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What Is Anavar? (Effectiveness, Side Effects, Availability)

Jordan Smith
Published by Jordan Smith
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 29, 2022

Based on conversations that I've had with athletes who have taken anabolic steroids for muscle growth and performance gains, I have found that a lot of them resort to a drug called Anavar.

The main reason they gave me was that it's a safe drug with almost no side effects.

But such comments made me immediately suspicious.

Doctors will tell you that there is no such thing as a completely safe steroid, and that's why it should only be administered by a doctor.

Quick Summary

  • Anavar is a steroid that was developed in the 1960s and has been used to treat numerous health conditions in humans.
  • Athletes, especially female ones, seem to prefer Anavar as it seems to provide more of an anabolic than androgenic effect.
  • While liver problems seem to be less likely with Anavar, there are still risks and other side effects to deal with.

What Does Anavar Do To The Body?

A muscular man lifting weights

Anavar is an anabolic steroid that can promote weight gain, muscle growth, and bone development.

It was first developed in the 1960s and was approved for medical use by the FDA.

The main reason doctors prescribe this drug is to relieve bone pain that can be the result of osteoporosis.

And people that need to gain weight after prolonged illnesses, significant surgeries, or chronic infection can also benefit from this steroid [1].

It has also been used in children to promote growth, but in recent years, the use of growth hormones has replaced Anavar for child treatment.

One of the main reasons that Anavar has found a place in the black markets of the fitness industry is because of its isolated effectiveness in triggering increased muscle growth.

It seems to be the more popular option for female athletes as it seems to have a more anabolic than androgenic effect [2]. Essentially, it has less of an impact on sex characteristics and more on muscles.

Another reason this has been such a successful drug is that it has been shown to be less toxic for the liver [3]. However, most studies have looked at short-term use, and people have assumed that less toxic means that it won't lead to liver failure at all.

How Are Anavar And Testosterone Different?

The main difference between Anavar and testosterone is that the first is a synthetic steroid, and the second one is naturally produced by the body.

They also trigger different responses in the body. Anavar will predominantly impact the growth of human tissue like muscles and bones [4].

Testosterone does the same, but it also has the androgenic effect that impacts male characteristics like facial hair, deep voice, and sex drive [5].

The main idea behind the development of Anavar was to make it more potent than testosterone from an anabolic perspective and less potent for androgenic effects. And it's that effect that made it such a popular medical drug for over 30 years.

Is Anavar Banned In Sports?

Two persons running outside

Yes, Anavar is banned in professional sports and is classed as a schedule III controlled substance.

The potent effect on muscle growth, strength, and endurance is what attracts so many athletes to this steroid, even though it's easily picked up during random drug testing.

Some studies have shown that it can be detected for at least 18 days.

And even when the body processes it quickly, there is enough left to potentially pick up in testing [6].

This should be enough of a reason to avoid taking it as a professional athlete, but I feel users should be much more worried about the numerous side effects this drug can potentially cause.

What Are The Side Effects?

A man holding his elbow

Anavar has many different side effects, even though a lot of people in forums and private Facebook groups talk about how safe it is and that there aren't any serious symptoms associated with it.

However, that's often a conclusion that doesn't look at the true reality of side effects.

Here are the known unlikely but serious signs, and anyone that encounters these needs to seek immediate medical attention.

Liver Problems

While original testing revealed that there was no evidence of liver disease in patients, this was mainly checked at a normal dosage and for relatively short periods of time. Another later study revealed high liver enzyme levels, especially with higher doses and prolonged intake [7].

That should be enough to raise concerns with people who take Anavar thinking it's completely safe.

“Anabolic steroid use causes decreased levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, increased levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and serious liver toxicity within 12 weeks.”

- Carl Grunfeld, MD, ucsf.edu

Heart Disease

Anavar was designed for short-term use, and medical resources point out that abusing this drug with high doses and prolonged intake may also cause cardiovascular issues [8].

This should be concerning as the drug was never tested for long-term use, and it's unclear how severe heart issues might be when taking it regularly over several months.

Improper Bone Growth

A picture of a knee with xray vision of the bone

While Anavar is aimed at helping with improved bone density, there are medical guidelines that suggest careful monitoring of bone growth [9].

This would be particularly concerning for younger athletes tempted by steroid use.

There is also no long-term data on how high doses and extended intake periods impact bone tissue.

Prolonged Erections

You might think that a big boost in libido and bedroom activity might be a great thing to be reporting. But overuse of anabolic steroids can cause a painful or prolonged erection [10]. And that's also definitely not a good thing to happen when you're trying to focus on your squats or standing in a queue at Starbucks.

Nausea And Vomiting

Another issue to be aware of that seems to be common with Anavar tablets is nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps [11]. These can even extend to flu-like symptoms and seem to be correlated with taking larger doses.

It's unclear how long this can last, but it's not a good sign to have such reactions to steroid tablets.

Irregular Menstrual Periods

Even though this drug is quite popular with women, there is evidence that those who take Anavar can experience sudden changes in their menstrual cycles [12].

This can be a mix of early periods or particularly heavy ones that can be quite disruptive.

Impact on Breast Milk Production

While there haven't been detailed studies of how Anavar might affect milk production and if it can pass on to the infant, the official medical recommendation is not to take Anavar when breastfeeding [13].

Availability Of The Drug

A doctor giving a prescription

Anavar is a controlled medical drug and is only available on prescription after consulting with a doctor.

It's also generally not a first treatment option, meaning that doctors aim to try other less invasive drugs first.

Athletes taking Anavar would likely be sourcing it on the black market, which could get them in trouble.

And the thing I always tell my clients and readers is that they are much better off focusing on a great diet and exercise routine and then maybe taking some natural and legal testosterone boosters to give them the edge.

These legal steroids take longer to work, but within a few months, you should be able to boost your testosterone production safely and naturally and see much better muscle development.

Related Articles:

FAQs

How Does Anavar Make You Feel?

Anavar can make you feel more energized and powered up during physical activities. This strength boost, along with faster muscle building, is what athletes tend to look for, but it comes with side effects that can be severe with long-term use.

What’s the Half-Life of Anavar?

Anavar has a half-life of about ten hours. However, it can take several more weeks for the body to filter out and metabolize the remaining amount. And that's why it can be picked up with certain laboratory tests for many weeks.

Staying Away From Steroids Like Anavar

Even when you hear people talk about how safe Anavar is, you have to put that in perspective of the real side effects. Yes, it's safer than many other steroid drugs, but that doesn't mean Anavar drug abuse is without risk.

A much better approach is to first get your diet and exercise routine perfectly set for your fitness goals. Then you can add some natural and legal steroids to help things move along faster.

These supplements are typically based on vitamins, minerals, and herbs combined to trigger a natural testosterone production response.

It can significantly speed things up for you in a legal way and without all the unnecessary health risks.


References:

  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/076761lbl.pdf
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1959346/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/anabolicsteroids.html
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/medications/testosterone--what-it-does-and-doesnt-do
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23877183/
  7. https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00003495-200464070-00004 
  8. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-53226/anavar-oral/details
  9. https://eje.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/eje/59/2/acta_59_2_013.xml
  10. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-53226/anavar-oral/details/list-sideeffects
  11. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604024.html
  12. https://www.news9.com/story/5e987639cc9ea5695635cd2e/anavar-for-women:-the-effects-of-oxandrolone-for-weight-loss
  13. https://www.ndrugs.com/?s=anavar&t=pregnancy

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