Diagnosis and Management of Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Use

Diagnosis and Management of Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Use / Bradley D. Anawalt. -  (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 104 (2019) 7 (July); p. 2490-2500)

  • PMID: 30753550
  • PMCID: PMC6517163
  • DOI: 10.1210/jc.2018-01882


Context: The lifetime prevalence of anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use is estimated at 1% to 5% worldwide. AAS use occurs primarily male elite athletes and men who want a muscular appearance. The evidence for effective, safe management of AAS cessation and withdrawal is weak.

Design: Key studies were extracted from PubMed (1990-2018) and Google Scholar with reference searches from relevant retrieved articles.

Results: The proven adverse effects of AASs include suppression of the gonadal axis and infertility, hirsutism and defeminization in women, and erythrocytosis. Alkylated AASs that are taken orally may cause hepatopathy. There is an association between high-dosage AAS use and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Clues for AAS use include very low serum high-density cholesterol and sex hormone-binding globulin concentrations and unexplained erythrocytosis. For elite athletes, the biological passport (monitoring of blood or urinary androgen and androgen precursor concentrations after determining the athlete's baseline) is useful for detecting AAS use. For nonelite athletes, the best method to confirm AAS use is to inquire in a nonjudgmental manner. Cessation of chronic AAS use is associated with a withdrawal syndrome of anxiety and depression.

Conclusions: Men who use AASs <1 year typically recover normal hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis function within 1 year after cessation. Men who have infertility due to high-dosage AAS use ≥1 year might benefit from short-term treatment with clomiphene or human chorionic gonadotropin.

Original document


11 February 2019
Anawalt, Bradley D.
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University of Washington (UW)
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5 November 2020
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16 November 2020
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