How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System + Types & Factors 

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By Robert James

We’ve all been there–wanting that extra push to crush it at the gym. We try everything, from strict diets and crazy workouts to new fitness routines. Some people even consider steroids, but that can get dicey.

That leaves you wondering: “How long do steroids stay in your system?” Well, steroids can stay in your system up to 1 month, depending on the type of steroid you’ve used and your body system. 

In this article, we have the lowdown on everything you need to know about steroids, from what affects how long they stay in your system to why the whole thing can be a bit of a guessing game.

What Are Steroids?

The term “steroids” refers to a category of supplements that are often synthetic, meaning they’re created in a lab and resemble the male sex hormone testosterone or similar hormones called “androgens.” 

Steroids can significantly impact the human body, potentially improving endurance, muscle growth, and overall athletic performance. However, these effects come with potential risks that we’ll explore further.

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Types of Steroids

The term steroids can be a little confusing because it refers to two different types of supplements:

  • Anabolic Steroids

These drugs mimic testosterone, the body’s natural muscle-building hormone. By giving your body a testosterone boost, steroids can help you pack on muscle mass faster.

Ever wonder how some athletes get so ripped? Anabolic steroids are a big part of that story.

  • Corticosteroids

These are anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and vasculitis. They work by reducing inflammation in the body.

How Do Steroids Work?

Steroids influence the body through various mechanisms, with anabolic steroids offering specific benefits for muscle growth and performance enhancement.

  • Neuronal Stimulation: Anabolic steroids stimulate neurons, particularly those involved in physical activity. This enhanced neurological activity may lead to individuals engaging in more intense training, ultimately leading to increased muscle mass.
  • Androgen Receptor Proliferation: These steroids are said to promote the multiplication of androgen receptors within muscle cells. More receptors translate to a greater capacity for muscle growth signaling.
  • Growth Hormone Insulin Activation: Anabolic steroids are said to activate the growth hormone and IGF-1 pathways, which are crucial in muscle tissue repair and growth after exercise.

By influencing these pathways, anabolic steroids can accelerate muscle growth and recovery. 

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How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System?

How long steroids stay in your system depends heavily on the type of steroid you ingest.

  • Anabolic Steroids: These performance-enhancing drugs may linger in your system for weeks, sometimes even months, depending on the specific steroid and factors like dosage and the mode of ingestion into the body (oral or injections).
  • Corticosteroids: These anti-inflammatory drugs typically clear off your system much faster, sometimes within a day or two.

What Is the Half-Life of Steroids?

Half-life represents the time it takes for your body to get rid of half the amount of the drug. So, the shorter the half-life, the faster your body clears it.

Anabolic steroids can be sneaky. Orally ingested steroids might have shorter half-lives (a few hours to a day or two), but they can still linger for weeks, depending on factors like dosage. Injectables take even longer, with half-lives lasting several days.

On the other hand, corticosteroids are faster movers. Their half-lives are typically short; they’re out of your system within a day or two.

Factors That Influence How Long Steroids Stay in Your System

So, we talked about how long steroids can remain in your body, depending on the type. But what else affects how long they stay there? Here are the main reasons:

Amount and Frequency of Consumption

The more steroids you take and the more often you take them, the longer they hold a party in your system. Think of it as overloading your body with guests–it takes more time to get everyone out the door.

Your Metabolic Rate

Your metabolic rate, which involves how efficiently your body converts food into energy in your body, also plays a role. Slower metabolisms take longer to break down and eliminate steroids, so they hang around longer.

Age and Health

As we get older and maybe don’t bounce back quite as quickly, it can take longer to clear steroids from our systems. Younger folks with fewer health concerns tend to process them much faster.

Body Size and Muscle Mass

The bigger you are, the more space there is for steroids to hide. It takes more time for your body to distribute, process, and finally eliminate them.

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Potential Side Effects of Steroids

While steroids might seem like a shortcut to muscle growth, they come with a hefty risk factor. Here’s why you might want to think twice:

Cardiovascular Diseases

Steroids can be like a ticking time bomb for your heart. They can raise your blood pressure, damage your arteries, and even increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Even young athletes are at high risk.[1]

Increased Risk of Infections

Sharing needles to inject steroids is a recipe for disaster. You could be inviting nasty infections like HIV, hepatitis B, and C to the party–not exactly the kind of guests you want.

Hormonal Imbalances

Steroids can wreak havoc on your natural hormone production. For one, it can lead to a condition called “male hypogonadism,” which means your testes aren’t producing enough testosterone [2]. When that happens, guys might experience things like shrunken testicles, lower sperm count, and weight gain [3]

For females taking steroids for women, it can mean developing more masculine features like a deeper voice and increased muscle mass.

Liver Damage

Some steroids can be tough on your liver, increasing your risk of damage, tumors, and even a rare condition called peliosis hepatis–blood-filled cysts that can burst, leading to internal bleeding and, in extreme cases, death [4].

Stiff and Stunted Skeletal Muscle

During puberty, your body uses increasing sex hormones to regulate growth and development. Steroids mess with this delicate process, tricking your bones into stopping growth prematurely. The result? Stiff tendons and stunted muscles–the opposite of what you’re hoping for.

Before we wrap off this section, you should be aware that nowadays there are safer, legal alternatives to steroids which may help you reach the desired result without all these side effects.

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FAQs About Steroids

We’ve gathered the most common questions online about steroids and gave their answers below.

How Long Do Topical Steroids Stay in Your System?

Topical steroids typically clear off your system within a day. This is in contrast to steroids you swallow or inject, which take longer to leave your system.

How Long Do Oral Steroids Stay in Your System?

Oral steroids tend to be detectable for 4-12 hours, but the exact time depends on the type and dose you take.

How Long Do Anabolic Steroids Stay in Your System?

Anabolic steroids can stay in your system for a much longer time, ranging from several days to even weeks. The reason is that they have a longer half-life, and it takes your body a while to break them down and eliminate them. 

How Long Do IV Steroids Stay in Your System?

Intravenous (IV) steroids are fast-acting steroids that get delivered directly into your bloodstream, so they work quickly. However, depending on the specific medication, they typically clear off your system within a few hours to a few days.

How Long Do Steroids Stay In Your System After You Stop Taking Them?

Even after you stop taking steroids, they don’t disappear instantly. The effects and their detectability can linger for several days to even weeks. Remember, the exact timeframe can vary greatly depending on the type of steroid.

How Long Do Inhaled Steroids Stay in Your System?

Inhaled steroids target your lungs directly, meaning minimal amounts enter your bloodstream. Because of this, they tend to clear off your system quickly, usually within a day or two. 

Final Note

Just to recap: How long do steroids stay in your system will depend on the type of steroid you are using and your body system. While corticosteroids can clear off after a few days, anabolic steroids can take up from 1 to several months to be completely gone from your system. 

Understanding the steroids’ half-life along with factors like dosage and your body’s chemistry, helps healthcare professionals and even bodybuilders make informed choices.

The most important takeaway? Weigh the risks against the rewards. Steroids can come with serious side effects that can impact your health long-term. So, before considering them, ensure the potential benefits outweigh the downsides. 

It may also be a good idea to consider safe, legal steroid alternatives like Brutal Force HBulk.

>>Looking for a safe, legal steroid alternative? Consider Brutal Force HBulk

About the Author

Robert James is a full-time freelance writer and editor specializing in the health niche and its ever-expanding sub-niches. As a food and nutrition scientist, he knows where to find the resources necessary to verify health claims.

References

  1. Perry JC, Schuetz TM, Memon MD, Faiz S, Cancarevic I. Anabolic Steroids and Cardiovascular Outcomes: The Controversy. Cureus. 2020 Jul 22;12(7):e9333. doi: 10.7759/cureus.9333. PMID: 32850208; PMCID: PMC7444848.
  2. Rahnema CD, Lipshultz LI, Crosnoe LE, Kovac JR, Kim ED. Anabolic steroid-induced hypogonadism: diagnosis and treatment. Fertil Steril. 2014 May;101(5):1271-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Mar 14. PMID: 24636400.
  3. Kumar P, Kumar N, Thakur DS, Patidar A. Male hypogonadism: Symptoms and treatment. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010 Jul;1(3):297-301. doi: 10.4103/0110-5558.72420. PMID: 22247861; PMCID: PMC3255409.
  4. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012-. Androgenic Steroids. [Updated 2020 May 30]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548931/

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