Both men and women can use steroids to take their workout to the next level and pack on the muscle mass they want. However, they can have very different effects on men and women so it’s important to understand exactly what you should be expecting (and watching out for) depending on your sex.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different effects that steroids can have for both men and women so that you can have a better understanding of what kind of changes your body might undergo.
Steroids And Muscle Building in Men And Women
The primary goal of using steroids whether male or female is to build muscle—unless you are using them because you were prescribed steroids by a doctor for a special medical condition.
And muscle building will be an effect of steroids in both men and women. However, where men need a minimum of about 250 mg per week to start seeing gains, women only need 35 mg per week to start seeing gains.
Moreover, women do not need nearly as high doses as men no matter what stage of training they are in. Even the most advanced female bodybuilder should avoid going over 350 mg per week. And the cycles should be much shorter. Men typically do cycles of about 12 weeks whereas women are advised to stick to shorter cycles of 4 weeks (maxing out at 8 weeks).
Side Effects of Steroids in Men
In men, the side effects that you need to be on the lookout for include:
- Liver damage. This is especially true if you are taking steroids in the form of pills or tablets.
- Increased blood pressure. If you already have a problem with high blood pressure, this is something you’ll need to keep close tabs on.
- Increased cholesterol. Just as with blood pressure, if you already have a problem with high cholesterol, you’ll need to regularly test your levels to make sure you aren’t putting yourself at risk.
- Increased sexual desire.
- Increased body hair growth.
- Mood changes. Most often, there is an increase in aggression and aggressive behavior (known as “roid rage”). But depression is also fairly common.
- Decreased sperm count and infertility. If you are trying to conceive or plan to have children in the future, you may want to hold off on steroids for the time being.
- Testicular shrinkage
- Increased risk for prostate cancer
- Painful urination
- Breast development. If this side effect occurs, it is irreversible except through surgery.
Some of these effects will go away when you stop taking steroids. Others, however, are long term and do not go away even after you stop. This includes liver damage, the increased risk of cancer, breast development, and testicular shrinkage among others.
If you are injecting the steroids, you are at a heightened risk of AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases if you are not extremely careful about always using a clean, sterile needle every single time.
Side Effects of Steroids in Women
Just as with men, women will also experience:
- Liver damage
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol
- Increased sexual desire
- Increased body hair growth. While this is usually not a serious issue for men, it can be annoying for women who prefer to shave or keep body hair to a minimum
- Mood changes. As with men, this usually expresses as either (or both) aggression and depression.
In addition to these changes, there are some effects that are uniquely experienced only by women:
- Irregular or missed periods. Because steroids change your hormone balance, they often interfere with your menstrual cycle. This can be problematic if you are trying to conceive but then, if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you already shouldn’t be taking steroids.
- Deeper voice. Testosterone brings out more masculine features and this can include a deepening of your voice.
- Facial hair. Because testosterone is responsible for the more masculine traits, it also is responsible for triggering facial hair growth. You may find you have to start shaving or waxing your face.
- Enlarged clitoris
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you should not use steroids at all. They will interfere with the growth of the fetus. For women (and for men, actually), it’s advisable to wait to use steroids until after you have finished having children.
On that note, it is also important to wait to start using steroids until you are over the age of 21. Using steroids before then puts you at risk of stunting your growth as it interfere with the natural growth hormones that are already in your body.
So if you are under 21 and looking to see extreme gains, just focus on diet and weight training until you are older. After 21, you can give yourself that extra boost if you find you still need it.
As you can see, there are some effects that you will see whether you are male or female but there are certain effects that uniquely effect one sex more than the other (and some effects that are a greater concern to one sex more than the other). Knowing what changes you can expect in your body will make you much more prepared and better informed as you consider whether or not steroids are the right choice for you.