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A Womans Guide to Chemical Enhancement

 

This article is Part I of II.

This article was written by one of RxMuscle's most respected female Forum Administrators who is an accomplished bodybuilder and veteran of online Fitness Community. I am republishing this now to try and get the word out to so many women who come to our site seeking help from other womae about what drugs they can take and what drugs they shouldn't take. I will say this loud and clear: Always check with someone knowledgable about PED use with women or a traienr who has SUCCESSFULLY trained women before subjecting yourself to potential long term consequences you may have never thought of. Just because it worked "for your boyfriend or husband" does not mean it will work the same for you. Please use safely and educated.

This article covers the spectrum of most major chemicals used by athletes around the world. Sassy covers AAS, GH, Fat Burners, Non-Stimulant Fat Burners, Thyroid meds, Birth Control and more.

Bryan Hildebrand, Editor in Chief, Strength Central

 

Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS)

A note about available steroid information: Most of what is out there on muscle forums and even medical studies is primarily written with men in mind. The subject of women and steroids is much less studied and published. The detail written here is based on both published and anecdotal information, and some good guesses based on “what seems to work”.  This puts more of the onus on women to educate themselves to make informed choices for themselves. Always remember: YOUR body, YOUR results, YOUR sides. Well-intentioned husbands / boyfriends / male friends / guys from the gym, even experienced, are not necessarily going to be giving you the best or right information on which to base your decisions. The basic chemistry is different, the dosing is different and the risks are different.  At the end of the day, it is always your own personal chemistry experiment and no one can take the risks for you.

And a last note on what should be the obvious thought – ANY supplement – over-the-counter, prescribed or illegal, is always only going to be a SUPPLEMENT to an already existing and functioning diet and training program. There are no quicky fixes and nothing is for free. You will not get the results you envision using any supplement if you don’t already have your diet and training in place and working. If this is not true, chances are you are going to end up in a place worse than better.

This section will include links to the standard steroid profiles for the technical details, with most of the discussion focused on use, specifically for women. Please note that most steroid profiles are written with men in mind as the target audience and relative to male hormone profiles. Any dosing recommended is not going to be appropriate for women unless otherwise specified.

Here are two articles in general that are worth reading:

•    Women and Steroids: http://www.steroid.com/women_and_steroids.php

•    Women and Testosterone: http://www.steroid.com/TestosteroneinWomen.php

Anavar (Oxandrolone)

Profile: http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?t=27095

Anavar is probably the most commonly used AAS by women, for physique competition or by women who "want to go to the next level". It might be used by figure competitors for off-season building with an appropriate diet, or during contest prep for cutting, preservation of muscle during a cutting diet, and improved recovery.

Anavar promotes lean muscle mass with minimal sides and occasional water retention. It is a oral steroid, though used in small enough doses that its impact on the liver is minimal for women. It is also attractive to women and beginners who are not interested in dealing with needles. The predictable and minimal sides are also attractive points to those not wanting to deal with the more individual and androgenic sides of most other AAS.

Typical Cycle

•    Dose: 10 mg / day - split the dose 1/2 in the AM, 1/2 in the PM
•    Duration: 10-14 weeks
•    No need to taper down the dose or follow with post cycle therapy (PCT).
•    It is generally suggested to start the cycle at 5 mg / day (splitting doses as above) for the first 10-14 days to identify any adverse reaction. After that time, you can increase to 10 mg / day.
•    Suggested maximum dose is 20 mg / day (though more is not better - often 10 mg is sufficient). As the dose increases, sides may increase and results don't necessarily increase. Anecdotally, if the cycler is interested in going to doses above 20 mg, the sides can begin to accumulate and the impact on your liver becomes more of a consideration. Based on this and the cost (anavar is typically one of the more expensive compounds), if you are looking for more aggressive results, this is the point where people will move to a more aggressive, cheaper, injectable compound.

Typical Sides

•    interrupted period / flow - may take a few months for the flow to come back as normal. Note this does NOT mean you won’t get pregnant.
•    you may still experience usual menstrual sides (cramps, bloating, etc.) on your regular menstrual schedule
•    mild acne
•    Clitoral enlargement and increased sensitivity
•     oily hair
•    some experience water retention (though not due to aromatization)
•    may cause vaginosis / yeast infection (most any AAS has this potential)
•    occasionally people experience nose bleeds

Winstrol

Winstrol, or “winny”, is one of the steroids most commonly suggested for women (along with anavar and primobolan). Winstrol comes in both oral and water-based injectable form. It is attractive to women or recommended for women because it is an oral, it has a relatively short half-life and detection time (i.e .it clears the system relatively quickly, reducing the duration of any undesirable sides following completion of a cycle), and promotes lean muscle mass without water retention. It is most commonly viewed as a “cutter” for physique competition. Winstrol is also attractive as it tends to be both cheaper and more readily available than anavar or primobolan. Because of this, it is also less likely to be faked.

Winstrol is often grouped with anavar as a good steroid for “beginners’ or those who don’t want to go into the more aggressive compounds (i.e. injectables). However it is more androgenic than anavar and sides are less predictable and more unique to the individual, with the potential of being very androgenic. Because of this, anavar would generally be the better recomendation, but winstrol is seen as a viable alternative. As an androgenic compound, it also has a ‘fat burning’ effect.
Profile: http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?p=1432600#post1432600

Typical Use:

Winstrol is most commonly used both by men and women, as a cutter during competition prep. It promotes lean, hard muscle mass without water retention. One might see figure competitors running a winstrol-only cycle, or a more advanced physique competitor using it in a stack towards the final weeks of a competition prep. It might also be used, especially in oral form, by someone who wants to “take it to the next level”, not necessarily for competition.

Typical Cycle:

•    Oral Winstrol: Can be cycled similarly to anavar.
o    Dose: 5-15 mg/day- split the dose ½ in the AM, ½ in the PM
o    Duration: 8-12 weeks
o    Takes about 10-14 days to “show” itself.
•    Injectable Winstrol:
o    Dose: 25 mg E3D
o    Duration: 8-12 weeks
•    No taper or post-cycle therapy needed
•    If chosen to include in a competition cutting stack, schedule towards the final weeks of prep. It takes about 2 weeks to “show” itself.

Typical Sides:

•    Interrupted period/flow – may take a few months for the flow to come back as normal.
•    May still experience usual menstrual sides (cramps, bloating, etc.) on your regular menstrual schedule.
•    Mild to aggressive acne on face or shoulders
•    Clitoral enlargement and increased sensitivity
•    Oily skin / hair
•    Hairloss
•    Scratchy throat / cracky or deepening voice
•    Dry joints
•    may cause vaginosis / yeast infection (most any AAS has this potential)
•    Winstrol is occasionally called the “snake bite” drug in that it either likes you or it doesn’t. People will occasionally experience flu-like symptoms within the first week or two of a winstrol cycle in response to this compound.
Primobolan

Primobolan or “primo”, comes in both oral and injectable form. The injectable, Primobolan Depot, is most commonly used. Tab form, primobolan acetate, was popular but had disappeared for a while. It has recently become more available.
Profile: http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?t=27329

Typical Use:

Primo has been listed as one of the top three favorite cycles for women, in addition to anavar and winstrol. Because it does not aromatize, again it is a favorite cycle both for cutting or bulking off-season. Lean gains are good for a women looking to build some size but not get “hyuge”. The injectable was the only one available for several years, so it was seen as a more aggressive cycle which required injections. Beyond the issue with injections, it is the more popular and more readily available of the two. In the late 90s into the 2000’s, it had a reputation frequently being faked because it was not a cheap compound.  The tabs, as most other orals, are seen as less “hardcore” and more acceptable for women. Primo tabs are unique in that the oral form is one of the few orals that is not hard on the liver, but at the same time, it loses a degree of its strength as it passes through your system, thus higher doses are required.

Typical Cycle:

•    Injectable Primo:
o    Dose: 50-150 mg per week
o    Duration: 10-14 weeks
o    Tends to take about 5 weeks to “show” itself.
•    Primo tabs:
o    Dose: 50-75mg per day
o    Duration: 10-14 weeks
•    No taper or post-cycle therapy is needed.
•    This is often the primary component of a prep phase. It can be run all the way up to a show without promoting water retention issues.
•    More experienced cyclers will often stack with winstrol or anavar.

Potential Sides:

•    Notorious for hairloss  - A shampoo like Nizoral or Nioxin can help minimize this.
•    Acne (face or shoulders)
•    Facial hair growth
•    Sore throat / cracky or deepened voice
•    Clitoral enlargement and increased sensitivity
•    Oily hair
•    Interrupted period/flow – may take a few months for the flow to come back as normal.
•    May still experience usual menstrual sides (cramps, bloating, etc.) on your regular menstrual schedule.

•    may cause vaginosis / yeast infection (most any AAS has this potential)

Proviron

Proviron is a highly androgenic compound that is used primarily during the final weeks of a competition cutting phase to help lean out in the mid-section. It is often stacked with Nolvadex to synergistically lean out the hips/thighs/waist. Being fundamentally androgenic (as opposed to anabolic), proviron will not promote muscle growth as much as it promotes leanness and hardness. For short cycles (e.g. 8 weeks maximum), sides are minimal.

Typical Use:

Proviron would be stacked with Nolvadex as a final 4-8 week dial into a competition date.
Typical Cycle:
•    Nolvadex: 10-20 mg ED, split in half in a morning dose and late afternoon / night dose for 4-8 weeks, tapering off after the target date or cycle end date to reduce “rebound”.
•    Proviron: 25 mg ED, split in half in a morning dose and a late evening / night dose. No need to taper the dose when the target date or cycle end date is over.

Equipoise

Equipoise or “EQ” is an injectable steroid that does not aromatize. Since it does not convert to estrogen, it is seen as a nice cycle that produces good gains without water retention.
Profile: http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?t=27223

Typical Use:

For an experienced cycler, as an off-season bulker without water retention, or at the beginning of a contest prep, again without water retention. Anecdotally, some people experience an increase in hunger on EQ, so it might fit well with a bulker phase. EQ also promotes connective tissue repair, which can be useful in protecting the joints and ligaments while a cycle is increasing your strength (i.e. the joints become the weak link).

Typical Cycle:

•    Dosage: 50-150 mg / week.
•    Duration: 6-10 weeks
•    Tends to take about 5 weeks to “show” itself

Potential Sides:

•    Acne (face or shoulders)
•    Oily skin
•    Hairloss
•    Clitoral enlargement and increased sensitivity
•    Sore throat / cracky or deepening voice
•    Facial hair growth
•    Interrupted period – would typically return the first full month after the duration of the EQ detection time following the last injection
•    may cause vaginosis / yeast infection (most any AAS has this potential)

Nandrolone Phenyl Propionate (NPP)

There are several different forms (esters) of Nandrolone available. NPP is the shorter-acting “Deca” (nandrolone decanoate) that would be more likely recommended for women. The longer acting Deca will produce more water retention and more aggressive sides due to the longer ester (clearing time). This is a more aggressive cycle for women with some water retention and longer detection time than the more commonly used injectables such as primo.

Profile: http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?t=27213

Typical Use:

For women, NPP falls into the scope of really only for those experienced who are looking for significant growth and are prepared to deal with the full scope of potential sides.  It might be considered an off-season cycle for a female bodybuilder or used at the beginning of a 16 week prep, to be later dropped and replaced with a non-aromatizing compound.

Typical Cycle:

•    Dose:15- 25 mg E3D
•    Duration: 8-10 weeks
•    As we get into the much more aggressive cycles, it becomes more of a personal preference on dosing based on goals and any other stacked compounds

Potential Sides:

•    Water retention
•    Acne (face or shoulders)
•    Oily skin
•    Hairloss
•    Sore throat / cracky or deepening voice
•    Facial hair growth
•    Clitoral enlargement and increased sensitivity
•    Interrupted period – would typically return the first full month after the duration of the EQ detection time following the last injection

Testosterone Propionate

There are several esters of testosterone, but only the Propionate ester, also known as “Test Prop”, would be recommended for women. The other variations commonly used by men, Test Cypionate, Test Enanthate, or Sustenon, are considerably longer-acting esters, producing much more water retention and more aggressive sides, taking a much longer to clear the system.
Profile: http://www.steroid.com/Testosterone-Propionate.php

Typical Use:

For women, Test Prop falls into the scope of really only for those experienced who are looking for significant growth and are prepared to deal with the full scope of potential sides.  It might be considered an off-season cycle for a female bodybuilder or used at the beginning of a 16 week prep, to be later dropped and replaced with a non-aromatizing compound. It is reasonably short-acting so will begin to produce results (and sides) fairly quickly. This compound does aromatize, but due to its short ester, it reasonably limited. There is no real need for an aromatase inhibitor with this compound, but be aware that it does still produce some water retention.

Typical Cycle:

•    Dose:15- 25 mg E4D
•    Duration: 4-6 weeks
•    As we get into the much more aggressive cycles, it becomes more of a personal preference on dosing based on goals and any other stacked compounds

Potential Sides:

•    Water retention
•    Acne (face or shoulders)
•    Oily skin
•    Hairloss
•    Sore throat / cracky or deepening voice
•    Facial hair growth
•    Clitoral enlargement and increased sensitivity
•    Interrupted period – would typically return the first full month after the duration of the EQ detection time following the last injection

Trenbolone (Finaplex)

Trenbolone acetate, or “tren ace” or “tren a” is more recently, being mentioned more frequently with women. It is a favorite among men because it promotes strength while allowing great cutting results with no aromatization. The issue is that this compound is extremely androgenic and also very harsh on the liver.  Very experienced female cyclers may use trenbolone acetate as part of a cutting cycle, but should be very careful and diligent with their bloodwork afterwards .I hesitate to include cycle information here because you should already have an idea of the cycle details if you are at a point where you are considering running a tren cycle.
Profile: http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?t=27222

Things to Remember

In summary, some basic things to keep in mind if you want to play on the dark side:
•    More is NOT better. It’s about finding a workable balance for YOUR hormone levels, your goals and your experience.
•    Never forget that you are self-medicating with hormones - it is always your own personal experiment. Slow & low is your best approach.
•    Don't stack a pile of stuff you've never run each individually before - you have no idea how these compounds affect your body so you can't make judgements on what to cut / what is bad / what is good for your body chemistry. Also there is an accumulated effect when you are throwing all sorts of stuff in the pile. Fundamentally you are jacking up the amount of DHT in your system. Know the half life of each compound you are interested in - some are much longer than others so if you don't like the sides, on longer esters, tough shit. Now you gotta wait for the compound to clear your system before the sides go away.
•    Know the potential sides - anything is possible in any degree – there is no such thing as “no sides”- only those that you don’t experience - it is very individual so you are still running your own personal experiment.
•    You don't need to be "scared" of the sides - you either accept them or you don't. You can't pick which ones you want & which you don't and you can't predict what you will experience until you try it. It’s more about managing risk by educating yourself, staying at conservative doses and watching how your body responds. If you are “scared” of the sides, you have no business cycling.
•     Don't listen to other people - especially guys. They will have a completely different experience w/ different doses & different compounds. A tiny little amount of anything will have dramatic effects on women compared to men. YOU are responsible for YOUR cycle.
•    Women, generally, do not need to worry about post-cycle therapy (PCT) like guys do. (This changes if your cycles are much more aggressive, longer and more of them. If you are at this level, you probably don’t need to be reading this.) Women can generally just end a cycle. There is no need to taper. The compound will clear at the rate specified by its half-life.
•    Think in the long term - don't cycle just "for my next show" - just like a bulker or cutter diet - it has a place in the ongoing cycle of change that happens over time. You can't maintain the state of being "on" so you have to also come off, expect to lose a little of what you gained, but you will have made a change to your over all body composition.
•    Watch your diet - if you are going to bother putting this stuff in your body, you should respect your body enough to not think you can get away w/ eating shit - generally unless you are already lean & eating a good diet already targeted to what you are trying to do, any AAS will get you 'big' in terms of 'thick', 'bigger' etc. IF the diet is tight, then you will also get the leaned out effect that everyone wants - but sloppy diet will get you more big than lean.
•    Time off = Time on. The general rule of thumb is to allow at least as long as your cycle, to clear your system and let your body re-establish its own homeostasis.  People tend to want to “try more” but it is important to remember that there are impacts to your body not immediately apparent, that you need to pay attention to, e.g. kidneys, liver, blood pressure, etc.  If you want to get more aggressive with your cycles, plan way ahead and get regular blood work done to monitor things after each cycle completes and clears.
•    AAS and Birth Control do not interact. However the effects they each promote are opposing – birth control works to regulate estrogen (including estrogen-pattern bodyfat depositing) while AAS promotes lean muscle mass.
•    AAS can promote yeast infections / vaginosis. Any AAS or sex hormone manipulator (including AIs) can promote yeast infections. It is always recommended to supplement with acidophilus to help prevent these.

AAS and Birth Control

One of the most common questions asked is about AAS and Birth Control. Women typically experience an interruption of their menstrual cycle while on any sex hormone-manipulating cycle (AAS or “anti-estrogen”). This does NOT mean that you cannot get pregnant. Despite the lack of flow, other typical menstrual sides can be present when “that time of the month” is expected – including bloating, breast sensitivity, moodiness, etc.

There is very little to nothing published on the topic of the interaction of birth control and anabolic androgenic steroids so it is hard to say how they truly interact. For the usual purpose of women using steroids, to cut, it is more than that the effects of birth control and steroids promote opposing results, so the end result is less than completely optimal effects of either. Birth control’s purpose is to regulate estrogen levels. For some this may mean controlling higher levels during a period, or for others this might mean promoting more if they experience irregular periods. This also includes the usual water retention and estrogen-pattern fat depositing around the stomach, hips and thighs areas. While a steroid is trying to promote lean muscle mass, and in some cases, even a ‘fat burning’ effect. Even while the steroid may interrupted the menstrual flow, the birth control will still support prevention of pregnancy.

If a cycle is used for off-season mass-building, the need for staying lean is less of an issue. However for competition cutting, it can be an issue. The trade-off is to continue using birth control, and possibly not get the full effect of the cutting in the stomach / hips / thighs area but still getting the pregnancy prevention, or dropping the birth control, using a back-up birth control method (e.g. condoms) and have less of an impact from the estrogen-pattern fat depositing. Another option for many older competitors is an intra-uterine device (IUD). The copper IUD is completely non-hormonal, or another option such as Mirena, has a low-dose of slow-release progesterone to help address bleeding which can be an issue with the copper IUD. IUDs must be inserted by your OB/GYN and stay in place for up to five years. For this reason, this is only recommended for older women or those who do not intend to have any more children. This is something you need to discuss with your OB/GYN. The cost tends to run around $600 and may or may not be covered by your health insurance.

Another concern that women often with steroid use is recovery of the menstrual cycle. Noting I have yet to see a published study on this, the following paragraphs come with a caveat that this is from anecdotal and observational information and suggested as practical guidance and not a medical verity. If you have lost your period for an unusually long time and are concerned, always consult your OB/GYN.
The menstrual tends to be sensitive to changes in its environment – ranging from stress, to increased physical activity, sudden weight or bodyfat drop, introduction of steroids, or an estrogen manipulator such as a new birth control dose or use of an anti-estrogen. It will tend to turn off flow (and in the extreme, amenorrhea) or have breakthrough bleeding or sporadic periods while it deals with the change in its environment. When things have returned to a state of homeostasis, things will generally return to normal, including the usual monthly flow and the usual side effects of estrogen-pattern bodyfat depositing, water retention, cramps, etc.

To gauge roughly how long it should take for an interrupted menstrual cycle to return, look first at the compound you are using and its detection time. This is far end of the duration the compound is present in your system. It can be up to this long, or to a point where the concentration of the compound has dropped to where the rest of the body is comfortable and ready to turn things back on. And then, keeping in mind that the menstrual cycle works on a 28-day schedule, it will generally want a full month of a stable environment before it may start up again.

If you have concern, always consult your OB/GYN. There are prescriptions that are available to help reintroduce a period.

A last comment is about steroids and pregnancy. Again there are no medical studies available, but general guidance is to allow a good six months after a cycle to clear before attempting to get pregnant. Be sure to work closely with your personal physician if you plan to get pregnant and ensure that all of your basic bloodwork, and everything else is in order. The concern is that the presence of steroid compounds in the female system while a fetus is growing, can affect the sex hormones of the fetus, producing androgenic fetal abnormalities. Some of this mentioned here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabolic_steroid, but all in all, you would want to ensure a steroid-free environment for your child. There are many women who have cycled, who then stopped, cleared out and have had healthy children with no problem. Steroid use will not leave you infertile.

If the father is using steroids when the mother gets pregnant, there is no effect on the fetus itself. The concern for men using steroids is more related to the steroid-driven suppression of natural testosterone production, and in the extreme, infertility. Again, that said, there are many men who have conceived while on cycle with no issue.

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