Anabolic steroid use among females for the purpose of performance enhancement is unsurprisingly significantly lower than among males. For this reason, female steroid use is a subject where not a lot of information exists and one that is not often discussed within bodybuilding communities.
There are a lot of reasons women choose not to use steroids to enhance the physique or boost performance. Females who use steroids are at risk of considerable physiological changes. This is the natural consequence of putting much larger amounts of testosterone or similar male hormones into the female body.
Depending on how the steroids are used, this can range from relatively small changes to development of extreme masculine traits.
So although it’s not common, some female athletes and bodybuilders do choose to use steroids for performance enhancing benefits. When undertaken carefully, these women can achieve significant benefits while carefully controlling the side effects.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of steroids (PEDs).
- Preliminary Considerations for Female Anabolic Steroid Use
- Differences Between Male and Female Steroid Cycles
- The Best (and Worst) Anabolic Steroids for Women
- Examples of Female Steroid Cycles
- Post Cycle Therapy for Women
- Possible Side Effects and Dangers
- Final Thoughts
Preliminary Considerations for Female Anabolic Steroid Use
Using steroids is a big deal for a female. After all, this involves taking unnaturally large quantities of male hormones into the body – hormones that the female body has not evolved to function with. Anabolic and androgenic steroids are synthetic forms and variations of the male hormone testosterone.
While females have a tiny amount of testosterone normally, any more of this male sexual hormone does just what it does in male: causes the development of male characteristics as a result of heightened androgenic and anabolic activity.
It’s the anabolic traits that are appealing to athletes, but as a female you’ll also be dealing with the unwanted androgenic effects. All of this leads to some serious considerations when you’re thinking of making use of steroids for performance and body enhancement purposes.
- Understanding that taking anabolic steroids means putting male hormones into the female body.
- Being aware that side effects are almost certain to develop, and in some cases can be serious and debilitating.
- Knowing which steroids are most suitable for females and which ones should be avoided altogether.
- Know about the half life of each steroid being considered and how long it takes to clear the system. This is important both for drug testing purposes as well as side effect control.
- Having a solid knowledge of dosages and cycles and how to best use the right steroids for the results you want, while balancing the side effect risks.
Steroid use by females should always be very carefully considered and planned, to avoid the potential serious side effects that are almost certain to come about when the use of steroid hormones aren’t strictly controlled and monitored.
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Differences Between Male and Female Steroid Cycles
The harsh and drastic effects that steroids have on all female users makes it absolutely necessary to tailor a steroid cycle specifically for female needs.
A woman using any anabolic steroid can not simply take the same dose and use the same cycle length as a male user. Here are the main differences between male and female steroid cycles:
- Short cycle lengths are required so you can manage the effects of virilization. The longer these symptoms are able to develop, the more severe they will get and even the most mild steroids come with these side effects. Therefore limiting cycle lengths is the only control option women have to reduce severity of virilization. 4 weeks is a common female steroid cycle length, but some will extend this to 6 or even 8 weeks. Male cycle length often start at the 8 week mark and can extend well beyond 12 or 16 weeks.
- Some steroids should be totally avoided by female simply due to their powerful androgenic rating. Such steroids will with certainty cause such extreme virilization that they hold no benefit for female users. Males on the other hand will not have to worry about these limitations.
- Men can usually stack multiple steroids together with success, but if women stack steroids it will multiply the virilization side effects as the androgenic properties compound together. Certainly, beginner users should not even consider taking more than one steroid at a time. Advanced female users can and do stack compounds but one must be even more vigilant in recognizing and mitigating side effects.
- Male users will see testosterone suppression ranging from mild to severe, so usually have to include a testosterone steroid in the cycle to maintain normal function. This is obviously not an issue for females so an additional steroid compound not related to performance outcomes is not necessary. Additionally, women won’t need to worry about post cycle therapy.
Female steroid users will mostly be limited to only certain steroid compounds, will use them at much lower doses, and will limit the length of cycles to minimize the development of virilizing effects.
The Best (and Worst) Anabolic Steroids for Women
Some steroid compounds are far too powerful in their androgenic properties to ever be of use to females. Any positive benefits of such compounds would be significantly overshadowed by the severe side effects they bring to a female. Therefore, most women steroid users will always avoid the most powerful compounds with very high androgenic ratings such as Dianabol and Trenbolone.
Females, like male users, will choose to use steroids for different goals so what might be the best compound (or compounds if stacking) for one purpose, is not necessarily going to be the most ideal for other goals.
Common purposes include for bodybuilding and muscle growth, for cutting and contest prep, or for athletic and performance enhancement. Different steroids will provide different possible results and effects for each goal.
When considering the best compounds to use, females should not only think about the compound itself but also the ester attached to it. Long esters which remain in the body for longer periods of time are less than ideal for females.
If side effects do develop, they will take much longer to subside than if a short estered compound were taken. Enanthate, decanoate and cypionate are three esters which are best avoided by females.
So which steroids could be considered the best or most appropriate for women? Mostly they will fall into the category of the more mild compounds; those with a lower ratio of anabolic to androgenic effects.
All steroids have some androgenic effect, so there is no escaping this aspect for female users. But by using compounds with relatively mild androgenic properties, women can reduce the severity of virilization side effects.
The Best Steroids for Female Users
Anavar, Winstrol and Primobolan
Two of the very best steroids for females are Anavar and Winstrol. These are both oral steroids with relatively low anabolic to androgenic rations and so can be tolerated much better by female users than many other compounds.
Dosages still must be kept low and duration no more than 8 weeks maximum; however 4 or 6 weeks is considered more than enough for most people.
Anavar and Winstrol will provide females with good muscle gain, strength and muscle hardness. Both also have short half lives so clear the body quickly, meaning side effects will subside fast as the steroid clears the body and usage is stopped.
Women who are keen to go further into the world of injectable steroids can consider Primobolan Depot, especially where the goal is cutting or contest prep and retaining lean mass is desirable. Primo, Anavar and Winstrol can be considered three of the best anabolic steroids for women.
Equipoise (Boldenone undecylenate)
Equipoise (Boldenone undecylenate) is another compound women may choose to use and this is an injectable steroid so does not come with the possible liver toxicity risk.
Females often see very good results with EQ and often the side effects are not as severe as with other compounds. It has a relatively low androgenic rating but like all steroids for women, must be used at a lower dose or side effects will rear their head early in the cycle.
One downside of Equipoise for women is its longer half life compared with oral steroids, having a half life of about 14 days; this means if side effects do occur, they will take longer to subside as the steroid takes longer to leave the body.
Clenbuterol is another viable option for females, however this is not technically an anabolic steroid despite being used in similar ways and having similar properties. It is highly useful for weight loss and fat burning as it boosts the metabolism and assists in retaining muscle mass.
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The Worst Steroids for Females
When it comes to the worst steroids for women to use, these are the ones that are so powerful androgenically that they are certain to cause severe development of masculine features; for this reason we consider the worst steroids for females to use to include Trenbolone, Dianabol and Anadrol.
Testosterone itself is also not ideal for women unless they are hardcore bodybuilders and are more concerned about making gains than the certain severe side effects that will come with its use.
Examples of Female Steroid Cycles
Once a female has decided on which steroid compound to use, or multiple compounds if a stack is preferred, it’s time to work out an appropriate cycle that will strike a balance between gaining the desired positive effects with mitigating the certain side effects that will also be part of steroid use.
Every woman will have a different level of tolerance as far as how much negative effect she is willing to deal with. The most hardcore female bodybuilders will have high tolerance for more severe side effects, and may not even be overly bothered with this.
But for many other women, suppressing any male characteristic development as much as possible will be a high priority during the cycle. This is where getting the dosage right can make all the difference and so too will minimizing cycle length.
Here are some basic examples of female steroid cycles. Each of these cycles are limited to a length of 4-6 weeks and consist of just one steroid compound per cycle.
- Anavar – 5-10mg per day for 4-6 weeks
- Winstrol Oral – 5-10mg per day for 4-6 weeks
- Primobolan – 30-50mg per day for 4-6 weeks
- Equipoise – 50-75mg per week for 4-6 weeks
- Winstrol Depot (injectable) – 60mg weekly for 4-6 weeks (ideally taken at 15mg once every two days)
As we can see, female steroid cycles are straightforward and quite simple compared with some of the cycles that male users formulate which often involve multiple compounds, pyramid style dosing, and much longer lengths of the cycle.
For women who are confident enough with their previous steroid experience and feel ready to combine more than one steroid in a cycle, a more advanced cycle can be undertaken. This cycle is aimed particularly at cutting or fat loss, and is useful for contest prep where attaining a very lean and hard physique is the goal.
- Advanced cycle #1: Clenbuterol at 20mcg every two days for 7 weeks, and Anavar at 10mg daily for the first 6 weeks.
- Advanced cycle #2: Anavar at 10mg daily, Clenbuterol at 20-80mcg daily, Cytomel at 25-50mcg daily for a total of 8 weeks.
The addition of the thyroid hormone Cytomel in this advanced cycle is to assist in regulation of metabolism and energy and is sometimes used by male users to aid in cutting and fat loss.
These much longer advanced cycles that stack multiple steroids are just that: advanced cycles. Females who develop virilization are always advised to stop use immediately so those effects can subside and disappear.
The above examples are a guide only, and users are encouraged to formulate her own cycle plan, including modifying dosages and the cycle length within the limits you are comfortable with.
Post Cycle Therapy for Women
The purpose of PCT for male steroid users is to stimulate the production of normal testosterone function after it has been suppressed by the steroid hormones. Clearly this is not an issue that women face.
But do female steroid users still need to implement some form of post cycle therapy, or is it OK to just stop using steroids? There is no research to back up any claim that women need to do PCT following a steroid cycle and it is unlikely women steroid users undertaken PCT.
The drugs used in PCT are mostly anti-breast cancer drugs – drugs that women with cancer take. Healthy females taking these drugs does not make much sense at all, and will likely be harmful as they are anti-estrogenic in nature and will bring about additional disruption to the hormone balance.
None of these male PCT drugs should be used by female steroid users. The consensus is that female users recover best from a steroid cycle by simply stopping the cycle and continuing to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime.
Since most female users will be using fast acting and short half life compounds that leave the system quickly, any side effects that have developed will begin subsiding relatively quickly after a cycle provided they have been not been allowed to develop over a long term of heavy steroid use. The lack of PCT requirement for females is one advantage women have over men when it comes to steroid use.
Possible Side Effects and Dangers
Male users of steroids have to deal with some pretty intense and sometimes serious side effects. So as we’d expect, female users will have a different level of side effects to face when choosing to use anabolic steroids.
Because steroids are basically male hormones (testosterone or similar), they are going to cause drastic changes to the entire way a woman’s body works. Females simply are not accustomed to having excess male hormone circulating.
Just like male steroid users, females will also see different side effect risk levels between different compounds. Some are considered more “female friendly” than others; but this doesn’t mean there won’t be any side effects. Even at very low doses virtually any anabolic steroid can bring about unwanted effects in women.
The key in most cases is not only to keep the dose low, but the length of the cycle short to prevent undesirable effects from being allowed to continue to develop.
The most concerning effect for most women is virilization, or the development of male characteristics. This is what the testosterone hormone and other similar hormones that drastically increase male androgens do to the female body. This masculine trait development can include:
- Deepening of the voice
- Growth of hair on the face and body
- Enlargement of the clitoris
- Hardening or roughness of the skin
Additionally, females who continue using higher doses and longer cycles of strong androgens as anabolic steroids being losing some feminine characteristics. Namely:
- The breasts can reduce in size.
- Menstrual cycles can change or stop. This usually returns to normal when the steroids are stopped.
These effects come about due to the way androgens affect the body as well as when estrogen function is altered.
Steroids which have more powerful androgenic properties will clearly be the steroids that will cause virilization faster and more severely than steroids that have a lower androgenic rating.
Some steroids are completely off limits to females for this reason; they are simply too androgenically powerful to be of any positive benefit to women.
There are other serious side effects women need to be aware of when considering steroid use. Some of these are the same as the risks men face. These include:
- Birth defects: pregnant women must never touch anabolic steroids as they will bring about severe birth defects in the fetus.
- Liver toxicity: if a steroid is liver toxic to male users, the same risk applies to females.
- Raised cholesterol: steroids that are known to raise cholesterol in men can pose the same risk to women depending on the particular compound and dosage taken.
The lack of research into adverse effects of steroids on women means it is not possible to fully understand the risks to the cardiovascular system or the liver, but users should proceed with the assumption that there is a potential for these critical body systems to be negatively impacted by ongoing steroid use.
What are the side effects of anabolic steroid use in women?
Anabolic steroids come with many side effect risks for females. It is almost impossible for a woman to avoid side effects when using steroids even at low doses, although some compounds are much more tolerable than others.
The main side effects females must watch out for are those of a virilizing nature: a deeper voice, increased body and facial hair growth, oilier or hardened skin, enlargement of the clitoris, and menstruation irregularities just to name a few.
Why do women use anabolic steroids?
Women choose to use steroids for many of the same reasons that men do: to build muscle, to tone and harden the body, to prepare for competitions, to lose fat, and to enhance performance and strength.
Some women have just one specific goal, while others might choose compounds that can deliver in multiple areas. Athletes, bodybuilders and physique competitors are all categories of women who may choose to use anabolic steroids.
Can steroids help women with weight loss?
Most anabolic steroids will make it much more efficient for women to burn fat. Cutting and fat loss is a main reason females might choose to use steroids. By promoting lean muscle gain, fat loss becomes faster which makes steroids a useful tool for competitions where the user want to obtain the most lean, toned physique with minimal body fat within a short period of time. However steroids alone don’t burn fat; the user must be engaging in consistent and intensive fat burning exercise as well as eating a diet that provides enough energy while still being a calorie deficit diet for fat loss.
Do steroids make women’s breast bigger?
Anabolic steroids reduce a woman’s femininity. So rather than breasts becoming bigger, they are likely to shrink. This atrophy of the breast tissue is the opposite and unrelated effect to what happens to some male users of some steroids which can cause breast tissue enlargement. This decrease in breast size is just one of the side effects that anabolic steroids will bring about for female users.
Do steroids make women’s voices deeper?
Anabolic steroids can bring about the development of masculine features in women, with one of those being a deeper voice. Testosterone is responsible for the deepening of the voice in males once they reach puberty, so when a woman takes synthetic testosterone or testosterone-derived hormones in the form of anabolic steroids, her voice will gradually become more lower pitched and take on a husky type tone.
The main cause of the deepened voice is due to vocal fold thickening, where physical changes in the vocal anatomy take place due to the presence of testosterone. This particular side effect is often reported as being more longer lasting than other virilization effects.
One study tracked a female steroid user for 20 years after she had ceased using steroids following just a 6 week cycle, where she developed a deep voice and anatomical changes that lasted for many years and required surgery to reverse the voice back to a more feminine state.
Can steroids affect female fertility?
Anabolic steroids can have an extremely concerning effect on a woman’s reproductive system and function. This can start with the interruption of normal menstrual function, the severity of which will depend on each individual including age, as well as the compound and dose being taken. This in turn can lead to fertility difficulty.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months for normal menstruation to return after stopping steroids. Birth defects in the fetus is a more serious issue and women who are using steroids are instructed to never fall pregnant during this time. The developing fetus will develop virilization and abnormality of the sex organs.
Are steroids used in female crossfit?
CrossFit enthusiasts might often note just how strong and ripped the women often look. Are these professional athletes entirely natural or are they using steroids or other substances for a performance and growth boost? Like all sports, no one will openly admit to using any PEDs in CrossFit, whether that be steroids or SARMs.
Experienced users are expert at cycling and timing the use to avoid positive drug test results; therefore the use of steroids in CrossFit is likely to remain firmly as gossip unless or until anyone tests positive.
The two main reasons females will choose to use steroids is to enhance performance and gain muscle. Losing fat is another common goal. Women can achieve substantial muscular growth with steroid use, well beyond what is possible in the natural state.
Professional and competitive women bodybuilders may make use of powerful compounds like Anavar, Winstrol, Primobolan, and Clenbuterol with the goal often being not huge muscle gains, but rather extreme fat loss and cutting to achieve a ripped and toned look ready for a contest.
If you enjoyed this guide and would like more real, NO-BS information on cycling steroids, then pick up Straight From the Underground (my recommended underground steroid handbook). Everything in this book is based on first hand experience, not theory.