What effects do anabolic steroids have on female sexual characteristics?
Steroids cause sex-specific side effects in women. High dose anabolics reduce breast size in women(1), cause the growth of facial and chest hair,(1,2) and may lead to menstrual irregularities.(2) Continued use leads to irreversible deepening of the voice(1,2) and enlargement of the clitoris, the female sex organ similar to the male penis.(1-3) An increase in female sex drive occurs in some, but not all, anabolic steroid abusers.(4) Male pattern baldness may also occur in female steroid abusers(1) although it is unclear whether hair growth resumes in women when steroids are stopped.(2,3) While taking steroids, female athletes may accept these physical changes because of changes in mental attitude brought about by steroid use.(5) When the steroids are stopped, "body changes may become intolerable."(5)
1. Yesalis CE, Wright JE, Bahrke MS. Epidemiological and policy
issues in the measurement of the long term health effects of
anabolic-androgenic steroids. Sports Medicine 1989
2. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93.
3. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews
4. Choi PYL, Parrott AC, Cowan D. Adverse behavioural effects of
anabolic steroids in athletes: a brief review. Clin Sports Med
5. Hickson RC, Ball KL, Falduto MT. Adverse effects of anabolic
steroids. Med Toxicol Adv Drug Experience 1989 Jul-
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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