Steroids Stay in Your System

Have you ever considered what exactly takes place in your body from the moment steroids enters your system? These complex chemical compounds each have different properties, functions, and physical outcomes on your body.

Corticosteroids and anabolics are the two primary types of synthetic steroids. The first treats inflammation, while the latter acts as a muscle stimulant. Continue reading if you’re curious about the side effects and duration these bad boys stay in your system. We will also explore helpful options for drug testing.

What Are Steroids?

What Are Steroids

The term “steroid” can refer to naturally occurring hormones or synthetic (man-made) drugs that mimic hormones.

We can split steroid hormones into three main categories based on their properties and physiological functions.

  • Sex hormones – estrogens, progestogens, and androgens
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids – male sex hormones, including testosterone
  • Corticosteroids – mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids

How Do They Work?

How Do They Work

Your body uses steroids to support an array of physiological processes, including growth, reproduction, stress response, immune response, memory response, energy metabolism, and homeostasis [1].

Synthetic steroids are produced to mimic the physiological effects of naturally occurring steroid hormones.

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), or anabolic steroids for shorts, are a synthetic form of the primary male sex hormone testosterone [2]. Anabolics are essentially what most people refer to as “steroids” or “roids.”

Anabolic steroids act as a stimulant to boost protein synthesis, resulting in increased muscle tissue, body mass, and physical performance. Athletes and bodybuilders often use anabolic steroids to build muscle and stimulate muscle repair and recovery [3]. Unfortunately, these performance-boosting powers properties have led to a spiraling increase in misuse and abuse.

However, it is also used for non-athletic purposes. For example, carious medical conditions warrant anabolic steroid use, including growth problems and muscle-wasting diseases like AIDS, cancer, AIDS, congestive heart failure, renal failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [4].

Corticosteroids (Cortisone)

Corticosteroids are synthetic medications that act as an anti-inflammatory. They mimic the effects of cortisol – the natural steroid hormone released by the adrenal glands to reduce inflammation [5].

Corticosteroids affect the process known as a ‘cascade of events.’ For inflammation to develop in the body, a series of events first take place. Corticosteroids interfere with and inhibit these processes by suppressing multiple inflammatory genes and increasing anti-inflammatory protein synthesis, which suppresses inflammation [6].

Corticosteroids like cortisone, prednisone, hydrocortisone, etc., are prescribed for a broad range of conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Allergic rhinitis & Hives
  • Atop eczema, Psoriasis, & Lupus
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Ulcerative colitis &Crohn’s Disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tuberculosis Addison’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • And more

Corticosteroids are available in several forms, including:

  • Tablets (oral steroids)
  • Inhalers –mouth or nasal sprays
  • Injections – can be injected into blood vessels, joints, or muscles
  • Lotions, gels, and creams (topical steroids)

What Are The Benefits of Using Steroids?

Benefits of Using Steroids

Anabolic steroids and corticosteroids can offer many health benefits if taken responsibly. Here are some of the benefits of steroids.

1. Increased Muscle Mass

Anabolic steroids are often used (and misused) due to their ability to promote protein synthesis and muscle growth. Many people take them to improve their physical appearance.

Anabolic steroids combined with strength training increase muscle size though hypertrophy and the formation of new muscle fibers [7].

When you take anabolic steroids, the body breaks the drug into tiny molecules which bind with your androgen receptors. Once the androgen receptors are activated, protein synthesis increases and causes the body to build more muscle –  this metabolic phase is known as anabolism (hence the name).

2. Increased Strength

Many individuals that participate in strength sports like bodybuilding or weightlifting use anabolic steroids to increase their strength.

According to a study, athletes using anabolic steroids can experience strength gains of about 5 to 20% of their initial strength and weight gains of 4.5 to 11 lbs, which is believed to be attributed to an increase in lean body mass [8].

Many bodybuilders utilize the strategy “stacking,” which involves mixing multiple anabolic steroids for faster results.

3. Improved Athletic Performance

Athletes constantly seek tips and tricks to get an edge over their fierce competition. While many athletes rely on nutrition and advanced strength and conditioning training, some take an extra step and revert to performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids aid muscle recovery after workouts by speeding the muscle’s recovery of force-generating capacity [9]. Some of the androgen receptors inhibit glucocorticoid hormones, another type of steroid, which speeds up the catabolic phase of metabolism. This ultimately means your muscles take less time to recover between workouts [10].

4. Reduced Symptoms of Asthma

Severe asthma attacks often cause inflammation in the airway afterward, causing trouble breathing.

Doctors often prescribe corticosteroids (cortisone-based steroids) like prednisone and dexamethasone for acute asthma exacerbations [11]. The fast-acting drug helps reduce the body’s inflammatory response to an asthma attack.

5. Reduced Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

Rhinitis and nasal allergies affect up to 30% of adults and 40% of kids in the United States [12]. Intranasal steroids are currently the most effective drugs for treating allergic rhinitis symptoms [13].

Nasal corticosteroids are sprayed directly into the nasal passage to decrease inflammation and help relieve congestion in your nose.

6. Increased Energy Levels

Anabolic steroids are synthetic forms of testosterone. An increase in testosterone contributes to a rise in energy, libido, and muscle gain [14].

7. Improved Mood and Confidence

Individuals using anabolic steroids can experience an increased level of perceived confidence and performance prowess. They also experienced feelings of euphoria [15].

8. Possible Weight Loss

While prednisone commonly causes weight gain, some anabolic steroids like clenbuterol, winsol, and anvarol are designed to help you burn fat without compromising muscle mass in the process.

9. Possible Increased Muscle Density

Several health conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, AIDS, kidney and liver disease, congestive heart failure, and cancer, can cause muscle wasting.

Although not common, anabolic steroids can be used as an effective treatment in preserving muscle mass [16].

10. Possible Improvements in Performance in Bodybuilding and Other Sports

Many sports that require explosive power rely on doping (using anabolic steroids) paired with high-strength and intensity training to increase muscle mass and strength.

Athletes in contact sports or those requiring intense physical activity and training also rely on anabolic steroids and growth hormones to enhance performance and speed muscle recovery from injuries [17].

What Are The Side Effects of Using Steroids?

Anabolic steroids’ long list of benefits has created an abusive culture in sports like bodybuilding, weightlifting, and cycling. In addition, despite the advantages of using corticosteroids, they also don’t come without several drawbacks.

 Here are the side effects of using steroids.  

1. High Blood Pressure

A reported side effect of cortisone-based steroids like prednisone is increased blood pressure due to fluid retention and weight gain [18].

Anabolic steroids combined with high-resistance exercise may increase your blood pressure and the size of your heart’s left ventricle. This can put you at risk of high blood pressure, left ventricular hypertrophy, and heart disease [19].

2. Liver Damage

Anabolic drug abuse harms your health and can cause various side effects, including liver injuries, which can even be life-threatening [20]. There are four forms of liver injury from AAS drugs: transient serum enzyme elevations, acute cholestatic syndrome, chronic vascular injury to the liver, and hepatic tumors.

Corticosteroids also severely impact the liver, particularly when you consume them long-term and in high doses [21].

3. Mood swings

High doses of anabolic steroids can cause mood swings, including increased aggression, impulsivity, mania, hypomania, anxiety, and depression [22].

Corticosteroids reduce serotonin, the hormone responsible for mood regulation. Excessive amounts of corticosteroids can cause mood fluctuations, depression, and anxiety [23].

4. Diabetes

Corticosteroids can lead to diabetes – often referred to as “steroid diabetes.”

Individuals on steroids who are already at risk of type II diabetes or need to consume steroids for long periods are highly susceptible to developing steroid-induced diabetes [24].

5. Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness is one of the major concerns of using corticosteroids like prednisone long-term. This poses a significant problem for patients needing cortisone-based steroids for chronic conditions.

Prednisone can directly cause myopathy – atrophy of muscle fibers – leading to muscle weakness [25].

6. Skin Rashes

Topical steroids are highly effective at treating multiple inflammatory conditions. However, potential side effects can include skin rashes like allergic contact dermatitis, tachyphylaxis, and rosacea from prolonged use or a mild allergic reaction [26].

7. Joint Pain

Rapid withdrawal symptoms of cortisone-based steroids can cause symptoms including joint pain, fatigue, muscle tenderness, muscle stiffness, and fever [27].

8. Loss of Bone Density

Corticosteroids can lead to osteoporosis, bone loss, and broken bones when medications are used in high doses. The steroids significantly impact how the body uses vitamin D and calcium to build and repair bones [28].

9. Infertility

Anabolic steroids can decrease sperm production, reduce testes size, and even cause infertility [29].

Females can also experience fertility problems due to irregular menstrual cycles disrupting the maturation and release of eggs.

10. Stroke

Anabolic steroid misuse has been associated with cardiovascular diseases, including risks of artery damage, strokes, and heart attacks.

Some of these severe side effects have been noticed in athletes younger than 30 [30].

How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System?

Steroids aren’t created equally. Some remain in the user’s body for around 4 to 5 hours, while others can stay in the system for up to two weeks.

Other factors that also influence how long steroids stay in your system include:

  • Your metabolic process
  • Age
  • Nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Health conditions (especially liver and renal health)
  • Use of any medications

A drug’s “half-life” refers to the duration required for the active substance to reduce by 50% in the user’s body. It can vary between several hours to days and sometimes weeks.

Orally administered steroids have shorter half-lives, only lasting several hours, while injectable steroids have long half-lives that may last for days. Injected steroids typically remain in the body for longer than orally administered steroids as they have an ester attached to them.

Corticosteroids Half-Life

Here are a few examples of corticosteroids half-lives [31]

Up 12 hoursCortisone Cortisol
18 to 36 hoursPrednisone Prednisolone Triamcinolone
36 to 54 hoursBetamethasone Dexamethasone

Here are a few examples of anabolic steroids half-lives [32]

Up to 8 hoursAndriol Testosterone undecanoate Dianabol oral Halotestin Primobolan tablets Winstrol tablets
9 to 16 hoursAnavar Anadrol
2 to 3 daysDianabol injectable Masteron propionate Trenbolone Winstrol Depot injectable
4 to 9 daysEquipoise Masteron enanthate
More than 10 daysDeca Durabolin Primobolan Depot injectable

Take note that after the steroids reach their half-life point, levels of steroids may still be present in your system.

Tips on How to Pass a Steroid Test

The range of steroid detectability times starts with as little as a couple of days and lasts long as 18 months after the last time using the substance.

Most sports authorities use urine tests to detect performance-enhancing drugs, which typically have a smaller detectability window than blood and hair tests.

Common Steroid Detectability Times

Here are the common steroid detectability times based on a urine screening, given that it is the most common testing method used [32].

Up to 1 weekAndriol Testosterone Suspension (No Ester) Clenbuterol
Up to 1 monthAnavar Arimidex Winstrol (Oral) Testosterone Propionate HCG
More than 1 monthAnadrol Deca Durabolin Dianabol- Halotestin Equipoise Primobolan Depot injectable Masteron Enanthate Winstrol Depot injectable Trenbolone Testosterone Testosterone Cypionate Testosterone Enanthate

Tips on How to Pass a Steroid Test:

Here are some tips on how to pass a steroid test:

1. Stop taking steroids at least two weeks before the test

2. Drink lots of water and eat well to increase the body’s natural cleansing process

3. Take natural supplements to increase cleansing

4. Exercise to boost natural cleansing

5. Try a natural cleansing diet

6. Sleep well to increase cleansing

7. Use a cleansing supplement

8. Take a cleansing bath

9. Use detoxifying body products

10. Relax and meditate


Steroids stay in your system for different amounts of time, ranging from 4 hours to 2 weeks.

Physiological factors like age, genetics, health conditions and other medications also impact how long steroids stay in your system.

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