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Women and Steroids - Female AAS Research

Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, a naturally occurring male sex hormone. They not only possess an anabolic (muscle and strength building) component, but an androgenic (affecting sexual characteristics) element as well. To put it bluntly, steroids are used to make men, manlier. However, AAS use can also provide significant muscular and aesthetic benefits for female users. This segment will explore some of the reasons AAS interest women, as well as: the efficacy of female usage; related benefits and side effects; the best compounds and dosages as well as; other information those considering usage will find invaluable.

One of the most prevalent questions in many steroid forums is, "Is it possible that I'm a steroid non-responder?" This question is the direct result of a lack of user knowledge. Hormones, regardless of type, are chemical messengers that deliver very specific activity determining signals. These constant signals are precisely en- and decoded by various receptor cells throughout the body. As long as certain variables are properly aligned, the correct administration of anabolic steroids will effectively elicit a muscle building response. And therein lays the real question, “What are these variables, and how does one go about aligning them properly?”

Steroid injection

CHECKLIST FOR PROPER STEROID ADMINISTRATION

STEROIDS + KNOWLEDGE = RESULTS Appropriate steroid administration includes using the proper goal-oriented compound(s), dosage(s), timing & duration (SEE BELOW: "Best AAS for Women”) Appropriate muscle fiber breakdown includes lifting heavy, effectively, and regularly (SEE WEIGHT TRAINING: " Muscle

  • Proper amounts of rest and recuperation (SEE WEIGHT TRAINING: “Developing A Program” and “Overtraining”)
  • Appropriately increased protein consumption (SEE BASICS OF NUTRITION: "How to Eat and Train for Muscle")
  • Appropriately increased overall calories (SEE BASICS OF NUTRITION: "How to Eat and Train for Muscle")
  • Proper restriction of empty, junk food calories (SEE BASICS OF NUTRITION: "How to Eat and Train for Muscle")

    SOME REASONS WOMEN TAKE STEROIDS

    Although there are a variety of reasons women elect to use steroids, the following have been found to be the most significant.

    SELF-IMAGE In the words of the legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes, "Often the easy, obvious answer is also the correct one.", thus many women take steroids to become more attractive and to exert greater sex appeal. Another reason can be found in a condition known as 'muscle dysmorphia', a disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with the idea that he or she is not muscular enough. Those who suffer from this condition tend to hold delusions that they are "skinny", “fat” or "too small" when they are often possess above average musculature. Dysmorphia is sometimes referred to as ‘Bigorexia’ or ‘Reverse Anorexia Nervosa’, and is a very specific type of body dysmorphic disorder. Muscle dysmorphia is NOT a simple obsession with working out or bodybuilding. To be clinically diagnosed as muscle dysmorphic, a person must exhibit symptoms of the ‘type’ and ‘degree’ outlined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV), and not merely be overly interested in their physique or engaging in fitness behaviors that other people would consider excessive. Some of the inclusion criteria for the disorder are:

    • Constantly examining themselves in a mirror
    • Becoming overly distressed if they miss a workout session or one of their multiple daily meals
    • Becoming overly distressed if they do not receive enough protein per day in their diet
    • Taking potentially dangerous anabolic steroids
    • Neglecting jobs, relationships, or family because of excessive exercising and related habits
    • Having delusions of being underweight or below average
    VICTIMIZATION
    Surprisingly, many women use steroids because they feel like a need to protect themselves, as a result victims of rape often begin taking AAS. In a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study of women weightlifters, twice as many of those who had been raped reported using anabolic steroids and/or another purported muscle-building drug, as compared to those who had not been raped. Moreover, almost all rape victims reported a marked increase their bodybuilding activities after the attack, in belief that being bigger and stronger would discourage further attacks by making them intimidating and/or unattractive. In another study involving 75 female subjects, 10 reported being raped as their reason for using AAS to increase muscle strength and size (Gruber, Pope; 1999). The rape victims in most cases believed they would never be able to trust a man again and consequently replaced these relationships with bodybuilding activities. Of the 10 admitted rape victims, 5 said that prior to the experience they had no intention of ever using steroids, and believed they were a sign of weakness and an unwillingness to achieve goals through hard work.

    COMPETITION
    Of course AAS provide tremendous performance enhancement benefits, and though men garner the bulk of such scandals, professional and amateur female athletes also administer steroids for this purpose. Numerous female athletes secretly employ AAS as a way of enhancing their overall performance, but one arena in which this usage is not so secret is that of competitive bodybuilding. Anyone viewing an upper level competition will immediately and accurately infer that these women are using anabolic steroids. However, there has been substantial decline in the interest of female bodybuilding, in lieu of the increased attention to women’s fitness and figure competitions. Although the extreme mass and muscularity of men is largely viewed as a great spectacle, the trend for women has become one of balance between muscularity and femininity. But make no mistake, these less than gargantuan physiques are still quite often steroidally enhanced, albeit specifically tempered with the proper AAS compounds, dosages, diets and training regimens (all to be discussed later).

    PREPARING FOR AAS

    It is always a good idea to work with a physician who is knowledgeable about and aware of, your steroid usage because they can provide valuable safeguards, including appropriate testing. Since this is often not the case, you should have baseline labs performed prior to beginning any AAS cycle. These tests will serve the dual purpose of checking your health, and marking the desired points for returning to normalcy after steroid discontinuation. Labs can include a variety of measures, but be sure to log the liver profile, lipid screen, T3, T4, estrogen & testosterone levels and ratio, as well as baseline heart rate and blood pressure readings.

    Reproductive system functioning can be a major concern, as AAS typically impact the menstrual cycle. Changes can vary from minor menstrual irregularities (i.e. inconsistent days, variable heaviness, periodic spotting, etc.) to the complete absence of menstruation for several months, depending on the steroid types, dosages and durations. The charting of menstruation details for a couple months prior to administering AAS is also a good idea for noting normalcy.

    THE BENEFITS OF USING AAS

    As you'd probably expect, women receive many of the same physical, physiological and psychological benefits as men which typically include:

    • increase in lean muscle mass
    • increased strength
    • reduced body fat
    • improved athletic performance
    • sense of euphoria & well-being
    • heightened self-esteem
    • greater energy levels
    • less vulnerability
    • greater sexual attractiveness or intimidation (depending on goals)
    • heightened sexual arousal
    • improved oxygen utilization for greater endurance & quicker recovery
    • increased protein synthesis and decreased nitrogen excretion

    “Overall, a woman will experience an increase in leanness, muscle definition, muscle mass, weight, and strength. The effectiveness of training will become better for she will have an improved recovery rate. She will become more aggressive, have a heightened sexual drive and a better self-esteem. But there is more to using anabolic steroids than just appearing to be the person you have always imagined yourself to be.”
    - Strauss, Liggett, Lanese; 1985

    POSSIBLE STEROID SIDE EFFECTS

    In biology and medicine, ‘Virilization’ refers to the development of secondary changes, or a set of anatomical structures and features unique to males and females that are not directly related (and therefore secondary) to the production of sex cells. Most virilization is produced by androgens - any natural or synthetic compound (including steroids) that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. Some negative side effects are permanent and others go away when the drug is discontinued. When it comes to the severity of negative side effects, the type, dosage and duration of AAS play significant roles. The proper management of these variables can lead to satisfyingly successful cycles.

    The preponderance of research indicates that unlike male users who experience only a few (if any) of the numerous possible steroid side effects, women (with their estrogen-based endocrine/pituitary systems) are far likelier to experience more of the following associated side effects:

    • deepening of the voice
    • breast tissue atrophy (shrinking)
    • increased body hair, including the growth of dark facial hair
    • loss of scalp hair
    • jaundice (yellow tinge to eyes and skin)
    • Liver values that are higher than the upper limits of normalcy
    • oily skin (acne, facial pore enlargement)
    • clitoral enlargement
    • enlargement of the heart
    • increased aggression
    • depression & listlessness
    • loss of appetite
    • feelings of anxiety
    • abnormal heart rhythms
    • drug-specific weakening of the tendons and ligaments
    • decreased estrogen & progesterone activity
    • menstrual irregularities (i.e. inconsistent days, variable heaviness, periodic spotting, etc.)

    HOW TO USE STEROIDS

    Most of the women reading this article are probably doing so for figure and/or fitness enhancement, but regardless of the 'WHY' this section will provide the 'HOW', how that is to improve your quality of life through the safe and proper administration of AAS.

    BACKGROUND
    Permit me to begin by imparting some fundamental knowledge:

    • Steroids are not quick fixes, in the sense that they do not yield expected results when merely taken several days before an event (reunion, wedding, vacation, etc.). Instead AAS are appropriately taken in what are called 'cycles'.
    • Steroid Cycle - specific steroidal dosages taken at timed intervals on specific daily, multi-daily, or weekly regimens for a predetermined (although adjustable) number of weeks or months.
    • The amount and duration of steroid use is not determined by biographical data (height, weight, age, etc.), nor does a minor or moderate change in dosage dictate cycle length. This is the reasoning of a supplement taker, a good one, but one nonetheless. Steroid logic requires a paradigm shift, because hormones don't work like supplements. Cycle durations and dosages are reflective of potential growth periods, physiological recovery issues, and the harshness of a compound’s effects on the body.
    • Steroid Stack/Cocktail - the simultaneous use of more than one form or type of AAS within a cycle, often combining orals and injectables. This is done to magnify the properties of a compound, or to benefit from the positive characteristics of each drug (and sometimes to minimize the negative effects of one or more), thus synergistically improving the overall cycle.
    • Steroids build muscle, and are not for weight loss purposes. If losing extra pounds and toning up is your goal, then changes in diet, exercise and supplementation are in order. Steroids, even the mildest of them, are muscle builders and muscle due primarily to its greater density is heavy and will invariably increase your weight.
    • Steroids should be considered when you have worked out for at least two years ormore, and have developed a solid muscular foundation then any gains made through steroid usage, will be pure muscle, and your hard earned money will not be wasted. With regard to aesthetics, your body fat should also be relatively low prior to steroid administration. This will permit the drugs to have a more profound cosmetic effect, because your muscle and form will be less likely blurred by excessive subcutaneous (beneath the skin) fat.
    • There’s no need to taper steroids cycles up or down This method of cycling was once quite common, but later medically proven to be unnecessary. When the cycle is over simply discontinuing the usage of all compounds is sufficient.

    BEST AAS FOR WOMEN

    Go to fullsize image AnavarConventional wisdom holds that only a couple of select oral steroids should be recommended as safe for female usage. This conclusion is primarily based on said oral's inherently low anabolic/androgenic ratios and mild to moderate liver toxicity, which is also why actual Testosterone esters should never be used by women (who aren’t bodybuilders). Whenever a dosage seems too high, as evidenced by unacceptable or intolerable side effects, its immediate reduction typically corrects the problem. It should also be noted that like all goods and services, prices and availability will vary. Anavar (Oxandrolone), though a perennial favorite among steroid users is often nearly twice as expensive as Winstrol (Stanozolol or Stanabol) another favorite. Here are some proven steroid protocols and their resulting effects:

    COMPOUND

    DOSAGE

    DURATION

    PROPERTIES

    COMMON SIDE EFFECTS

    ANAVAR

    Beginner

    10mgs/a day

    8wks

    Muscle gain; increased strength, hardness,

    Possible gastro discomfort, decreased libido

    Advanced

    10 - 20mgs/a day

    8 - 12wks

    pump, stamina, vascularity & fat loss.

    and acne.

    WINSTROL

    Beginner

    10mgs/a day

    8wks

    Slight muscle gain; increased

    Possible hair loss or thinning, joint pain

    Advanced

    10 - 20mgs/a day

    8 - 12wks

    strength & hardness.

    and acne.

    As stated earlier, there is no need to taper steroid usage. All drugs have half-lives, the amount of time it takes for one half of the drug to evacuate the body via the three methods of absorption, degradation and elimination. How the drug is administered (frequency) should always be based on its half-life. For example both Winstrol and Anavar have short half-lives lasting less than half a day. To keep the blood serum levels of these drugs high (for optimal effect) each should be taken twice daily. For example:

    • Anavar (beginner) 10mgs/a day until cycle termination (10-12 hrs apart; e.g. 5mgs twice a day at 8am & 8pm )
    • Winstrol (advanced) 20mgs/a day until cycle termination (10-12 hrs apart; e.g. 10mgs twice a day at 6am & 6pm )

    Experimentation is important because of the varying effects of different hormones. Below is an illustration of a steroid cycle in the form of a stack or cocktail. As mentioned earlier, users exercise such protocols to enhance their results by exploiting the synergy of two or more compounds. Stacks also minimize side effects, by reducing the amount of harsher compounds while using the same or greater total AAS milligrams. For instance, Winstrol can be hard on the joints and hair, but when combined with the milder Anavar (as in the example below) this risk is significantly reduced, while additional Anavar benefits can be simultaneously realized at the very same desired 10mg AAS dosage.

    WEEK OF

    WINSTROL

    ANAVAR

    1

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    2

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    3

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    4

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    5

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    6

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    7

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    8

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    9

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    10

    5 mgs/week

    5 mgs/week

    Orals are a good choice for the needle phobic, but if you don’t mind shots Primobolan Depot (Methenolone Enanthate) is a great option. This hormone is primarily used for gaining and preserving lean muscle tissue. The reason Primo is so effective in these areas has to do with its ability to augment nitrogen retention. As a result of this property, many competitors have successfully used Primo to retain muscle during calorie restrictive pre-contest dieting. Unfortunately, Primo comes with two rather daunting caveats: 1) it is a very expensive chemical to obtain, a price which is usually reflected in the cost to the average consumer and; 2) it is one of the most commonly counterfeited steroids on the black market. Nevertheless, if attained this steroid is well worth the effort.

    IF TEST…THEN PROP! Image Preview The dangers of exogenous testosterone within the female body cannot be overstated! But since there will always be those who go AMA (Against Medical Advice), if you must experiment with Test be sure to make your choice Testosterone Propionate. This would be the only choice for women who simply must try testosterone for one all important reason. Should adverse side effects become problematic or otherwise intolerable the propionate ester will rapidly vacate the body, and hopefully completely reverse any negative effects or conditions.

    Prop should be injected everyday or every other day and appropriately divided according to the desired total weekly dosage. A cycle using this hormone should run for a minimum of 6 weeks. The most pronounced negative side effects include: clitoral enlargement; excessive facial & body hair; deepening of voice; oily skin; menstrual abnormalities; hair loss or thinning; depression, confusion and; acne on the face, back or shoulders. It is very important to monitor oneself closely while using a hormone as androgenically potent as testosterone.

    FEMALE AAS RESEARCH - The media and naysayers have been rejecting steroids since the 1930's, publically spouting negative propaganda, while privately marveling at the wondrous physiques and feats of athleticism and strength it produced. Since women are a relatively new addition to the steroid scene, and due to the obvious ethical issues surrounding the perceived potential for harm, there are very few medical journal studies relating to the effects of anabolic steroids on female subjects. Sadly, the studies which do exist, serve only to complicate matters by often using small sample sizes, and insubstantial control and placebo groups that yield largely inconclusive results.

    Studies published to date on androgen replacement therapy in women do not indicate detrimental effects on body composition, lipids or vascular function. The key words here are " replacement therapy". Testosterone derivatives have been developed for clinical hormonal replacement therapy in men. Thus, few forms of AAS are approved for women because the pharmokentics (the study of the action or effects of drugs on human beings) and efficacy of usage on women have not been well researched. Therefore, very little is actually known and published about the short- and long-term effects of non-medicinal AAS usage regarding women. Consequently, even less is clear regarding the supraphysiological (amounts greater than normally found in the body) doses which female bodybuilders, competitors and recreational users have been known to administer.

    Although interpolation has been used, the research conducted on male users can't possibly be accurately correlated to females when there are virtually no grounds for comparison. Consequently, the alleged research-based information concerning the adverse physiological, physical, behavioral, and psychological effects of low dosage supraphysiological AAS on women is at best inaccurate, and at worst wildly speculative.

    REFERENCES Amoko et al. "Effect of static stretching on prevention of injuries for military recruits." Mil Med. 2003 Jun; 168(6):442-6.

    Bahrke, M.S., Yesalis, C.E., and Wright, J.E. Psychological and behavioral effects of endogenous testosterone and anabolic-androgenic steroids: an update. Sports Medicine 22(6): 367-390, 1996.

    Gruber, A.J., Pope, H.G. Jr. (1999) Compulsive weight lifting and anabolic drug abuse among women rape victims. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 40, 273-277

    Gruber, A.J., and Pope, H.G., Jr. Psychiatric and medical effects of anabolic-androgenic steroid use in women. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 69: 19-26, 2000.

    Hughes, T.K. Jr., Rady, P.L., Smith, E.M. (1998) Potential for the effects of anabolic steroid abuse in the immune and neuroendocrine axis. Journal of
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    Lally D. 'New Study Links Stretching with Higher Injury Rates', Running Research News, Vol. 10(3), pp. 5-6, 1994

    Malarkey, W.B., Strauss, R.H., Leizman, D.J., Liggett, M., Demers, L.M. (1991) Endocrine effects in female weight lifters who self-administer testosterone and
    anabolic steroids. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 1385-1390

    Porcerelli, J.H., and Sandler, B.A. Anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse and psychopathology. PsychiatricClinics of North America 21(4): 829-833, 1998.

    Porcerelli, J.H., and Sandler, B.A. Narcissism and empathy in steroid users. American Journal

    Research Report Series - Anabolic Steroid Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse

    Strauss, R.H., Liggett, M.T., Lanese, R.R. (1985) Anabolic steroids use and perceived effects in ten weight-trained women athletes. JAMA, 253, 2871-2873

    Sutton, L. ANABOLIC STEROIDS: Not Just For Men Anymore. Vanderbilt University

    Thacker et al. "The Impact of Stretching on Sports Injury Risk: A Systematic Review of the Literature". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36(3):371-378, March 2004.

    van Mechelen W, Hlobil H, Kemper HCG, et al. Prevention of running injuries by warm-up, cool-down, and stretching exercises. Am J Sports Med 1993;21:711–19.

    Yesalis, C.E., Kennedy , N.J. , Kopstein, A.N., and Bahrke, M.S. Anabolic-androgenic steroid use in the United States . Journal of the American Medical Association 270(10): 1217-1221, 1993.

    INTERNET RESOURCES Carol Semple – Ms. Fitness Olympia




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