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Anavar (Oxandrolone)

John Mcdonald provides an overview of the side effects of Anavar (Oxandrolone) in athletes.

Oxandrolone (better known as Anavar) is an anabolic steroid taken by some athletes, looking to get an edge on their competition. Anavar today is a banned substance (in the US and many other countries) and is illegal to possess without a prescription from your doctor. Thus the only way to legally take Anavar is to have a medical reason (such as an infection or a muscle-wasting disease).

However, this does not stop athletes from taking and reaping the benefits of Anavar. It is well-known for significantly increasing strength, lean mass while reducing body fat in users. One of the unique characteristics of oxandrolone is its ability to increase muscle mass without gaining water or fat. This is contrary to many other bulking compounds which can leave you feeling puffy or bloated (not ideal for an athlete).

Females can also take the drug knowing they will not experience excessively masculine features, due to the steroid's low virilization activity. Women can also expect to build more muscle compared to men on Anavar.

It is clear why sportsmen and women are tempted to use Anavar, in conjunction with other Anabolic steroids. In this article, we are going to discuss the dangers that oxandrolone can pose to athletes' health.

Anavar Side Effects

Low Testosterone

Anavar will spike testosterone levels in users. Research has shown that it will suppress test levels significantly post-cycle. Scientist, William Llewellyn concluded in his book Anabolics, that Anavar could shut down T levels by 25-60% depending on the dose. 80mg was the culprit for the most significant decline in testosterone, while modest doses (20-40mg) saw decreases of 25-30%.

It can take several months for an athlete's natural testosterone production to recover back to normal levels. During this period, the athlete's training will not be optimal, due to the person experiencing less aggression, endurance, strength, energy levels, and power. These are all symptoms of decreased testosterone levels. The person's mood is also likely to suffer due to testosterone being responsible for mental well-being.

LDL Cholesterol Levels

An Anavar cycle will spike an athlete's LDL cholesterol levels. This is the wrong kind of cholesterol that can clog arteries and increase the chance of arteriosclerosis. This, in turn, will increase blood pressure and increase the likelihood of heart disease.

Although Anavar is thought to be a mild steroid, this effect on cholesterol is significant. William Llewellyn writes that a small dose of Anavar (20mg) administered for 12 weeks has been shown to reduce HDL levels by 30%. 80mg of Anavar was sufficient enough to slash HDL levels by 50%. Consequently, LDL levels rise by 30-33% when taking 40mg and 80mg doses.

This potential adverse effect on blood flow is less than ideal for endurance athletes, as exceptional circulation/oxygen supply to the muscles is needed for optimal performance.

Liver Damage

Anavar is a C17-alpha-alkylated steroid. This means that you can take it in tablet form, without it being deactivated by the liver. As a result, a high proportion of the drug will enter straight into the bloodstream. The benefit to C17-alpha-alkylated compounds is that there is no need to take injections. The drawback is - they are taxing on the liver.

Anavar is not a particularly hepatotoxic steroid (compared to other anabolics); however, if it is abused by athletes taking mega doses, or excessive cycles, liver failure is possible.

Research published in Anabolics shows that a daily dose of 20mg has little effect on liver enzymes. However, a moderate dose of 40mg spiked liver enzymes by 30-50%. Users taking 80mg of Anavar a day saw a 50-100% increase.

Athletes need to look after their liver, as the main supply of glycogen is stored in the organ. When training intensely, blood sugar levels can become low, making such glycogen stores very beneficial to performance.

Virilization in Women

As previously mentioned, virilization symptoms in women occur less, due to Anavar being mildly androgenic. However, virilization/masculine features are still possible in females taking Anavar, especially if high doses are taken.

Such symptoms include:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Deeper voice
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Hair growth

If a woman develops the above symptoms, it can be embarrassing to the athlete, as spectators may spot such changes, causing negative speculation and controversy.


Although Anavar has several positive effects on performance and is a relatively mild anabolic-androgenic steroid, it still poses various health risks to athletes.

It is also worth pointing out that Anavar may negatively affect performance in some circumstances, as when users cycle off the drug, the body will shift into a catabolic environment; where essential hormones (such as testosterone) are sapped.

It would be great for all sports if all athletes could remain natural, creating fair competition, while safeguarding their long-term health.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • McDONALD, J. (2019) Anavar (Oxandrolone) [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

John Mcdonald is an English bodybuilder and ex semi-professional soccer player (at youth level). In his spare time, he also enjoys playing tennis with his wife and researching about AAS.