"Qualitative work from Ip and colleagues examined a sample of female AAS users through web-surveys [32]. Their findings demonstrated that women experience AAS use differently to men and, therefore, may have their own unique needs. More recently, Havnes et al. [33] explored the experiences and harms of women who use AAS. Their study utilised a sample of women (n = 16) aged 18 and above who reported current or past AAS use. The authors linked AAS initiation to male partners, friends, and coaches and the participants entrusted this group with decisions about use and regarded them as reliable sources of information. The oral compounds that are reportedly often used by women, such as Oxandrolone (Anavar) and Stanozolol (Winstrol), have toxic effects on the liver, negatively affect cholesterol and lipoproteins, and increase cardiovascular risk [25]. Given the potential for health-related complications, there are some AAS users who will display help-seeking behaviours. For example, Zahnow et al. [34] have suggested that women AAS users are more likely than men AAS users to engage with a general practitioner. More recently, Havnes and colleagues have argued that few women seek information about AAS-related side effects, and that several health risks do not present symptoms, presenting a clear need to understand more about women’s AAS use [33, 35]. The potential for developing irreversible masculinizing effects from AAS is, at times, difficult for women to process and may negatively impact their well-being [33]. Specifically, the masculinizing effects that come from AAS may negatively influence self-esteem, social life, and sexual function [33], and these effects appear to be different from those male users are concerned with [36].

"Recently, there has been growing interest in the practices of women who use AAS [30, 31, 33, 37]. This development is, in part, due to the increasing recognition of the distinctive challenges and risks faced by women using substances [38, 39], particularly AAS [33, 37]. This study contributes to our understanding of gender-specific experiences of, and outcomes from AAS use. There is also a growing recognition of the need for a gender-sensitive approach to harm reduction, which considers the specific needs and experiences of women from various perspectives [40, 41]. The present study contributes to knowledge by extending our present understanding of women’s use of AAS. Firstly, the study sought to gather perspectives from both men and women on the unique challenges surrounding women’s use of AAS, irrespective of their personal use. Secondly, the study interrogated how women’s AAS practices differ from those of men specifically."


Piatkowski T, Robertson J, Lamon S, Dunn M. Gendered perspectives on women's anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) usage practices. Harm Reduct J. 2023 Apr 25;20(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s12954-023-00786-x. PMID: 37098574; PMCID: PMC10127974.