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

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 12, 2023
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Based on conversations that I've had with athletes who have taken anabolic androgenic steroids for muscle mass 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 an anabolic steroid used for muscle growth, bone development, and weight gain, with common side effects including liver and heart issues, and irregular menstrual cycles.
  • Anavar differs from testosterone in its synthetic nature and specific impact on muscle and bone growth, with less influence on male characteristics.
  • Statistically, Anavar is detectable in drug tests for up to 18 days, posing risks for athletes in sports with frequent testing, according to the research published in PubMed.
  • In my opinion, focusing on a healthy diet and exercise, supplemented by natural testosterone boosters, is a safer and more effective approach than using steroids like Anavar.

What Does Anavar Do To The Body?

A muscular man lifting weights

Developed in the 1960s and FDA-approved, Anavar is an anabolic steroid used for promoting muscle growth, bone development, and weight gain.

From my time in the ring, I've seen how Anavar boosts muscle growth and bone development.

It's primarily prescribed for osteoporosis-related bone pain and helps patients recover weight after serious illnesses or surgeries [1].

Anavar was once used to promote growth in children, but now growth hormones are more commonly used for this purpose.

Its popularity in the fitness black market stems from its specific effectiveness in muscle growth, making it a preferred choice among female athletes due to its more anabolic than androgenic properties, according to the NIH [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?

In my training experience, I've learned that 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, according to the MedlinePlus [4].

Testosterone promotes muscle gains, but it also has the androgenic anabolic steroid hormone 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

As an MMA fighter, I know Anavar is banned in professional sports, being a schedule III controlled substance.

Anavar's role extends beyond bodybuilding into various sports arenas, where its benefits for lean muscle gain are weighed against ethical and legal considerations, especially in professional sports where steroid use is a contentious topic.

Anavar's appeal to athletes lies in its significant impact on muscle growth, strength, and endurance. However, it's detectable in drug tests, often for up to 18 days, making its use risky in sports where testing is frequent, according to the research published in PubMed [6].

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

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

In the fighting community, I've heard that 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.

Understanding the long-term effects of Anavar use is as crucial as its immediate benefits, emphasizing the importance of post-cycle therapy to ensure hormonal balance and health sustainability after the steroid cycle concludes.

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, such as WebMD, 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, according to the MedlinePlus [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

From what I've seen, getting Anavar, a controlled substance, is tough without a prescription, and it's rarely the first treatment option.

Athletes using Anavar often obtain it through the black market, risking legal consequences.

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 for men 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:


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.


  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/076761lbl.pdf
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/anabolic-steroids
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1959346/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/anabolicsteroids.html
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/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://academic.oup.com/ejendo
  10. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-53226/anavar-oral/details
  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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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
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.
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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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