Women have been using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) as early as the ancient Greeks, eating various natural products to induce hallucinations and/or elicit a performance gain over their peers. Today, females still commonly use PEDs for therapeutic, sport-specific, longevity, and quality of life-enhancing reasons, just as men do. Women however are significantly more sensitive to drugs/medication than men are, so can not use all the same compounds and dosages that the average male would administer.
With the cumulative clinical and anecdotal studies we now have, we can safely recommend certain anabolic compounds to women that will not alter their femininity with the androgenic (masculinizing) side effects that many anabolic compounds possess. These adverse virilization symptoms can include; deepening of the voice development of the adam’s apple, excessive facial and body hair, growth of the clitoris, and multiple issues with reproducing and menstruating. The virilization from steroid use can, unfortunately, be irreversible for women, as the DNA itself becomes altered with prolonged use.
First Time PED use for Women
Trying PEDs for the first time can be unsettling to say the least. The combination of general anxiety and all the general conflicting misinformation from most forums can be overwhelming and prevents many people from taking the first step into PED use. The first thing one needs to do is as much research as possible to understand how these drugs work, the benefits and risks involved, how to responsibly use them, etc. There is a lot of misinformation online on forums and from individuals that just don’t know what they’re talking about. So do your own research. It is also essential to have regular comprehensive blood work done, to monitor your biomarkers (such as Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone, Thyroid/Liver/Kidney function, Cholesterol, etc.). Regular blood work will give you an idea as to how your health is being affected by PED use and also let you know if there are deficiencies or underlying health issues to address to optimize your health and well-being. And realize that higher doses of administered exogenous hormones over a long period do correlate to an increase of the adverse side effects, even for the mild PEDs that are generally considered “safer” for female use.
The Dangers of Female PED Use
When it comes to PEDs, (Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS), Peptides, and/or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs)), there are going to be risks associated with usage, whether male or female. Women naturally have lower levels of testosterone and higher levels of Estrogen and Progesterone, so introducing a compound that is primarily Testosterone based (at any dose) will have significant adverse side effects on bodily functions.
The most harm would come from Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid (AAS) use, as they have a higher level of androgenicity compared to Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs), non-steroidal peptides, and other supplements. Most traditional steroid compounds can induce virilization side effects by their nature and mechanism of action, also based on the person and other factors. Androgenic steroidal drugs should generally be avoided by women who wish to maintain femininity, and who are not actively pursuing gender reassignment via hormone manipulation. SARMS were developed as an alternative to testosterone for therapeutic use and are generally much safer to use for both men and women as they are not androgenic and are more selective to the androgen receptors in bone and muscle tissue, whereas traditional steroids are not selective, and can accelerate the growth of organs, tumors, and cancer, etc. Other non-steroidal PEDs such as most Peptides and Fat Loss stimulants are usually better tolerated by women as they do not work within similar mechanisms of action.
Which PEDs are Ideal for Women?
Women should avoid using any Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid (AAS) that is fairly androgenic. Testosterone is the base that all other steroids are compared to by the anabolic-androgenic ratio. Testosterone has a ratio of 100:100 xxx, y, and other steroids have been chemically engineered to be potential testosterone alternatives clinically. Testosterone has an Anabolic-Androgenic ratio of 100:100. All steroids are compared to this misleading scale. Anecdotally, the clinical Anabolic-Androgenic ratio of all steroid compounds means much less in real-world applications. Still, the AAS and SARM drugs currently approved for female use by the FDA, are few and have the lowest amount of androgenic side effects. Remember that women are generally 10x more sensitive to the effects of exogenous hormones than men.
Steroids for Women
Regarding Steroids, women will avoid most compounds altogether and be careful to avoid the onset of the Androgenic side effects from the steroids they chose to use. There are a few AAS deemed safer for female use such as the following compounds.
Known as the “female” Steroid, Anavar (Oxandrolone) was developed to be used in patients who suffer from muscle wasting diseases, and is considered very efficacious, as its side effects are extremely low in both clinical and anecdotal studies.
Due to the fact that Anavar was developed more recently than other AAS, it lacks many of the typical side effects we associate with steroids – it’s just that good. Anavar is a DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) derivative that is much more Anabolic than Androgenic. This makes it ideal for women who want to avoid the unwanted adverse Androgenic side effects of using most steroids.
Anavar is exceptional for Anabolism, Strength (as all DHT derivatives are), and Fat Loss as well. Anavar has anti-glucocorticoid and insulin-regulating effects, making it ideal for Fat Loss. Due to the fact that it is a DHT derivative, it doesn’t interact with the Aromatase Enzyme and convert into Estrogen. This makes Anavar even more ideal for fat loss phases as it is known to give users a “dry” esthetic at a low body fat percentage.
- 5-20 mg/day for 12-16 weeks
- Split total daily dosage into two separate (am & pm) doses due to the short half-life
Nandrolone Decanoate (DECAGEN)
More commonly known as Deca, Nandrolone is what’s known as a 19-Nor steroid, due to the fact that it lacks the 19th Carbon found in Testosterone. This dramatically changes the properties of the parent hormone, Testosterone.
This 19-Nor is more Anabolic than Testosterone, however much less Androgenic. Deca will almost exclusively be used during a mass gaining phase, and the reason for this is mostly due to its side effects. Deca isn’t known to be particularly Estrogenic, however, it does convert into a particularly strong variation of Estrogen. This makes Nandrolone very anabolic, and an ideal hormone to supplement during a muscle gaining phase.
Due to the accompanying water retention we see with Deca, you can not only expect decent strength increases via leverage, but Deca is also remarkably good for the joints. It increases the stores of Synovial Fluid within joints, making it a favorite amongst strength athletes who are under heavy bars all the time.
- 50-100 mg/week for 8-16 weeks
Equipoise (Boldenone) is known as the “Horse Steroid” because it was and is still largely used by racehorses to increase endurance capacity. After all, Boldenone massively increases Hematocrit, thus increasing endurance. Fun fact, Dianabol (DIANAGEN) is actually just Methylated EQ (Equipoise).
Boldenone is less Androgenic than Testosterone, and for ease of understanding, it possesses about half the Estrogenic properties that Testosterone does. Boldenone also massively increases hematocrit levels in the blood, which would make it a particularly good drug if you follow a high volume or cardio intense training program – something like Crossfit.
Boldenone is also notorious for being an incredibly “slow”compound, which basically means you have to run the compound for a long time before you actually see results. It does have a half-life of 14 days, meaning it requires less frequent injections, but the idea that you have to run it for 16 weeks before getting results is a myth. Unlike Deca, Equipoise will bring good, constant, relatively dry gains (compared to Deca). This means the scale won’t shoot up as with the latter, and leads some people to think EQ doesn’t work. It does, most individuals are just poor at gauging contractile tissue growth vs just mass (from water retention).
- 50-100 mg/week for 8-16 weeks
SARMs for Women
SARMs are a very popular PED option for women due to the lower hormonal impact they have compared to Steroids. A few popular SARMS deemed safe for female use are listed below.
Ostarine (a aryl propionamide) was created to treat muscle wasting diseases as well as Osteoporosis; it was also even considered for Testosterone Replacement Therapy. Like other SARMs, it primarily binds to the Androgen Receptors in contractile muscle and bone tissue, without really binding to Androgen Receptors in other parts of the body – which leads to adverse effects.
Ostarine possesses both muscle building and fat burning properties, however most individuals tend to use it within a fat loss phase, specifically for the purpose of increasing muscle retention. Studies have shown Ostarine to increase lean body mass and decrease fat mass in studies, while also reducing total Cholesterol levels (without affecting the HDL/LDL ratio). Studies have also shown that Ostarine can be beneficial for strength gains, as well as increasing bone health (specifically found in several microstructural bone studies).
- 10-25 mg/day for 12-16 weeks
Ligandrol was originally developed by Ligand Pharmaceuticals, and found that its massive anabolic properties were ideal for treating individuals suffering from muscle wasting diseases. Unlike Steroids, which are also used to treat such diseases, LGD-4033 does not convert into Estrogen, nor does it negatively affect the liver or the kidneys compared to similar anabolic compounds. Ligandrol is definitely a mass gaining SARM, as there is no evidence to suggest the compound itself will aid with fat loss.
- 2.5-10 mg/day for 8-16 weeks
Peptides for Women
Peptides are another safe option for women looking to gain an edge in adding quality lean muscle tissue and with losing weight/fat. They tend to not have Androgenic or Estrogenic side effects which is beneficial. Some Peptides commonly used by females are the following.
Human Growth Hormone (OXYTROP)
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a very popular peptide amongst women looking to increase their longevity, enhance fat loss, expedite recovery and just feel/look younger and healthier. Growth Hormone has also been linked to an expedited rate of recovery, by increasing cell regeneration, and cell reproduction. This makes HGH a very popular peptide for its anti-aging benefits, as it can slow down the aging process for cells, increase hair and skin health, and help take the load off of certain organs.
A release of Growth Hormone will firstly downregulate the uptake of Free Fatty Acids (FFA) into Adipocytes (Fat Cells) by inhibiting LPL. With the lack of LPL, FFA will stay in the blood, and the body will reduce the usage of Glucose for energy, and rather use these FFA. Typically, this effect is most prominent in the abdominal region. GH will also increase the action of HSL. HSL will break down stored triglycerides into FFA, which can then be used as fuel for the body.
The timing of Growth Hormone administration is a highly debated topic, but in reality is very simple to understand. Since the mechanisms of Growth Hormone can change depending on the timing (time of the day, regarding timing of training and food intake).
When Growth Hormone enters the bloodstream it does not cause any anabolism by itself. It does however, signal to contractile tissue (and other tissue as well) to be prepared for growth. In the presence of Growth Hormone, the Pancreas will then produce Glucagon and Lipase; Lipase will release Fatty Acids from Adipocytes and Glucagon will circulate the system and reach the liver. The liver will then contribute sugar (Glycogen) to the bloodstream, which naturally makes your blood sugar rise, which of course causes the Pancreas to release insulin. Now, you have cells that are prepared for growth via; fuel (fatty acids and glucose) that are present in the bloodstream along with insulin to act as a nutrient partitioner and shuttle those nutrients primarily into lean muscle tissue. Additionally the liver will also secrete more IGF-1 which will bind to damaged cells and initiate hyperplasia (new muscle tissue synthesis).
These events all happen once Growth Hormone is administered via injection or released by the Pituitary gland. You can actually optimize the overarching effects of your exogenous HGH administration based on the time you inject it. For maximal fat loss, the best time to inject is prior to fasted cardio. Growth will increase the amount of fat (from fat stores) in the bloodstream to be utilized for fuel, over glucose (sugar). For optimal recovery and muscle growth, the best time to inject HGH would be before bed.
- 1-3 IU/day for 12-52 weeks
- Ideally split into multiple dosages throughout the day due to the very short half-life
BPC-157 (BODY PROTECTION COMPOUND)
The most popular Peptide for injury healing and recovery is BPC-157, hands down. Made from gut secretions, it has been shown to not only lower inflammation, but can actually rapidly increase the healing process following an injury. The way BPC-157 works is by causing Angiogenesis – the process of growing new arterial tissue which in turn increases the flow of nutrients to a site – and therefore increasing the recovery capabilities. As a bonus BPC-157 is also quite effective in alleviating chronic stomach pain and inflammation, and is known to help individuals suffering from gastrointestinal conditions like IBS and Chron’s.
- Injury Healing Protocol: 200-300 mcg/day, as needed until injury has healed, site specifically injected.
- Digestive Support Protocol: 5-10 mcg/kg of bodyweight per day, as needed, consumed orally for treatment of digestive issues.
Fat Loss Drugs for Women
Women regularly use stimulants and other fat loss drugs to lose weight and shed unwanted body fat. A few of the most common drugs used by females are the following.
Clenbuterol is a fat loss compound commonly used by both women and men. Originally developed as an Asthma medication, being a beta-2 receptor agonist, Clen has massive metabolism-boosting effects. It’s not quite as strong as Cytomel, however Clenbuterol has the benefit of being anti-catabolic. This means any weight loss via Clen usage is solely going to come from stored fat tissue, not from lean muscle mass. This compound is used during a fat loss cycle and stacks very well with Cytomel to expedite fat loss.
- 12.5-125 mcg/day, starting at 12.5 mcg and gradually increasing by 12.5 mcg, only as needed, to a maximum dosage of 125 mcg/day. Run for two weeks on, followed by 2 weeks off.
- OR it can alternatively be run long term (4-12 weeks) with nightly use of Benadryl or Ketotifen to mitigate desensitization.
Cytomel (T3) is a pure fat loss drug. T3 is one of the most commonly used fat burners by physique competitors for its ability to dramatically accelerate metabolism. T3 is indirectly produced via the Thyroid gland and will dictate various parts of the endocrine system.
The Thyroid Gland will produce a hormone called Thyroxine (T4) which is an inactive Thyroid hormone. This will be converted into the active hormone, T3. T3 will dictate a persons metabolic rate. In medicine we see T4 being prescribed to patients who suffer from Hypothyroidism, as the body will naturally only convert as much T4 into T3 as needed. Of course, to get the supraphysiological benefits, taking T3 is a much better route to take. Also, having too much T4 has been known to cause depressive side effects.
One thing to remember is that Cytomel can and will burn both fat and muscle tissue if you do not engage in enough resistance training, or take an adequate amount of anabolics.
- 12.5-100 mcg/day, starting at 12.5 mcg and increased weekly by 12.5 mcg to a maximum of 75-100 mcg (based on the amount of stacked anabolics). Taper back down to the starting dosage over two weeks prior to cessation. Can be run for 8-16 weeks.
SERMs & AIs for Women
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) and Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) were developed for therapeutic treatment of breast cancer. For performance enhancing purposes they are used for a number of reasons. A few SERMs and AIs commonly used by women are listed below.
Nolvadex is a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) drug that was created to treat and prevent hormone-responsive breast cancer. It is used by both men and women in the performance enhancing world to mitigate Estrogenic side effects while on cycle and also as part of Post Cycle Therapy (PCT). Generally women use Nolvadex alongside DHEA post cycle to help natural hormone levels return to normal in a shorter time without experiencing adverse rebound effects from cessation of using anabolic compounds.
- Post Cycle Therapy (PCT): 5-15 mg/day for 4 weeks, along with DHEA @ 25-50 mg for 4-12 weeks
- On Cycle use if needed
Raloxifene Hydrochloride (EVISTA)
Evista is a SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator), that functions similarly to an Aromatase Inhibitor, but differently by binding to the Estrogen Receptors throughout the body and blocking Estrogen from binding, which minimizes estrogenic side effects such as Gynecomastia in men – the development of breast tissue. Studies have shown it will also increase bone density, as well as increase fat free mass in certain females. This is most likely due to the fact that it can raise Testosterone production.
Raloxifene has been shown to suppress Estrogenic activity more than Nolvadex in breast tissue. Much like Nolvadex and Clomid, it can serve as a Testosterone booster by binding to the Estrogen receptors in the Hypothalamus, which will cause the release of LH (Luteinizing hormone) and FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone).
- 7.5-15 mg/day if needed
Ancillaries for Women
There are numerous other drugs regularly used by females to help counter some of the possible adverse side effects that using PEDs can bring such as the following compounds.
Some women who do choose to use PEDs will experience acne, similarly as with men. Accutane (Isotretinoin) has been the go-to for men and women for years. Typically used by individuals who are experiencing the adverse effects of Androgenic compounds, this is quite a strong and efficacious measure to treat acne.
Accutane is rather interesting as it literally decreases the size of the sebaceous glands in the skin. These glands are important to produce sebum, the oil in skin that can clog pores and cause acne. By controlling sebum, you can control breakouts. It is also well known that Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids increase the production of sebum in the body.
- 10-20 mg/day until acne subsides, generally 6-8 weeks (or less) is sufficient, only use as needed
Cialis is another interesting option for females. Famous for its ability to help men in the bedroom, some studies suggest that Cialis can increase blood flow to female genitalia as well. This is of course another great potential pre workout addition to increase your pump at the gym.
As most will know, Cialis is a vasodilator. This means that it increases the size of veins and arteries in the body, allowing for more blood flow. This is very similar to pump ingredients in your favorite pre workout such as Citrulline Malate. Vasodilators not only increase the amount of blood the muscles have access to (increasing endurance) but have also been shown to dramatically increase recovery as well.
- 5-10 mg 1-2 hours prior to intercourse
Which PEDs Women Should Avoid
Androgenic compounds will have the greatest risk (virilization) when it comes to females. The term Androgenisity means male-like properties, and completely avoiding these compounds is highly recommended for women looking to maintain their femininity. Steroids women should avoid include,but are not limited to, Trenbolone, Methyltestosterone, Testosterone, Superdrol, and MENT.
Responsible PED Use for Women
Similarly to men, when it comes to using PEDs, women should use as little as possible. The minimum required dosage to get the desired results and have the lowest amount of adverse side effects. There is no one size fits all dosage protocol for everybody. Everyone responds differently to different drugs and hormones, so ideal dosage will need to be determined case by case, via safe and responsible experimentation.
Compared to men, the female Endocrine system is quite fragile and needs to be treated with great respect. With that said, using a respectable dose of a safe compound for a reasonable period would be the best approach to manage the side effects. Avoid Androgenic compounds, and listen to your body. In the unfortunate case that your PED use begins to adversely affect your menstruation cycle, it might be a good idea to take a step back and have a look at where the problem is arising from and address it immediately. Regardless, PED use is extremely common for women nowadays, and if done responsibly can be safe in both the short and long term. It’s best to follow the advice of your doctor and to get regular blood work taken to help monitor your biomarkers and ensure you’re being as responsible as possible.