Men´s experiences of using anabolic androgenic steroids

Men´s experiences of using anabolic androgenic steroids / Annica Börjesson, Margaretha Ekebergh, Marja-Liisa Dahl, Lena Ekström, Mikael Lehtihet, Veronica Vicente. - (International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being 16 (2021) 1 (December); p. 1-11)

  • PMID: 34006211
  • DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2021.1927490


Purpose: Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are used by men for their aesthetic and performance-enhancing effects and are associated with risk for side effects. Our research aims to deepen knowledge and understanding of men´s experiences of using AAS.

Method: This phenomenological study is based on the reflective lifeworld research approach. Lifeworld interviews were conducted with twelve men about their experiences of using AAS.

Results: By using AAS, men strive towards a muscular, strong and athletic ideal. Self-imposed demands, self-discipline and performance accelerate male physical development. The perfect male body ideal thus attained is fragile from both an existential and a biological perspective. The perfect self-image can easily be shattered by adversity. A man's very existence may be jeopardized if the use of AAS is revealed to others or if the body is let down by illness.

Conclusions: Men´s use of AAS is a complex phenomenon. It partly concerns a traditional view of masculinity that is reflected in the community. It requires both broad and deep knowledge and understanding to be able to meet men using AAS in their problems and vulnerability; a meeting that is hampered by their low trust in healthcare, and by the fact that AAS are illegal.

Original document


Research / Study
19 May 2021
Börjesson, Annica
Dahl, Marja-Liisa
Ekebergh, Margaretha
Ekström, Lena
Lehtihet, Mikael
Vicente, Veronica
Other organisations
Högskolan i Borås - University of Borås (UB)
Karolinska Institutet - Karolinska Institute
Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset - Karolinska University Hospital
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
Medical terms
Body image
Health effects
Substance use research
Document category
Scientific article
Document type
Pdf file
Date generated
15 June 2021
Date of last modification
16 December 2021
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