t fall into a state of low testosterone.
How do you stop the side effects of Dianabol?
The best way to minimize or prevent many of Dianabol’s side effects is to keep your dosage as low as possible.
Dianabol is very powerful and effective even at low doses and many people will get good Dianabol results without increasing the dose to the point where side effects become severe.
Estrogenic side effects can be reduced by using an AI or SERM, while testosterone suppression can be addressed by including a form of testosterone in your Dbol cycle.
Can Dianabol cause a heart attack?
Taking high doses or using Dianabol for long periods of time can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke due to Dianabol’s impacts on cholesterol. If left unchecked this can cause a build up of plaque in the arteries, causing a blockage of the arteries.
Will Dianabol cause hair loss?
Dianabol’s androgenic activity can potentially cause hair loss, or male pattern baldness. This is much more likely in men who are genetically predisposed to hair loss, but it can in some cases also bring about loss of hair in men who would not otherwise have gone bald later in life – such is the power of Dianabol’s androgenic effects. Keeping your dose low will reduce the risk of hair loss, but not remove the risk completely.
Is Dianabol legal?
Dianabol is a prohibited substance. Back in the 1960s and 1970s it was used medically legally, but it has been banned since the early 1990s in the US and most other countries.
People wanting to buy Dianabol do so via countries where it is still manufactured, usually on the black market and through unregulated underground labs.
How long can you use Dianabol?
The recommended duration of use in a Dianabol cycle is between 4 and 6 weeks. It is not recommended to extend a cycle beyond the 6 week mark due to Dianabol’s negative effects on the liver, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
The most effective way to use Dbol is at the start of a cycle to kickstart your gains, therefore your entire cycle can extend to 12 weeks or beyond while stopping Dbol at the 4-6 week mark when your other injectable compounds start taking effect.
Dianabol is a truly awesome steroid. It wouldn’t have retained its immense popularity all this time if it wasn’t great. But for a lot of us, the more you use it or the older you get, the harder it becomes to handle the side effects.
The bloating and cholesterol impacts alone are enough for me to want to quit using Dianabol completely. You’re not going to be 21 forever and those unhealthy spikes in cholesterol and liver stress can come back to bite you down the line.