Use of IPEDs amongst women is usually very different to use amongst males. Women who use anabolic steroids for instance; will often use a smaller range of drugs and at much lower doses than males. Women are also the primary target audience for products such as fat-burners; although these products are also used by males.

Women choosing to use anabolic steroids need to be aware that some possible side-effects are potentially much more serious than in males. Whilst both men and women can experience many of the same side-effects (such as cardiovascular problems, raised LDL cholesterol, etc), most of the side-effects males experience are potentially reversible given sufficient time off from steroid use (and in some cases further drug therapy), although they may suffer ill-health whilst they recover. However; for women, some of the side-effects are not reversible.

If you look at pictures of female bodybuilders you may notice that some have very masculine facial features. This is the result of a process called ‘virilisation‘; the development of male physical characteristics in women, such as:

  • Deepening of the voice
  • Increased facial and body hair
  • Increased strength and/or musculature
  • Thinning of the hair on the head
  • Clitoral enlargement
  • Disruptions to the menstrual cycle

The use of anabolic steroids can also lead to reproductive system dysfunction; so women who are planning to have children in the future need to be aware of this fact and perhaps leave the use of anabolic steroids until later in life. Most of these symptoms are irreversible once they have established themselves properly. It is not possible to say how long that takes, or at what dose/length of cycle as there can be a substantial difference in individual responses to these drugs.

All of these side-effects are caused by an increase in testosterone levels, well above the normal range for women. Certain steroids are more likely to cause these effects than others. Typically, steroids that have a high androgenic ratio are more likely to cause these effects. The same steroids are also more likely to cause side-effects in males, such as gynaecomastia (the development of breasts in males). This includes all injectable testosterones, nandrolones and many oral products such as Dianabol and Anapolan. It is wise to research the drug you are planning to take carefully. If the drug is known as being highly androgenic then you should expect more side-effects.

Some anabolic steroids, such as Anavar (an oral steroid), have a reputation for having a lesser virilising effect, especially at the much smaller doses that women typically use. However; it is important to note that they can still have that effect if used at a high enough dose, or for too long. It is also important to note that some people are just extremely sensitive to certain drugs, no matter what dose is used and may therefore respond badly.


Even if you choose to use a drug that has a reputation for having less side-effects; there are many fake anabolic steroids on the market, some of which may actually contain a steroid, but not necessarily the steroid described on the label. It is therefore possible that you may end up taking a steroid that leads to significant side-effects and may not realise until the side-effects have properly established themselves. The quality of publicly available IPEDs varies significantly and it is not possible to test them easily. No matter how reliable you think your source is; it is always worth proceeding with caution and watching for unwanted side-effects. If you notice anything developing that doesn’t feel right, it is advisable to stop using that drug immediately. If you catch symptoms early enough, you may escape more serious side-effects.

The decision to use anabolic steroids and other IPEDs should never be taken lightly; these are powerful drugs with potentially far-reaching consequences. However, for women, the consequences are potentially more serious and long-term than for males. It is extremely important that you understand as much as possible about the specific drugs you are thinking of using before taking them. If at all possible; talk to other women who have used the same drug. Whilst your experience may not be exactly the same as theirs, it may give you some idea of what to expect.

Injecting carries several risks, both from the process and from the drugs themselves. It is important to be aware of these risks before attempting to inject any substance.

© 2019 Public Health Wales | Iechyd Cyhoeddus
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Injecting carries several risks, both from the process and from the drugs themselves. It is important to be aware of these risks before attempting to inject any substance.

© 2018
Public Health Wales | Iechyd Cyhoeddus
Privacy Notice