BodyBuilding | Are Steroids Worth the Risk?

shirtless man with muscles

Bodybuilding, for many people, is the key to coping with the stress of life and building confidence. If you have recently started bodybuilding or are a hardened bodybuilder, the chances are you may have considered or already be using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), most likely some type of anabolic steroid. It is also unlikely that you will seek or have sought any medical advice regarding steroid use.

Harley Street MD is one of the only London clinics providing treatment for steroid use. We believe in personal choice and offer medical tests and results that you can trust. Our goal is to ensure you are aware of how your body is affected by any performance-enhancing drugs you choose to use for whatever reason. We can also guide you through post-cycle therapy (PCT) to prevent loss of muscle mass. Post-cycle therapy is also crucial to help minimise the side effects of steroids and for effective post-cycle healing.

Before we continue, we want to make it clear that we do not promote, encourage or condone the use of anabolic steroids off prescription. As doctors, we know only too well how dangerous and addictive these drugs are and the serious side effects of steroids. But we also recognise that some people will decide the risks are worth the end result, and we want to help you to make educated decisions based on accurate medical information.

Are Steroids Illegal in the UK?

Before reviewing the side effects of steroids, we want to answer a question that we know is important to you. The short answer is steroids are illegal in the UK. Drugs have three classes in the UK: A, B, and C. Each class applies to different types of drugs. Penalties for class A to possess, supply, or produce are the most serious, and class C the least serious. Anabolic steroids are class C drugs. However, unlike all other class C drugs, “it’s not an offence to possess them for personal use” — GOV.UK.

But can you be prosecuted for possessing anabolic steroids for personal use? 

The answer is complicated because importing (even for personal use) or supplying steroids is illegal. This means the onus will be on you to prove you have not imported or supplied or have the intention to supply steroids that are in your possession. If you are charged for exporting, importing, supplying, or manufacturing steroids, you can face up to two years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Steroids and BodyBuilding

One reason steroids became so popular is bodybuilding competitions, where the winner is determined by muscle definition, mass, and size. Considered the most influential person in the bodybuilder community, Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to steroid use.

During an interview on ABC news, Schwarzenegger said,

I have no regrets about it, because at that time, it was something new that came on the market, and we went to the doctor and did it under doctors’ supervision.

Steroids were made illegal in the US when the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 came into force. Yet they are clearly still used in Mr Universe and Mr Olympia, the two well-known competitions for bodybuilding previously won by Schwarzenegger. In the UK, steroid use continues to be popular. Despite the side effects of steroids, bodybuilders, athletes, and men who simply want a more defined and muscular body are still using them.

Types of Anabolic Steroids

There are various types of anabolic steroids and they have different risks. We have reviewed popular steroids and the most serious associated risks and complications below.

Androgen and Anabolic Steroids (AAS)

Nandrolone decanoate is available in injectable form and is often referred to as Deca. This prescription medicine is usually considered safe and is one of the most used AAS in the world. The most common risk of this steroid is liver damage and liver tumours. Brand names include Deca Durabolin, Deca-Durabol, Decaneurabol, and Metadec.

Methandienone is also called D-Bol and is one of the most common oral forms of AAS. It has been linked to liver damage. Brand names include Dianabol, Danabol, Dronabol, Anabol, Averbol, Chinlipan and Metanabol.

Trenbolone is used to increase muscle mass in livestock. It is available in oral and injectable forms but is typically taken by injection, often referred to as Tren injections. One of the most popular steroids, it can cause acute and chronic liver disease and heart disease. Names include trenabol, trienolone, and trienbolone. The veterinary version is called trenbolone acetate.

Stanozolol is often known as a steroid used in horse racing. Available in oral and injectable forms, it can cause liver damage and heart disease. Brand names include Anaysynth, Menabol, Neurabol Caps, Stanol, Stanozolol, Stanztab, Stromba, Strombaject, Tevabolin, Winstrol, and Winstrol Depot. There are also veterinary versions of stanozolol; brand names include Stanabolic, Stargate, Sungate, and Winstrol-V.

Nandrolone is available in oral and injectable forms. This steroid does have associated health benefits, but illicit use increases the possibility of kidney and liver damage, heart disease, and impotence. Also known under formal generic names including nandrolone cyclohexyl propionate, nandrolone decanoate, nandrolone phenpropionate, nandrolone cyclotate, nandrolone laurate, and nandrolone phenylpropionate.

Oxandrolone is known for its use as a steroid in treating AIDS patients suffering from muscle wasting and is available in oral form as tablets. Less toxic than other steroids, it is still harmful and can cause liver damage and heart disease. Brand names include Oxandrin. Antitriol, Anatrophill, Lonavar, Protivar, Vasorome and Lipidex.

Anadrol is one of the oldest forms of steroids, only available in oral form. Sold under the brand name Anadrol-50 many users think using this steroid is safe. However, it can cause liver damage and heart disease when not used as prescribed.

In addition, to the risks stated above, side effects of steroids include:

prostate cancer


erectile dysfunction (ED)

blood clots


man boobs (gynecomastia)

hair loss

severe acne

shrunken testicles

abdominal pain

mood swings




Is there a Safe Way to Take Steroids?

If you are considering whether steroids are worth the risk, you are bound to want to know if there is a safe way to take them. Undoubtedly there is no safe way to take steroids. Even when taken as prescribed, it is not always possible to mitigate the side effects.

If you inject steroids, there are additional risks due to incorrect intramuscular injection techniques, which can damage blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. There is also no way to know that steroids bought on the black market or online are what they are sold as. Many will be fake and contain other ingredients and drugs that could cause significant risks and complications.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Steroids

During the post-cycle healing phase or if you have decided you no longer want to use steroids, you might experience steroid withdrawal symptoms.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:




nausea and vomiting


abdominal pain

weight loss

muscle aches and joint pain

depression and anxiety

mood swings.

Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PED) and Steroids Treatment

The use of steroids can be managed with blood tests to check for potential side effects. This does not make using steroids safe or in any way prevent side effects from occurring or causing serious harm to your health. We provide these tests to give you the most control over the side effects of steroids. Only you can decide if steroids are worth the risk.

Our Complete Health Profile (£195) includes tests that may detect many of the side effects of steroids, including a kidney and liver function test and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. We also provide a Complete Hormone Profile (£165) and post-cycle therapy (PCT) drugs to help you have power over your decisions and health.

At Harley Street MD in London, we do not need a referral from your GP, and you can book any of our services directly. In our clinic, we respect individual choices and ensure everyone is treated without judgement. We understand your frustration and struggle when it comes to minimising risks while using steroids. If you are using steroids, you should get the help of a professional to make sure you don’t do irreparable damage to your body and hormone levels.

We help steroid users with effective medical tests and treatment without judgement. At our clinic in London, we want you to make informed and educated decisions about using anabolic steroids. Book a no-obligation consultation and find out how we can help you be the best you can be.

Founder at Harley St M.D.
Dr. Chia Tan is a UK trained medical doctor that specialises in cosmetic and aesthetic medicine and testosterone replacement therapy. He is qualified as a medical doctor since 2003 and has since trained extensively. He has been featured in several leading magazines as well as invited to appear on TV to discuss aesthetic medicine and the latest cosmetic procedures.
Dr. Chia Tan
Latest posts by Dr. Chia Tan (see all)
rcgp gmc rcs-ed rcgp
gmc rcs-ed rcgp gmc