6 Anavar Side Effects & How to Combat Them
Disclaimer: The following article is for educational purposes only and NOT to promote the use of illegal steroids. If you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Touliatos is currently available for consultations.
Anavar (Oxandrolone) is one of the most popular anabolic steroids in the world, thanks to its ability to add lean muscle mass, whilst simultaneously stripping subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Furthermore, Anavar’s effects on muscular strength are often understated, with it being a staple compound in many powerlifters’ pre-competition stacks.
Men take Anavar to become leaner, fuller, stronger and bigger. Women take Anavar for the same reasons; however, it is arguably more coveted by females, due to it being one of the few steroids that do not cause masculinization (in moderate dosages).
Anavar’s popularity doesn’t just stem from the compound’s positive effect on body composition, but also due to its safety profile.
Anavar is an FDA-approved anabolic steroid, thus it is considered safe to use when prescribed by a doctor in therapeutic dosages. Such approval is indicative of its mild nature, with women and children successfully taking this oral steroid in clinical trials with few side effects (1).
However, bodybuilders are known to purchase Anavar illegally via the black market, presenting greater risks, with doctors only issuing prescriptions for patients suffering from cachexia (2) or osteoporosis (3).
Thus, Anavar’s side effects can be more pronounced when purchasing non-pharmaceutical products, due to a lack of regulation and safety measures when formulating Oxandrolone. Bodybuilders are also known to take high dosages (above the therapeutic threshold), without the supervision of a doctor.
Legal Anavar Alternative
The extent of the following side effects can be determined by a user’s genetics, training, diet, dosage and cycle length.
High dosages of Anavar, combined with an unhealthy lifestyle can cause adverse reactions; which may become evident in a user’s next health checkup.
In contrast, healthy individuals taking moderate dosages of Anavar may not notice any side effects, with test scores falling within a normal range.
Oral anabolic steroids generally have more devastating effects on cholesterol (compared to injectables), due to the stimulation of hepatic lipase in the liver.
However, Anavar’s mild nature means that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels do not rise excessively — making it a more cardiovascular-friendly oral steroid.
A notable increase in blood pressure is still to be expected, which will regulate back to normal levels post-cycle. Thus, users can anticipate some cardiovascular strain, marginally increasing the risk of myocardial infarction.
Therefore, individuals with existing high blood pressure, or those genetically prone to heart disease, shouldn’t take Anavar (or any other anabolic steroid).
Individuals with healthy blood lipids are unlikely to experience any cardiac-related issues on Anavar.
However, users should always look to minimize cardiotoxicity by performing regular cardiovascular exercise; combined with a diet rich in unsaturated fats, low in saturated fats, and low in sodium.
2. Liver Toxicity
Anavar is a c-17 alpha-alkylated steroid, thus alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) enzymes will inevitably rise.
However, due to the mild nature of Anavar and the kidneys also working to process the compound, hepatic stress is typically very manageable.
Some users may choose to supplement with Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) for additional protection, with a dosage of 500mg/day.
Users shouldn’t combine Anavar with hepatotoxic medications or alcohol, in a bid to prevent further liver inflammation. Also, users should not take Anavar if their liver is already in an inflamed or injured state.
Generally, the degree of liver stress with Anavar is not problematic for most users, as the organ is very resilient even when abused. ALT/AST enzymes will typically drop back into a normal range quickly post-cycle.
3. Testosterone Suppression
Despite men having significantly more testosterone than women, this side effect applies to both men and women; with testosterone remaining crucial for a woman’s libido, energy and well-being.
Anavar is one of the least suppressive anabolic steroids; however, endogenous testosterone will still decrease notably, due to impairment of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (HPTA).
Thus, men and women can experience sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, lethargy and depression post-cycle.
Anavar does not completely shut down testosterone levels. Thus, this recovery period is likely to be short (several weeks) before natural testosterone levels rebound back to normal levels.
Due to the mild nature of Anavar, some users may not experience any noticeable side effects or comedown post-cycle, and thus will not feel the need to administer a post-cycle therapy (PCT).
However, for those looking to accelerate endogenous testosterone production and restoration of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis, medications such as Clomid or Nolvadex may be utilized.
4. Excessive Pumps
One of the aesthetic benefits of Anavar is increased glycogen storage, causing bigger pumps (in and out of the gym).
A ‘pumped-up’ look may be visually pleasing for a bodybuilder; however, it can also be uncomfortable or even painful when working out — due to excessive muscle fullness.
Painful pumps particularly in the lower back are not uncommon when performing deadlifts on Anavar. Thus, users should be cautious about incorporating short rest times in between sets or performing high rep ranges during workouts.
One solution for users combating excessive fluid retention in the muscles is to significantly lower carbohydrate intake, resulting in decreased intracellular fluid volume.
Another option is to take a diuretic; however, this isn’t recommended as bodybuilders may further strain their kidneys, increasing the risk of renal disorders (4).
5. Kidney Toxicity
Anavar is unique compared to other anabolic steroids, as the kidneys share more of the workload when processing Oxandrolone upon entry.
The advantage to this is that there is less hepatic (liver) inflammation, and the disadvantage is that there is increased renal (kidney) inflammation.
Thus, there is a risk of acute or chronic kidney injury should Anavar be abused i.e. taken in high dosages or for an excessively long time (beyond 8 weeks).
For optimal kidney health, users should get regular checkups before, during and after Anavar cycles; to monitor serum creatinine levels.
Also, the more diligent Anavar users are in regards to their cardiovascular health (performing regular cardio exercise, reducing sodium intake, etc.); the healthier their kidneys will be.
This is because high blood pressure damages blood vessels in the kidneys, causing nephron tubules to die; which are the kidney cells needed to filter water out of the body.
Despite Anavar being a well-tolerated steroid by women, if taken in prolonged cycles (>5 weeks) or in high dosages (>10mg/day); masculinization can occur.
Such virilizing side effects can include a deepened voice, breast shrinkage, enlargement of the clitoris or/and hair growth (on the body). Menstrual cycles can also become irregular.
The best way to avoid virilization is to take conservative dosages and to use Anavar sporadically in cycles, rather than continuously using it for several months at a time.
Anavar is a relatively mild anabolic steroid, with men, women and children taking this steroid safely and effectively in a medical environment.
However, bodybuilders should not be complacent regarding the potential negative effects of Anavar; especially as it is often counterfeited on the black market — commonly being switched for Methandrostenolone (Dianabol). In such an instance where Anavar is listed on the label but Dianabol is the true compound, this can present increased risks; especially in regards to cholesterol, liver values and virilization in women.
Furthermore, abusing Anavar or stacking it with highly toxic anabolic steroids is likely to exacerbate side effects — resulting in a downturn in health.