How Long Do Steroids Stay In Your System? (From a Doctor)

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: January 24, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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As a doctor with extensive experience in sports medicine, I understand the use of steroids to enhance body physique and improve gym performance.

However, it's important to be fully aware of how long the effects of steroids last in the system before considering their use.

I recently had an in-depth discussion with a bodybuilding coach who provided valuable insights into the practical aspects of steroid use and the various factors that influence how long they remain in your system.

Continue reading to learn more.

Quick Summary

  • Steroids typically stay in the system for about 4 to 12 hours, with the duration depending on the type of steroid used.
  • The two main types of steroids are anabolic steroids, used for muscle building, and corticosteroids, used for treating medical conditions.
  • According to a study by ResearchGate, the half-life of steroids, which is the time it takes for their concentration in blood plasma to reach 50%, helps estimate both the duration steroids stay in the body and their detectability on drug tests.
  • In my view, considering the potential health risks and ethical concerns, it's crucial to weigh the benefits of steroid use against its long-term impacts on health and well-being before using.

What Are Steroids?

Injecting steroids on biceps

Steroids are medications that frequently consist of artificial substances that resemble testosterone (the male sex hormone) or other synthetic androgens with comparable effects.

There are two types of steroids:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Corticosteroids

I recommend natural anabolic steroid use to my patients to enhance their athletic performance.

According to WebMed, corticosteroids are used to treat certain medical conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) [1].

How Do Steroids Work?

Steroids work by increasing endurance and promoting muscle building.

Additionally, anabolic steroids multiply androgen receptors and activate the growth hormone insulin.

I agree with that because after many of my patients take their steroids, they experience higher training loads, resulting in bigger, stronger muscles.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), steroids also stimulate the brain's neurons for individuals actively involved in physical activity [2].

"Taking steroids is psychologically addictive because most people get hooked on the quick results."

- James Ellis, Personal Trainer

According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation, while working out hard and consuming a healthy diet is still necessary for excellent fitness results, steroid capsules may aid in hastening muscle development and recovery [3].

I also noticed that anabolic steroid supplements take different amounts of time to work, depending on the purpose.

Some users say it would take two days for the steroids to affect the target areas fully. I noticed this with a few of my bodybuilding patients who used steroids to grow their muscle mass.

In my experience, using injectable testosterone once a week boosts muscle strength.

Research by NIH shows that injectable testosterone can fully enhance athletic performance within three to six weeks [4].

Additionally, a clinical investigation in Texas found that it can take up to four weeks for anabolic steroid medications to regulate a patient's testosterone levels [5].

If you are new to steroids and want to know more about them, we recommend you check out our article on the top steroids for beginners.

How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System?

Flexing biceps while injecting steroids

Steroids stay in your body for about 4 to 12 hours, depending on the type of steroid you take. The best way to answer this question is through the half-life of steroids.

Half-life is the time it takes for an atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) concentration in blood plasma to reach 50%.

According to ResearchGate, this provides an estimate of how long it will take for the drug to be removed entirely, as well as a timeline for how long it will be detectable on a drug test [6].

The anabolic drug's half-life varies greatly.

Compared to injectable anabolic steroids, oral anabolic steroids of the same dose have shorter half-lives.

Based on my trial period, I can confirm that while the half-lives of the injectables can extend for days, those of the oral steroids only survive for a few hours.

Remember once more that these are only the half-lives of the different drugs.

We found that AAS levels may remain in the system after the half-life values for steroids are reached. This means it's still easy to detect anabolic steroids during drug testing.

That is why I recommend using only top-grade legal steroids with a natural ingredient blend and the correct dosage:

4 Factors That Influence How Long Steroids Stay in Your System

Man preparing syringe on his forearm

How long steroids stay in your system depends on the following factors.

1. Amount and Frequency of Consumption

If you use large amounts of oral steroids often, it'll result in a buildup in the body, which will take longer for it to be completely flushed out of the system.

Taking more steroids means they will stay longer in the system and can be detected in steroid drug tests.

2. Your Metabolic Rate

The steroids will stay in your system for longer if your metabolism is slower.

This is because it'll take more time for the medicine compounds to break down entirely and be absorbed and excreted from the body.

This can be problematic if you undergo frequent drug tests.

3. Age and Health

Group of diverse men showing their backs

The time a steroid and other drugs stay in your system will often increase as you get older and less healthy.

We took voluntary drug tests on our patients and found the younger ones passed the tests 8 hours after consuming the steroids, while the older ones still tested positive.

4. Body and Muscle Mass

Generally, steroids will stay in your system longer if you weigh more.

According to NIH, this is because obese people have more inflammatory molecules in their bodies that interfere with how steroids work [7].

5 Potential Side Effects of Steroids

Man measuring his blood pressure

Steroids can take your weight-lifting game to the next level, but here are some potential side effects of using and abusing illegal steroids that can be bad for you.

1. Cardiovascular Diseases

Even in athletes under 30, steroid use has been linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders.

Some of these are:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Heart attacks
  • Artery damage
  • Strokes

Research from ClinMed shows that steroids raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and decrease high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This encourages the onset of cardiovascular disease [8].

Atherosclerosis, a disorder in which fatty particles are accumulated inside arteries and impair blood flow, is more likely to occur in those with high LDL and low HDL levels.

2. Increased Risk of Infections

Many users of injectable anabolic steroids might exchange infected needles with others or employ non-sterile injection methods.

This increases the likelihood that these steroid users may contract viruses that can cause death, like HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Also, anabolic steroids decrease the immune system, making illnesses worse.

I always advise my injectable steroid patients to use sterile and clean needles.

3. Hormonal Imbalances

Portrait of man popping at acne

Steroid use disrupts the body's natural hormone production, leading to decreased testicular function. According to NIH, this can cause weight gain, low sperm count, and testicular shrinkage [9].

Our experiments with male patients over six months revealed side effects like male-pattern baldness and breast development.

According to ResearchGate, anabolic steroids might also heighten testicular cancer risk, especially when mixed with insulin-like growth factors [10].

In women, excessive steroid use can lead to more masculine features. We observed reduced body fat and breast size, along with deeper voices in some female patients, indicating steroid use.

Repeated oral steroid use can make some effects permanent. Although unstudied, it's widely believed that anabolic steroids can irreversibly enlarge the clitoris in females.

4. Liver Damage

A man holding his lower stomach due to liver pain

The misuse of liver-damaging steroids has been linked to tumors, liver damage, and a rare disorder called peliosis hepatis, in which the liver develops blood-filled cysts.

According to NIH, the cysts can burst, leading to internal bleeding and, in extreme circumstances, death [11].

5. Stiff and Stunted Skeletal Muscle

The growth spurt that occurs throughout puberty and adolescence is typically triggered by escalating testosterone levels and other sex hormones.

These increased testosterone levels also send signals to limit growth.

When a child or adolescent uses anabolic steroids, the artificially elevated sex hormone levels can cause the bones to cease growing before they should .

Evidence from NIH points to stiffer tendons in weightlifters who abuse anabolic steroids, which may enhance their risk of tendon injury [12].

Alternatives to Steroid Use

For individuals seeking to enhance physical performance or manage medical conditions without the risks associated with steroids, there are several safer alternatives:

  1. Natural supplements: Supplements like creatine, whey protein, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can aid in muscle growth and recovery. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D are also beneficial for overall health.
  2. SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulators): While still under research and not without potential side effects, SARMs are being studied as a possible safer alternative to steroids. They are designed to selectively target muscle and bone tissue.
  3. Peptide hormones: Substances like human growth hormone (HGH) and erythropoietin (EPO) are used in certain medical conditions. However, their use in sports is regulated due to potential side effects and ethical concerns.
  4. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): For those with hormone deficiencies, HRT under medical supervision can be a safe way to manage conditions like testosterone deficiency.
  5. Exercise and diet: A well-structured exercise program combined with a balanced diet can significantly improve physical performance and muscle growth naturally.

FAQs

How Long Does It Take to Flush Natural Steroids From Your System?

It takes 15 to 22 hours to flush natural steroids from your system.

How Long Do the Side Effects of Steroids Last After Stopping?

Side effects of steroids last between 7 to 14 days after stopping the use.

How Long Does It Take 40 mg of Prednisone to Get Out of Your System?

It takes 40mg of Prednisone about 14-21 hours to get out of your system. However, this is just an average estimation because the time can vary depending on age, health, and weight.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-steroids-101
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482418/
  3. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/91445
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17530941/
  5. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01417364
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291388157_Bigger_Faster_Stronger_An_Overview_of_Anabolic_Androgenic_Steroids_and_their_Use_and_Impact_on_the_Sport_Industry
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507106/
  8. https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/ijsem/international-journal-of-sports-and-exercise-medicine-ijsem-4-109.php
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3255409/
  10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6456799_Doping_with_growth_hormoneIGF-1_anabolic_steroids_or_erythropoietin_is_there_a_cancer_risk
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548931/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206906/
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About The Author

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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