Introduction to Female Steroid Cycles
Anabolic steroid use where females are concerned is a very seldom touched upon topic within the anabolic steroid using community. This is because the majority of anabolic steroid users land in the male gender category, as well as the fact that almost all of the clinical data in regards to anabolic steroid use in females is in reference to the medical applications, which in and of itself is very different from the use of anabolic steroids for the purpose of performance and physique enhancement. This particular section of this article is by no means designed to be a comprehensive guide to female anabolic steroid use. Instead, only the most immediate concerns and topics in regards to proper female steroid cycles will be covered.
The majority of the questions, concerns, and issues where female use is concerned will be explored upon in a later article. For the time being, the considerations as to the potential side effects in female anabolic steroid users can easily be accessed by reading a comprehensive article on anabolic steroid side effects in general, which would include the potential side effects for female users.
When female anabolic steroid stacks are considered, there are vast differences to be understood and considered in comparison to the average anabolic steroid cycle, which almost always is structured and designed for male users. The fact is that the majority of anabolic steroid use information, cycle protocols, PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) considerations, and many more common guidelines simply do not apply to female anabolic steroid users.
In summary, there are various advantages that female anabolic steroid users hold over male users, and there are various advantages that male users hold over female users. There also exist disadvantages that are different pertaining to both genders. These must be understood first.
The following are to be covered in this section:
1. Preliminary considerations for female users.
2. Differences in anabolic steroid usage protocols between male and female users.
3. Anabolic steroids considered suitable and low-risk for female anabolic steroid cycles.
4. Anabolic steroids considered to be unsuitable and of considerably higher-risk for females.
5. Compounds that should not be utilized by females.
6. Examples of female anabolic steroid cycles.
Preliminary Considerations for Female Anabolic Steroid Users
Assuming the majority of preliminary considerations for all users have been noted (listed in the introduction of this article), the preliminary considerations for female anabolic steroid users is for the most part very straightforward and short in its explanation.
All female anabolic steroid users must understand the base fundamentals of what they are doing with their bodies: Anabolic androgenic steroids are synthetic analogues and derivatives of the male hormone Testosterone (or simply Testosterone itself). As stated, this is the male sex hormone, and females engaging in steroid stacks are simply inserting Testosterone (or related analogues) into themselves in an effort to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat levels. Using common sense, any female understanding this will realize the potential for the development of male secondary sex characteristics (properly known as virilization). Virilization effects can include the development of male secondary sex characteristics (deepening of the voice, growth of body and facial hair), clitoral enlargement, and menstrual irregularities. It is also strongly advised to abstain from anabolic steroid cycles during pregnancy, as this is a particularly important hormonal period for the development of a fetus, and the inclusion of supraphysiological levels of androgens have been linked to birth defects in newborn babies.
It is also necessary to gain a proper understanding of which anabolic steroids are suitable, which are less suitable, and which should be not used under any but the most essential circumstances. These details will be covered shortly.
Differences Between Male and Female Anabolic Steroid Cycle Protocols
1. Testosterone is not necessary for use in female cycles: The male physiological levels of endogenously manufactured Testosterone are not necessary for the survival or well-being of females. As mentioned prior, this is one of the several guidelines that can be circumvented by female users, and can essentially ‘get away with’, whereas men cannot. It should be common knowledge that the female body does not manufacture anywhere near the amount that the male human body does, and females therefore only require very minor amounts of Testosterone necessary for vital proper physiological function. Female endogenous production of Testosterone is approximately that of 1/10th of a male human body’s endogenous production. Testosterone in females is manufactured primarily by the adrenal glands, rather than the testes (organs that females do not possess).
It is not only unnecessary for females to utilize Testosterone but it is also in fact highly advised that female anabolic steroid users abstain from the use of Testosterone due to its very strong androgenic strength rating, which would provide pronounced virilization issues. However, there are female anabolic steroid users that do wish to engage in the use of stronger androgens such as Testosterone or Trenbolone, and this may be the result of the female not caring as to whether or not they experience virilization as a result. In such a case, it is a personal decision based upon personal values and goals. However, for the average female that does not wish to transform into a male, it is advised to stay away from the strong androgens such as Testosterone.
2. There is no post cycle therapy (PCT) required following a female anabolic cycle. Once again, the purpose of a PCT is that of the restoration of natural function of endogenous Testosterone production and HPTA function in males. This is unnecessary in female anabolic steroid users. Females do not possess testicles, and therefore are not necessary for vital female physiological function. PCT as a result is unnecessary, whereas for male users it is absolutely vital for the proper restoration of endogenous natural hormonal function.
3. Cycle lengths must be kept very short so as to avoid virilization symptoms. Just as how female users should avoid very strong androgenic anabolic steroids, cycle lengths must not exceed particular lengths due to the fact that as duration of use increases, the potential and severity of virilization and masculinizing effects so too increases. Ideally, female steroid cycle lengths should be no longer than 4 weeks at a time. Should any female anabolic steroid users experience the beginnings of any virilization symptoms prior to the 4 week mark (cracking/deepening of the voice, growth of bodily/facial hair, etc.) all administration of anabolic steroids should be halted immediately.
4. Anabolic steroid stacks and combinations must be avoided at all costs unless absolutely necessary. This is mostly self-explanatory, as the combination and stacking of two or more anabolic steroids will result in a compounding of androgenic effects, leading to rapid onset of virilization, and more severe virilization symptoms. Unless absolutely necessary, such as the case of female competitive bodybuilders, stacking should be avoided at all costs unless deemed absolutely necessary.
5. While male anabolic steroid users must ensure proper time-off (break time, or time away from anabolic steroids) in between cycles that consists of time spent on the previous cycle and PCT length (for example, an 8 week cycle followed by a 4 week PCT would mean that time-off afterwards before the next cycle would be 3 – 4 months), females do not necessarily require this. Female anabolic steroid users may be able to take shorter breaks and time-off in between cycles, although it is advised that at least 4 – 8 weeks of sufficient time off in between cycles is adequate to ensure proper normalization of the body’s internal systems following hormone augmentation that would result in the disruption of said systems. While males must ensure proper and adequate endogenous Testosterone and HPTA recovery, females do not need to be concerned with this.
These are the primary differences between the protocols of steroid cycles in regards to male and female use.
The Best and Worst Anabolic Steroid Choices for Female Steroid Cycles
Anabolic steroids best suited for female anabolic cycles are compounds which exhibit very low androgenic strength ratings in comparison to the anabolic strength ratings. These are all often considered the ‘mild’ anabolic steroids that are so frequently discussed among the anabolic steroid using community. It must be understood, however, that although various anabolic steroids may possibly exhibit a very low threshold for androgenic effects on the body, no anabolic steroid is completely incapable of exhibiting these effects. All anabolic steroids to varying degrees exhibit androgenic effects, and thus the potential for virilization exists with all of them, no matter how ‘mild’ a particular anabolic steroid might be claimed to be.
In addition, long-estered anabolic steroids should be avoided at all costs by female users due to the fact that they exhibit a very long window of release and very long half-life. Females must be careful with such a characteristic of long-estered anabolic steroids (Enanthate, Cypionate, Decanoate, Undecylenate, etc.), as this presents difficulty in controlling blood plasma levels of the hormone. Following cessation of use, it must also be understood that the very long half-life that these particular esters provide will also translate into a very slow reduction of blood plasma levels and very slow elimination of the hormone from the body. This must always be kept in mind with female-specific use, especially when virilization symptoms appear and the hormone must be discontinued promptly.
The worst selection of anabolic steroids for females would be those that exhibit high or very high androgenic strength ratings, such as Testosterone, Dianabol, Anadrol, Trenbolone, and various others. While some females may opt to engage in the use of these heavy androgens, they do not suit the goals and preferences of most females. One must also understand that there essentially exist three different tiers of female anabolic steroid users:
– Female competitive and/or professional bodybuilders that utilize anabolic steroids
– Female fitness/figure competitors that utilize anabolic steroids
– The average female in the gym utilizing anabolic steroids to get in better shape quicker
Any reader would be able to tell the difference in the aforementioned three tiers of female anabolic steroid users, and that there are some significant differences in the goals, aspirations, and the sacrifices and risks each group of female users may (or may not) be willing to take in order to achieve their desired goals. Therefore there are vast differences between each individual’s values, priorities, and how far a female individual is willing to go in order to achieve their desired goals.
Female competitive bodybuilders: As described, these are female bodybuilders attempting to develop an extremely muscular physique far beyond any average female’s (or even many male’s) desired goals. The typical average female would regard this type of physique aspiration/goal to be ‘disgusting’. As such, female competitive bodybuilders are more likely to be willing to accept the potential heavy virilization associated the use of heavy androgens, such as Trenbolone or Testosterone. If a particular female bodybuilder believes that Trenbolone use will assist them in achieving their ultimate physique goals while ignoring/disregarding the issue of virilization, then this is their individual personal decision to do so and deal with the potential consequences of possible rapid virilization. Female bodybuilders, for the most part, possess an ‘anything goes’ attitude when it comes to the selection of anabolic steroids to utilize in a female stack.
Female fitness/figure competitors: These female athletes would be considered a step down in ranking from the previously mentioned group of female athletes. These are females that are quite obviously unwilling to venture to the same extreme as female bodybuilders. The general goal of female athletes in this case is to obtain a muscular, fit, lean, and ‘sexy’ looking physique while still retaining their femininity. In such a case, this group of female athletes would wish to avoid virilization wherever possible. Thus, the majority of female figure/fitness athletes are unwilling to enter into the risky realm of heavy androgenic anabolic steroids such as Trenbolone, Testosterone, Dianabol, and several others. The majority of these females will tend to restrict their use to the more ‘mild’ anabolic steroids such as Primobolan, Anavar, Winstrol (Stanozolol), etc. due to the fact that these exhibit weaker androgenic strength ratings in comparison to their anabolic strength capabilities. Virilization with compounds such as these is not often a problem, provided that doses and cycle lengths are modest and sensible (as previously mentioned concerning shorter cycle lengths for females).
The average female in the gym attempting to reach physique goals faster and more efficiently: following the explanation of the prior two categories of female athletes, this particular tier of female users is quite easily understood and straightforward. The average female attempting to stay in shape in the gym would be unwilling to venture anywhere close to the risks of virilization and developing male characteristics. Therefore, not only are these female users limited to the use of ‘mild’ anabolic steroids, it is at the slightest development of virilization (the slightest cracking of the voice or accelerated body/facial hair growth) that these female users would cease the use of all anabolic steroids immediately. Sensibly low doses as well as minimal cycle lengths are very common among these particular female anabolic steroid users.
The following lists are in order of the most appropriate choice of compounds to the most inappropriate (top to bottom of the lists):
LOW VIRILIZATION RISK/MILD COMPOUNDS FOR A FEMALE ANABOLIC STEROID CYCLE:
– Oral Primobolan (Methenolone Acetate)
– Anavar (Oxandrolone)
– Oral Winstrol (Stanozolol)
– Injectable Winstrol (Stanozolol)
– Injectable Primobolan (Methenolone Enanthate)
MODERATE VIRILIZATION RISK COMPOUNDS FOR A FEMALE ANABOLIC STEROID CYCLE:
– Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate)
– Nandrolone Phenylpropionate
– Masteron (Drostanolone Propionate)
– Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)
HIGH VIRILIZATION RISK COMPOUNDS FOR A FEMALE ANABOLIC STEROID CYCLE:
– Testosterone (all types, including Sustanon 250)
– Anadrol (Oxymetholone
– Dianabol (Methandrostenolone)
Female Cycle Examples
Female Cycle Example #1 (4 weeks total cycle time)
Weeks 1 – 4:
– Oral Primobolan at 30 – 50mg/day
Female Cycle Example #2 (4 weeks total cycle time)
Weeks 1 – 4:
– Anavar at 5 – 10mg/day
Female Cycle Example #3 (4 weeks total cycle time)
Weeks 1 – 4:
– Oral Winstrol at 5 – 10mg/day
Female Cycle Example #4 (4 weeks total cycle time)
Weeks 1 – 4:
– Injectable Winstrol at 15mg every other day (for a total of 60mg weekly)
Female Cycle Example #5 (4 weeks total cycle time)
Weeks 1 – 4:
– Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate) at 50 – 75mg/week
The Masculinizing Effects Associated With Anabolic Steroid Use.
The masculinizing side effects associated with female anabolic steroid use are:
- Clitoral Enlargement
- Thinning Scalp and/or Receding Hair Line
- Facial/Body Hair Growth
- Deepening of the Voice
- Menstrual Irregularities (light or missed period)
females and Anabolic Steroid (‘Androgen’) Use
All Androgens Masculinize The Female Body, Though Steroids Vary Greatly In Their Amount Of Androgenic Activity
Females who use anabolic steroids risk experiencing the irreversible masculinizing effects that androgens can produce (more information on what ‘androgens’ are and what they do can be found below).
While all anabolic steroids are androgenic, they vary greatly in androgenic potency. Because it is the androgenic effects of a steroid that cause masculinizing side effects, female steroid users [who always risk developing masculine features] have used steroids that are only mildly androgenic: E.g. Chlorodehydromethyltestosterone (Turinabol®), Stanozolol (Winstrol®), Methenolone (Primobolan®), Nandrolones (Ex. Deca-Durabolin®), Oxandrolone (Anavar®).
The use of steroids that are more androgenic than the ones listed above places the female user at an even greater risk of developing the masculine characteristics that are listed on this page. However, all anabolic steroids may cause these masculinizing changes to the female body if they are used in large enough doses or for extended periods of time.
What Are Androgens
Androgens Are Male Sex Hormones (As They Play A Role In Determining Gender, Or “Sex”)
Androgens are the body’s male sex hormones (called ‘sex’ hormones, because they play a role in developing that person’s gender, or ‘sex’). They are called ‘androgens’ because male sex hormones need to stimulate the body’s ‘androgen’ receptor to create masculine features.
If the androgen receptor is not stimulated, male sexual characteristics will not develop. Testosterone is the male body’s primary sex hormone.
In the body, testosterone is turned into the potent androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Both testosterone and DHT stimulate the androgen receptor and these two hormones are responsible for giving males their masculine characteristics.
Why Some Male Steroid Users Develop Female Characteristics
Some Steroids Are Turned Into Estrogen By The Human Body
Females are not the only gender that can take on the physical traits of their opposite gender as a result of their steroid use.
Many steroids that are commonly used by men are metabolized by the body into estrogen (or an estrogen-mimicking hormone). This is a natural process, and is actually how men produce the small amounts of estrogen that they naturally have in their bodies.
Because the presence of large amounts of estrogen in the breast will stimulate the breast tissue (male or female) to grow, men often develop small amount of tissue growth (small boobs) as a result of their steroid use. The official term for male breast tissue growth (caused by a spike in estrogen levels) is ‘gynecomastia’.
Anabolic Does Not Equal Androgenic. However…
Steroids Vary Greatly In Their Amount Of Androgenic Activity, Regardless Of Their Anabolic Effect
Technically, how anabolic a steroid is does not determine how androgenic a steroid is. Many strongly anabolic yet weakly androgenic steroids exist.
However, women who have experimented with steroids typically use them in very small doses to keep any masculinizing effects that may occur to a minimum.
Even when weakly androgenic steroids are used, the doses required to realize a dramatic gain in muscle are large enough to place the female user at great risk of developing cosmetic side effects.
Therefore, females typically use weakly androgenic steroids in small doses, causing their gains in mass and strength to be far less than that of many male steroid users.
The Importance of Androgens In Determining Sex at Birth
This Disorder Is A Fantastic Example Of The Sensitivity Of Androgens In The Human Body
Believe it or not, all human beings begin their development as females, and unless fetal testosterone is secreted, wether the fetus is genetically a boy or genetically a girl, it will develop into a girl.
Nothing illustrates this better than the genetic disorder ‘complete androgen insensitivity syndrome’. Individuals who suffer from this disease have a genetic mutation that misassembles the body’s androgen receptors, making them unusable.
These men are not able to detect the presence of androgens (e.g. testosterone) in their body. Because the testosterone they produce goes undetected, these men develop into females (the ‘default’ sex). Remember, if the androgen receptor is not stimulated, male sexual characteristics will not develop.
This disease is often discovered after the individual has grown into an adult female, gets married, and attempts to conceive.
His genetic code will have produced a shallow vagina and underdeveloped ovaries, making him unable to bear a child.
The “woman” is then asked to consider adoption and, for ethical reasons, the doctor often does not inform the wife [or the husband] that she is actually a genetic male, as this can have a negative effect on the marriage and her/his quality of life going forward.
Female Exposure To Androgens As An Adult
Masculinization Symptoms Depend On The Amount Of Androgenic Activity In The Body
As an adult (or an adolescent), a females exposure to androgens will cause her body to develop male characteristics.
These changes include clitoral enlargement, a thinning of the scalp (top of the head), and a deepening of the voice. The development of these irreversible masculinizing side effects is cumulative – women who take steroids do not develop thick coarse facial hair and an enlarged clitoris overnight.
If the offending steroid(s) are discontinued at the first sign of the development of any of the masculinizing symptoms (listed at the top of the page) then the process of masculinization will stop progressing.
Given a large enough dose, all steroids can cause the female body to masculinize. However, steroids vary greatly in their ‘androgenic’ potency, which has allowed some females to use small doses of weakly androgenic steroids without suffering significant masculinizing side effects.
Female sensitivity to the presence of androgens varies, making it not possible to assure a female user that ‘X’ amount of ‘X’ steroid will not produce any masculinizing symptoms.
While some steroids place the female user at a much greater risk than others, all females who use anabolic steroids accept the risk of developing male characteristics.
- The Estrogenic Effects Of [Some] Anabolic Steroid Use
There are only two Estrogenic Side Effects that a steroid user may experience as a result of his use of an estrogenic steroid:
List Of Estrogenic Steroids
Less Than Half Of All Anabolic Steroids Are Converted Into Estrogen
The following is a list of commonly used steroids, from least estrogenic to most estrogenic:
- Trenbolones (Ex. Trenabol®) (via increased progesterone activity)
- Nandrolones (Ex. Deca-Durabolin®) (via increased progesterone activity)
- Boldenone (Equipose®)
- Testosterones (Ex. Testosterone Cypionate)
- Boldenone + Methandriol (Drive)
- Methandrostenolone (Dianabol®)
- Oxymetholone (Anadrol-50®)
- Methyltestosterone (Metandren®)
How Is Estrogen Made?
Estrogen Is Made By Altering Testosterone – More Testosterone = More Estrogen
In the male body, estrogen is created naturally by the body. However, rather than product it in a gland and release it directly into the bloodstream, the body creates estrogen by altering testosterone.
When the aromatase enzyme attaches itself to testosterone, it changes the testosterone into estrogen. Therefore, the amount of estrogen that is produced is directly proportional to the amount of testosterone that is produced.
Testosterone is not the only anabolic steroid that is converted into estrogen. Many other anabolic steroids are also converted to estrogen.
Negative Feedback Mechanism
Spikes In Estrogen Inhibit The Production Of Testosterone
If estrogen levels spike, this causes a chain reaction in the body that leads to a reduction in the amount of testosterone that the body produces. Estrogen, therefore, is said to have an inhibitory effect on the production of testosterone, and this is one of the body’s feedback loops that is used to help regulate its production of natural testosterone.
Too much testosterone = too much estrogen = inhibitory effect on testosterone production = reduction in testosterone production = reduction in estrogen levels = increase in testosterone production = increasing testosterone (and estrogen) levels = too much testosterone = too much estrogen = inhibitory effect on testosterone production = reduction in testosterone production…
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