steroids

Bodies, Barbells & Bagels: Part 2

Part 2: PED's, Steroids & the Female Body

After being away from the mic for 6 months, I’m back! And what a real treat it was to make my return as a guest on Bodies, Barbells & Bagels with Alice Round and Sean Mclaney. They let me dive deep into women’s health, menstruation, and steroids - so deep in fact that they turned the conversation into a two part podcast!

Thanks Alice and Sean for a wonderful show! It was a real honour to be a guest on your show.


Check out their show summary below!

In this episode of BBB, we have part 2 of our interview with the female hormone expert- Victoria Felkar, where we discuss all things STEROID related, encompassing contraception, Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's) and even some medications such as Corticosteroids and how they can affect women in both the short and the long term, including potential unwanted negative side effects. DISCLAIMER: We do not condone drug use as Anabolic Androgenic Steroid use is illegal in Australia

PODCAST LINK:

https://bodiesbarbellsbagels.libsyn.com/episode-26-peds-steroids-the-female-body-with-victoria-felkar-part-2

ITUNES:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-26-peds-steroids-female-body-victoria-felkar/id1346601256?i=1000443225383

Learn more about Alice & Sean:

Alice Round
WEB: http://aliceround.com/
IG: @aliround & @mclaneytrained
FB: @aliceroundnutritiontraining
YOUTUBE: Alice Round

Sean Mclaney
IG: @mclaneytrained
FB: Sean Mclaney

Bodies, Barbells & Bagels: Part 1

Part 1: Female Hormones, Menstrual Cycles & Fertility

After being away from the mic for 6 months, I’m back! And what a real treat it was to make my return as a guest on Bodies, Barbells & Bagels with Alice Round and Sean Mclaney. They let me dive deep into women’s health, menstruation, and steroids - so deep in fact that they turned the conversation into a two part podcast!

Thanks Alice and Sean for a wonderful show! It was a real honour to be a guest on your show.


Check out their show summary below!

In this episode of BBB, with the female hormone expert herself- Victoria Felkar, we discuss the variations in women's menstrual cycles. Is there such a thing as a "normal cycle"? We delve into the signs and symptoms of both a typical and atypical flow. From this episode, we want women listening to understand the WHY behind fertility and hormonal issues and offer potential practical strategies to improve their health and wellbeing.

PODCAST LINK:

https://bodiesbarbellsbagels.libsyn.com/episode-25-female-hormones-menstrual-cycles-fertility-with-victoria-felkar-part-1

ITUNES:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-25-female-hormones-menstrual-cycles-fertility/id1346601256?i=1000442834826

Learn more about Alice & Sean:

Alice Round
WEB: http://aliceround.com/
IG: @aliround & @mclaneytrained
FB: @aliceroundnutritiontraining
YOUTUBE: Alice Round

Sean Mclaney
IG: @mclaneytrained
FB: Sean Mclaney

The CK Podcast: The Oral Contraceptive Pill

Finishing up 2018 strong with yet another podcast!

I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Knott about the Oral Contraceptive Pill. I am so grateful to Chris for having me on his show, and asking me some of the best questions I’ve had to date.

Check out his summary of the show below!


“The stigma surrounding male anabolic steroid use is something well and truly still present in society. If a man were to experience unwanted side effects from AAS use he would be labelled as stupid for risking his hormonal health for aesthetic or performance reasons.

This being said, there is little to no difference in the way female contraception is administered to prevent pregnancies. Ovulation is inhibited by disruption of the regular hormonal cycle through the application of exogenous Estrogen and/or Progesterone.

This “can” lead to severe health issues if not treated responsibly through diligent lifestyle choices, I.e. being on top of nutrition, digestion, sleep and stress management.

Interested in learning more? Tune in to my latest podcast with Victoria Felkar for an absolute masterclass in everything you need to know about the oral contraceptive pill.”

PODCAST LINK:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/episodes/879236-the-oral-contraceptive-pill

ITUNES:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-chris-knott-podcast/id1337586535?mt=2

SPOTIFY:

https://open.spotify.com/show/2fngJKF6UUdFKfmRwJKuua



Learn more about The Chris Knott Podcast
IG: @chris_knott_
WEB: http://www.chrisknottpt.com/category/podcast/

EliteFTS: Female Athletes & Exogenous Substances

From your digestion to your sleep to your cognition, exogenous hormone use has dramatic effects on your entire body. However, there is a subconscious idea that when a drug is taken it, it's actions and influence will stay within a tidy little box of ‘intended’ outcomes. The reality is, pharmaceuticals influence nearly every system in your body.

If that wasn’t enough, the chaos effect of a drug must be compounded with other variables such as the fluidity of a women's hormonal life course (puberty, perimenopause), an extraordinarily stressful physiological event (ie. competing or acute illness), or the ongoing multiple small daily stressors, like training at a high capacity without adequate nutrition and sleep. Needless to say, there are so many factors that on their own or together with others, can manifest in immediate, ongoing, and future health consequences.

But, these risks don't just come from drugs used for enhancement purposes either. Although the 'finger' is pointed at anabolic-androgenic steroids for causing massive system-wide dysfunctions within the body, steroids like oral contraceptives - espescially when taken at the beginning of a female's reproductive period - have the capacity to result in lingering effects for health.

Breaking down myths, speaking to the knowledge gap, and critically thinking about the information you read and receive will go a long way in helping to improve the current state of women's health. Blissful, willful and reckless ignorance won’t help the situation, or the women affected by it. Get informed, get critical, and build knowledge by breaking down myths.

Read the full write-up from EliteFTS here.

Write here…

EliteFTS: www.elitefts.com
FB: @elitefts
IG: @elitefts
YT: Dave Tate




EMBODY RADIO: Women Health & Birth Control

It was AMAZING to be back on Embody Radio with the brilliant Emily Duncan. Em is good people, actually she’s the best kind of good people. Her passion and purpose make my heart smile, and I’m so proud of her and all the works she’s doing. Keep on blossoming, my friend. 

I’ll let her cover the summary of Part 1 of the show!


"You guys/gals are in for a treat today... @victoriafelkar was one of the first guests on the show (EP 5 & 6), and she’s back for two more EXCELLENT episodes! Victoria is an interdisciplinary researcher (her research is quite literally entitled “Women and Steroids”) and an all around incredible advocate for women’s health.

Today, part one of our interview does a deep dive on:

  • hormone history and where the gendering of hormones began,

  • the backstory of medicine, sport, sport medicine, endocrinology, and how it ties in to women’s health,

  • just about all you could want to know about menstrual cycles,

  • why menstruation AND ovulation are important to health,

  • outcomes of hormonal contraceptive use,

  • SOOOO much more!

She also provided us with a free and thorough menstrual cycle chart so you can start tracking your own cycle, learn whether/not and when you ovulate, and overall just become a better advocate for your own health.

Click the link in our bio to give this AMAZING episode a listen, and raise your hand 🙋🏻‍♀️ if you’d like to see Victoria as a regular guest on the show!”

ITUNES:

https://itunes.apple.com/…/podca…/embody-radio/id1245411599…

SOUNDCLOUD:

https://soundcloud.com/user-250742329

SPOTIFY:

https://open.spotify.com/episode/4VuquAgPBNlAvS6dqedOdO?si=ddPjkdnCRvuQWjXnq1VEUQ

Learn more about Emily Duncan
www.emilyduncanfitness.com
IG: @em_dunc
FB: @emilyduncanfitness

OPD Podcast - Female Hyperandrogenism

OPD PODCAST #38

This week we were lucky enough to sit down with specialist Victoria Felkar to deep dive into multiple issues a woman may face in their health and physique development journey including birth control, hyperandrogenism and new research in female hormonal health.

EPISODE LINK:

https://www.jjphysique.com/podcast/2018/9/23/female-hyperandrogenism-ft-victoria-felkar

Podcasts App: Optimal Physique Development

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwDgypolfVG3nCfZf_N3XIg

ITUNES:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/optimal-physique-development/id1265819314?mt=2

PLAYER FM:

https://player.fm/series/optimal-physique-development

 

Learn more about Optimal Physique Development Podcast
https://www.jjphysique.com/podcast/

Joe Jeffery
IG: @joejefferyuk
Email: joejefferyuk@gmail.com
www.jjphysique.com

Austin Stout
IG: @austinst8 
Email: datas4@aol.com
www.integratedmandh.com

Dean St Mart
IG: @deanstm 
https://www.youtube.com/user/Deanstm
www.trainedbyjp.com

The Muscle Nerd Podcast: Females on Steroids

The Muscle Nerd Podcast #11

Had an awesome early morning chat with @the_muscle_nerd_podcast. In the episode we spoke about female using performance enhancing drugs or more specifically anabolic steroids. 

I’m a morning person through and through, but a 14 hour time difference meant we had to start recording at 5am. While I always strive to keep things real and make sure anything I put out is organic, authentic and candid, I have a feeling that my #felkaring was extra in this episode! Thanks again Gus for having me on. The iTunes link is in my bio!

 

EPISODE LINK:

http://www.musclenerd.com.au/category/the-muscle-nerd-podcast/

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-muscle-nerd-podcast/id1395050839?mt=2

 

SPOTIFY: 

https://open.spotify.com/episode/4a7n083oVBNMJPaBCtdqTa?si=M_m--Kk2QZGWNzRSeKSnrw

 

 

Learn more about The Muscle Nerd Podcast:
www.musclenerd.com.au
IG: @the_muscle_nerd_podcast

 

The Vanguard Sessions Podcast: Drug Talk

The Vanguard Sessions with Andrew Rose #10

 

Back at podcast guesting thanks to Andy Rose and The Vanguard Sessions!

I first met Andy a few weeks back at the elitefts Sport Performance Summit. I was on stage just about to sit down with the other presenters for a Q&A session, when he introduced himself and asked me if I would be interested in coming on his podcast. In the days following, after exchanging banter and chatting about the current state of the industry, I knew that this was going to be a great podcast experience.

From the pervasive and historical use of drugs in sport, to talking about some of the current issues surrounding anabolics and women's health, we dive into the PED abyss. Thanks again Andy!

 

EPISODE LINK:

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-tapap-8dbc0c

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-vanguard-sessions-podcast/id1350278649?mt=2

 

Andy's Summary: 

I think it's high time we unbury our heads from the sand. Drugs - the performance enhancing kind - are here and they're here to stay. What's not here, unfortunately, is the data needed to help keep us healthy and safe. Sure, we're all getting bigger, faster, and stronger. Are we dying quicker? Are we destroying our bodies faster than we're repairing them? Will we ever have the answers? Or will we keep fumbling around in the dark using anecdotal broscience from some forum our old gym buddy once read on his ex-cousin-in-law's phone? This is a long episode, but I couldn't cut it short. There was way too much to be discussed.  Enjoy.  

 

spartan_2.jpg

 

Learn more about Andy Rose & The Vanguard Sessions podcast:
www.aefit.net
FB: @AndrewRose
IG: @vanguardbarbell
 

 

The Enigma of Anabolics for Her

 

Women & Steroids:
Ignorance & the Enigma of Anabolics for Her.

Lately I've found myself disgusted with the sheer amount of overly simplistic and dangerous discussions of female anabolic-androgen steroid (AAS) use. By no means is this an easy area to unpack. Quite frankly, it's an enigma, and in order to host a responsible conversation requires a lot more than just reciting 'scientific data' like it's gospel.

To begin to understand this massively intricate topic takes challenging certain personal beliefs like biological difference between the sexes, typical “masculine” or “feminine” characteristics, and knowledge about the body itself. It involves understanding physiology, biomedicine, the endocrine system, hormones, and of course androgens specifically, while not forgetting to mix in ‘personalized medicine’ – a method emphasizing evaluation and programming based on the individual and their uniquely dynamic characteristics. It demands a grasp of the physical and chemical properties of AAS, and basic clinical pharmacology of the effects of specific compounds is also essential.

Most critical of all, there needs to be context. Who exactly are we talking about? What other health and performance variables must be considered? What additional factors - whether internal or external to that particular individual's body must be explored? What drugs were used, for how long, and what source are they from? In this conversation, context is everything. 

As an academic researcher I am writing this not as scare tactic. In fact, I’m very critical of, and often appalled by, pseudo-scientific, unethical, and propaganda-like scholarly publications preaching the ‘evils’ of steroid use without citing relevant studies to back such claims. Nothing irks me more than reading information, hearing conversations, and seeing firsthand the damaging results of uneducated and ill-informed bro-pharmacists. I recognize fully the dangerous influence of Dr. Juice – the contest prep cocktail isn’t just a concern for females but all AAS users, but to say it simply – the body is complicated. 

 

Often I see athletes getting so focused on the ‘outside’, that what is happening on the inside gets ignored. At the crux of most sport is the desire to perform, and not just 'good enough' but to excel. To take your body to a new limit - whether it's an achievement of strength, speed or physical appearance. It's ok to want to win. It's ok to push the limits. But we have to start appreciating that by doing so, we alter and modified how well our internal systems can function. No matter how much 'science' or 'evidence' is involved during the process, many times the extent of this is unbeknownst until it's too late.

 

Fem chem.

While AAS are a class of drugs often containing synthetic testosterone, we all have this steroidal hormone flowing naturally in our bodies. Of course there are large variations in natural (endogenous) levels of testosterone. Since we are talking about women, I want to mention a hugely important point – whether genetic or due to other causes, some females have high levels of androgens. Indeed, androgen excess is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age.

Women naturally produce sex steroids in various parts of their body – primarily the adrenal glands and ovaries. Other tissues such as fat and skin can also assist in converting weak androgens to stronger ones. Furthermore, some women with excess androgens may have excess levels of circulating insulin (insulin resistance), which has a massive effect on metabolic function, and can manifest in a wide range of symptoms including weight gain and lethargy. High androgens are also a common marker for an endocrine disorder called 'Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome' (PCOS) (as I've discussed before, this is a misunderstanding panacea). While it may come with a list of sub-characteristics and manifestations, little is known about 'PCOS' in “fit” women. Currently there is a limited study exploring how AAS may interact with 'PCOS', metabolic function, or influence the body’s ability to create and use androgens naturally.

Why am I spewing this medical mumbo jumbo? All of this is hugely important to remember when discussing women and steroids for a number of reasons including the fact for whatever reason people seem to think the female body lacks any amount of androgens to begin with. Furthermore, there appears to be a lack of regard for the variance in natural levels of androgens, and the different ways in which women can metabolize these steroids. I told you, it's complicated. But guess what? All of this gets even more complex when you add in our abysmal knowledge of athlete steroid use in general.

 

Bro Knowledge

For over 50 years AAS have been a cluster of controversy and panic, which unfortunately has limited academically sound and clinically applicable information on these drugs. The studies that do get discussed within the industry often pertain to the use of AAS within medical populations, or are concerned with self-administration by males – neither can be translated for female use! So where do you go then to learn about women and steroids? Internet forums of course! And if that doesn’t work, hire a prep coach. If those thoughts crossed your mind, even for a second, please give yourself a very hard smack, as that assumption couldn’t be more wrong and dangerous.

Let's break a few things down –

Your prep coach is not a researcher and Internet forums are not medical textbooks. Many times the information isn’t even on the specific compound you are looking to better understand because (surprise) anabolic steroids are sold on the BLACK MARKET. They are unregulated and not controlled for purity or strength. Thus, there is a high chance they have been cross-contaminated. Please note that a little sticker saying “pharmaceutical grade” means absolutely nothing. For men this is important, but for women it is absolutely crucial. Although health risks exist with any AAS, there are certain properties associated with specific compounds that may pose less of a risk for some women (please note the absolute lack of any generalizing statement within this comment).

The effects of female hormone manipulation are murky. Even if you determine a particular steroid is acceptable for personal use, you’ll be lucky to get your hands on a bottle actually containing the desired drug. And this matters! You should know what you are taking as all AAS are not the same!

Different AAS elicit different anabolic and androgen responses- anabolic induced changes to rates of muscle growth AND androgenic responses such as acne, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), and reproductive dysfunction. These vary from drug to drug, and are often described in the form of a ratio. For example, synthetic testosterone has an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 1:1. This is the one and only time you’ll read a specific compound name in this article. Why? There’s a sickening sense of “protection” associated with specific drugs due to this ratio. An assumed safety net has been cast over certain drugs deemed “ok” for female consumption simply because they have lower androgenic activity. This notion is not only irresponsible and foolish, but it’s created a lack of critical thinking and laziness around female anabolic use. It amazes me that someone will prep for months BUT won’t put in the time and effort to truly understand the drugs they are putting into their body, and the influence on their health. While there’s little assistance from medical sciences on anabolic steroids, education is not impossible.

 

I'm not getting off my soap-box yet. Please know, I’m all for personal choice. I completely respect an individual’s decision to build their body as they please, but regarding AAS, there is a responsibility to fully understand risks, rewards, and long-term consequences of usage. Who you are today may not reflect who you want to be tomorrow. While you may want to be the next Ms. Olympia, life changes - your health changes. If you really want to learn more about steroids for the female users start with the basics. Understand basic human physiology. Work with a health care practitioner to track your sex hormones and menstruation patterns, and know the interaction of these on the endocrine system. There is some work out there on women and steroid use - however, there is a lot of room for improvement... variables not controlled for or even mentioned, problematic methodologies, and just all around bad science. 

 

Ignorance & bad science

So no, women and steroids is not a topic that you can simply search on the Internet or ask a random bro about. As I mentioned above, unfortunately it's also one that recently some of the industry's "most educated" have completely dropped the ball on - spewing off preconceived notions and unsubstantiated information without any critical reflection of the impact that their words have on the health of others.

To be honest, I get sick to my stomach when I think about the far reaching consequences of the conversations happening on social media about women and steroid use. I'm not just talking about female AAS use either, but steroids and other pharmaceuticals used in hormone manipulation in all forms: androgens, peptides, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), anti-estrogens, oral contraceptives, hormonal IUDs, hormone replacement therapies -  oral, injectable, implants, patches, creams, sprays, and powders.

 

Do I know everything there is to know about female hormone manipulation? Hell no. By no means do I see myself as an authority on this topic. Even with my doctoral research being on women and steroids - the use of AAS and oral contraceptives by female athletes, and all the time I have spent specializing in this area and working directly with female athletes, doctors and other professionals, I am no expert. 

Guess what? When it comes to women and steroids, I'm not afraid to admit that there is a lot that I don't know. Now that I've probably lost the confidence of a few by admitting this, I'll tell you something that I do know about this topic: I don't know because we don't know. We don't know because there is a complete lack of study, critical conversation and personal dialogue - not only as it relates to female hormone manipulation, but women's health issues as a whole. Especially, information from a female perspective, which when it comes to these topics isn't important - it's essential.

 

As a result, it's vital to get good, reputable and contextual information out there. It's crucial to host conversations about women and steroids openly and without bias. But, there is a warning that should come with doing this - 

Words have power.

When you have power, words become the divine

 

Be careful what you put out to the world because the publication of inaccurate or misleading data is no different than the ignorance you seek to destroy. Ignorance is not bliss - it is dangerous. Ignorance disguised as scientific knowledge has infinite power. It is an incurable disease that spreads like wildfire, and puts the health and safety of women in serious danger.

It's time to start respecting that anabolics for her is an enigma. You are not an expert on this topic because no one is an expert. Maybe once you do that, we can actually start helping women.

 

 

Ps. I am working relentlessly to be able to start sharing more of my research on women and steroids with you. After the recent events online, it's clear that right now - more than ever it's needed. 


Copy the link, share and help spread the word.
victoriafelkar.com/library/womenandsteroids

 

 

Ask Me Anything E3: Women & Hair Loss

Ask Me Anything

Internal and External Variables for Female Hair Loss (including androgen use)

From hats to hormones, seasonal changes to genetics, there are a lot of internal and external variables that make this topic a complicated one!

To get to the root of female hair loss, within the video I talk about →

  • Why hair loss is more than just about androgens 
  • The multi-factorial basis of hair loss
  • Internal & external variables that contribute to hair loss including
  • Some factors that aren't often get considered
  • My own experience with PCOS, hair loss, and frustrations with physicians
  • Androgenic alopecia (AA), PCOS & anabolic-androgenic hormones
  • The combination effect: managing individual precursors & variables for AA
  • Various treatment routes for AA
  • Why knowing the ingredients of your hair products matters
  • PEDs and their influence on hair loss

 

If you like what you see, feel free to share. If you have any questions you'd like me to cover please feel free to shoot me a message.

Video Location: Android Bodies
www.androidbodies.ca
FB: Android Bodies Inc.
IG: @androidbodies

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

Ask Me Anything E1: PEDs

Do you believe there's a time and a place for PEDs?

In this clip I go over the complexities of performance enhancing drug use by discussing:
· A brief history of their use in sport
· What exactly is performance enhancement
· Societal ideals of PED use
· The importance of knowing your own stance on PEDs
· Therapeutic value of compounds vs. enhancement

If you like it, please feel free to share!
 

· · · ·

Video Location: Android Bodies
www.androidbodies.ca
FB: Android Bodies Inc.
IG: @androidbodies

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

 

 

Muscle Expert: Hormone Manipulation & Food as Therapy

Muscle Expert Podcast with Ben Pakulski #58

USING food as a therapeutic tool and hormone manipulation in sports

 

Can’t thank Ben Pakulski enough for having me on The Muscle Expert. I'll admit, I was nervous as all when I found out that I was the first female guest - but I think he managed to keep the entire conversation organic and flowing by not telling me we were even recording! Seriously, though - this was such a good podcast, and it was great to catch up, talk shop and educate on some really critical topics. Thanks again Ben!

 

Key Highlights:

  • How to balance fat ratios.
  • The menstrual cycle myth and why women should be wary of missing their menstrual cycle.
  • Glucose disposal agents, sex hormones, sleep deprivation, post-diet binge eating mitigation strategies.  

 

"Just don't eat like an asshole" 

 

EPISODE LINK:

http://www.benpakulski.com/podcasts/victoria/

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle/id725296816

 

STITCHER: 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle-expert-interviews-how-to-build/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle-expert-interviews

 

Learn more about Ben Pakulski & The Muscle Expert podcast:
http://www.benpakulski.com
FB: @IFBBbenpakFANPage
IG: @ifbbbenpak
Youtube: MI40 Muscle Intelligence

 

 

Time Stamps:

4:00 Victoria's dissertation topic, exploring the world of female hormonal manipulation in elite sport.

10:47 Hyperandrogenism in females. 

11: 40 Metformin for women post competition.

13:40 Strategies for women recovering from androgen use. 

16:12 Progestron, chronic inflammation and more.

17:35 Reducing dietary triggers, changing your breakfast and eliminating the major allergenic foods.

20:06 Testing for gut health, food mapping protocols, and biofeedback.

21:50 Using food as a therapeutic tool. 

23:38 Balancing fat ratios. 

25:29 The modern American diet,

25:1 omega 6:3 ratio? 

28:50 Women, the first line of defense to overcome the psychology the binge and purge mindset. 

33:43 Glucose disposal agents, hormones, sleep deprivation. 

38:05 Less is more when it comes to training and more is more when it comes to food.

39:00 The menstrual cycle myth.

42:10 Victoria's book, nonhormonal ways to fix hormonal imbalances. 

45:50 The critical biopsychosocial physical ecological model of dynamic relations. 

52:00 Finding gratitude and acceptance.

56:42 Managing variables. 

1:00:20 Morning routines and avoiding emails.  

 

 

 

SWIS 2016 Clip: PCOS

From my talk at the 2016 SWIS Symposium on Female Competitor Health. In this clip from the SWIS 2016 Video library,  I discuss PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and the steroid list women may take for competition ... aka pixiedust. 

 

Learn more about SWIS:
http://swis.ca/
Access to SWIS videos
FB: Swis Video
 

SARMs for Women

In this Q&A I tackle a question about SARMs for women, but in doing so open up a bigger conversation about the "new" kids on the anabolic block and the importance of information literacy.

The 'Secondary' Side Effects of Steroids.

The Secondary Side Effects of Steroids: Sex, Gender and the ‘Unnatural’ Female Sporting Body

IN PROCESS

For over half a century controversy has swirled around the use of anabolic androgen steroids (AAS) by athletes and bodybuilders. They have received significant media and political attention though both the academic and clinical literature are sparse. Robert Goldman’s Death in the Locker Room (1984) helped to create and perpetuate hysteria and panic surrounding steroids, especially their use by women. Focusing on what he calls, “The New Unisex – Female Athletes Turning Male,” Goldman describes anabolic steroids as exclusively “masculine hormones,” and suggests that women who take them are ‘unnatural’, resulting in a ‘bastardization of the female form.’ Goldman is not alone in his concern for the female use of anabolic steroids. The little research that surrounds women and steroids tends to endorse powerful cultural norms about a ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ female sporting body. Often, discussions of female athlete steroid use echo long standing beliefs about the appropriate appearance, health and abilities of the female sporting body.

This project will examine why there has been so little attention to female steroid use and discuss the underlying assumptions on which biological determinism, sex, gender, and the ‘natural’ body have been built into the steroid discourse. As Nelly Oudshroon pointed out, ideas regarding the function of hormones, and the terminology surrounding these chemical messengers have embodied rigid cultural ideas about sex, gender, and the body. Although hormones, including synthetic hormones, do not possess an inherent sex or gender, the debate over anabolic-androgen steroids use in sports continues to distinguish anatomical and physiological differences in the ‘male’ and ‘female’ sporting body.

Despite recent scholarship on gender verification, sex testing and the female athletic body that challenge dominant ideas about ‘normal’ levels of ‘natural’ endogenous androgen levels in female athletes, little research has addressed exogenous androgens, women and AAS use in sport, or the gendering of synthetic sex hormones. Furthermore, although there is a growing body of critical literature on anabolic steroids, the gendering of synthetic sex hormones has not gained the same level of critical inquiry as other aspects of the topic, such as the reframing the philosophical debates of ‘fairness’, debating doping-control measures, or the unsubstantiated physiological and/or psychological ‘risks’ associated with male athlete use.

Drawing upon historical and contemporary medical and popular literature, this project will explore the interplay around the construction of biological sex, gender and hormones, with misrepresentations and myths about the use of steroids by female athletes. It aims to address the current ‘science’ of steroids as it relates to the sporting female body, and show how presumptions about what a ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ female should look like underscores much of the discourse around women’s use of AAS.

 

Want to learn more? Contact me for details. 

How Muscle Became Bad.

Maybe being muscular isn’t all it’s built up to be.

 

You’ve been mugged.

Late one night under the cover of darkness you found yourself blindly cowering at hands of an attacker. You didn’t see the guy who attacked you but the police still call you in to view a line-up of possible suspects. From right to left your eyes scan over 4 men. Too old … too skinny … too short ... eureka! Standing in front of you is a complete monster with arms so big that they could burst through his shirt at any second. Even without ever laying eyes on your mugger, you don’t have a single doubt in your mind that this jacked-up animal is him. That’s the criminal who attacked you.

Although the above is simply a fictional story it represents a powerful and inescapable stereotype that for decades has haunted those with muscles.

Got muscle? Welcome to a lifetime of typecasting as a violent, mentally-ill, unintelligent, steroid using criminal – and if you’re a female then you can add the fact that somehow you’ve suddenly grown balls and have dreams of becoming a man.

But how can this be? We’ve all got muscle to some extend or another. So, why is a muscular body ridiculed, criminalized and condemned? Since when did muscle become bad?

To answer this we must to turn back the clock to the late-1800s. Here in the shadows of a time known for many great discoveries, is the start of a long and disturbing history that continues to promote what a criminal body looks like.   

Emerging as a product of Darwinism, the field of criminology started as a way to help society identify and get rid of anyone that they perceived to be ‘bad’. For example, in Italy a physician and psychiatrist named Cesare Lombroso began to make claims that all criminals had similar physical features. How could a crooked nose and anchor tattoo on the arm of a sailor automatically condemn a man as criminal?

Such ideas quickly found their way across the Atlantic and with America’s growing prison system more theories of what it meant to look like a criminal erupted. Here’s when muscle first got added into the mix.  

By the turn of the 19th century the notion of muscular Christianity gained popularity throughout the United States - which linked muscle building to improving morality. This movement inspired prison officials at New York’s Elmira Reformatory to use physical activity and sport as a way to fight the physical decay that had become associated with criminality. That’s right, being muscular was thought to make a man less criminal.

The support for men to build muscular bodies continued into the turn of the 20th century. A growing sport movement was taking Western nations by storm and event such as the first modern Olympics of 1896 helped to show the world what being physical fit could do for a man’s body and mind. Clear boundaries of how much muscle was socially tolerable was set by the same field that has brought to us the science of body composition testing – the field of anthropometry.

For the average man some muscle and strength was desired … but if you went too far … got too big and too strong then you were literally forced to run off and join the circus. As traveling performers, strongmen and women helped to build popular opinion of the muscular body – often one of curiosity and mystery. Muscle had now been made into another sideshow act of the Freak show.                                   

The arrival of Prussian strongman and founder of bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow to the United States further developed public interest in a heavily muscled physique. Sandow’s vaudeville acts were closely followed by the launch of Bernarr MacFadden Physical Culture magazine in 1899. Headed by the motto “Weakness is a crimedon't be a criminal!” the magazine revealed to the average man all the fitness and diet strategies needed to develop a mainstream muscular physique.

And so another element is added into the muscular myth. Too much muscle will turn you into a one-man circus freak show … but too little muscle makes you a criminal.

Even after the horrific Nazi eugenics movement defined the muscular male body as god-like there was little judgement against muscle within popular culture – that was until in the 1950’s the father of somatotyping, William Sheldon, suddenly defined muscle as bad.

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, his work was a melting pot of pseudo-science, power struggles and dirty money. To say it nicely, Sheldon was a bit of a crock – and unfortunately a very resilient one.

Here’s what Sheldon preached. All male bodies can fit into 3 basic body types – endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph - an idea that many of us in the fitness industry know well.

BUT here’s something most don’t know about somatotyping theory. Sheldon specifically promoted that men with muscular mesomorphic bodies are more prone to criminal activity, violence and aggressive acts.  

Exploring the merits of body typing theory is beyond the scope of this article. It’s one that we can have another day, but regardless of if you agree with the disillusion of somatotyping or not there is one very important take away message here.

Sheldon’s work and those who followed in his theoretical footprints have created an incredibly stigmatizing message about the muscular body:

Muscularity = Deviance.

Muscularity = Aggression.

Deviance + Aggression = Criminality.

It would be easy for me to end the story there but unfortunately there is a lot more to this dangerous equation. And so we continue in the 1970s. Thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger something really interesting happen that would for better or worse rebuilt muscles reputation.

In bodybuilding circles Arnold and Pumping Iron have been regarded for bringing bodybuilding into the mainstream but they did much more than just that – they helped to change what it meant to look like a man… muscles! Suddenly muscle became the standard for American manhood. That’s right muscularity = masculinity.

Size now mattered when it came to muscle, and it was nowhere more apparent than in the media. By the early 1980s the hard-bodied action star dominated the silver screen and made a place for heavily-muscled bodies within popular culture. Pair this with an enormous in spike in films suddenly showing jacked-up inmates pumping iron in the pen and we can start to see a highly visible - yet completely false - representation of exactly what Sheldon’s research stated… the big bad bodies of muscular criminals.  

Back behind the gates of academia, researchers continued to pump-out studies focusing on how muscularity was responsible for criminal behaviour. As if being muscular wasn’t bad enough, during the early 90s researchers had started to explore the relationship of testosterone to criminal behaviour. One study went as far to state a “well-established relationship” between testosterone’s effects on the brain and body build – but get this. The researchers state that testosterone only enhances upper body muscle. Unfortunately, this particular study became the media’s go-to source to try to explain everyday acts of criminal behaviour.

Fast forward to today. Where does having a muscular physique get you in 2015? For both men and women this remains a conversation full of complex contradictions.

While there continues to be an open disrespect for bodybuilding and the culture of muscle it represents, there is also a sense of admiration and respect for those who have average or “good” levels of muscularity.

Rigid social norms require men to have some muscle in order to be considered masculine, and it is necessary for female and male athletes to have heightened levels of musculature in order to achieve sporting excellence.

Furthermore, when female muscle serves a functional purpose such as when a Xfit athlete flings her body over a chin up bar in a convulsing motion society seems to be a-ok with her shredded six-pack but when this same body is posed on stage in front double bicep wearing a sparkly bikini her body suddenly becomes grotesque and “manly.”

Don’t forget about the absolutely absurd pathologization of muscle as a mental illness, such as Dr. Harrison Pope’s psychological diagnosis of “muscle dysmorphia” or bigeroxia. Pope and his colleagues have such strong ideas on what is are ‘appropriate’ levels of muscle and the wrongful desire to work out that they have created a mathematical formula (the Fat Free Mass Index) to determine the level of musculature a person can achieve without anabolic steroid use. How’s that for science!

And if it wasn’t complex enough, the condemnation of muscle has morphed into an all-out war against performance enhancing agents and the ridiculous automatic vilification of anabolic steroids and those who use them. Regardless of their rich and vast cultural history, the discussion of anabolic steroids revolves around a combination of legal, ethical and medical arguments that steroid use is unfair, unethical, medically dangerous but above all criminal.

Furthermore, most popular discourse around anabolic steroid use pertains to only one user, and one user alone – the muscular male. This is nowhere more clearly exemplified than in Sweden’s recent law changes which now allow police officers to search, arrest, and conduct mandatory drug testing based “anabolic steroids physical characteristics” such as “puffy and bloated body” and “swaying walk.”

How do the police get away with blatant acts of stereotyping in the 21st century? It’s a little something the legal system calls “probable cause” based on a person’s physical appearance. Like skin color or ethnic background, muscularity should not provide the grounds for violating someone’s basic human rights and personal privacy.

Let’s get something straight here.

Muscle itself is neutral in biology.

It is neither male or female – nor is it wicked, immoral or evil. Having varying degrees of muscularity does not produce more or less intelligence, aggression, mental illness or criminal behaviour.

In its most pure form, muscle is simply a grouping of muscle fiber cells surrounded by some connective tissue - yet, overtime society has and continues to constructed particular meanings and definitions of what it means to be muscular ... we have made muscle bad.

Simply put, being muscular isn’t all that it is built-up to be.

 

 

Originally Published: Feature, Muscle Insider Magazine, 24: Aug/Sept 2015

 

 

Clearing Up Clenbuterol

A Dopers Delight or Misused Stimulant?

Following the Olympics in 1992, a new breed of stimulant gained global recognition. Hailed as the “dopers delight”, this anti-asthma medication was special. Not only could it be used as a stimulant but many believed it could also enhance muscle growth. Only 4 years earlier, steroid guru Dan Duchaine introduced the bodybuilding world to this same drug - which to this day remains one of our sports most misunderstood and misused compounds: Clenbuterol Hydrochloride.

Targeting specific receptor sites in the body’s sympathetic nervous system (SNS), Clen is a selective beta-2 sympathomimetic… wait, a what?

A car backfires and subconsciously you jump off your couch - this is an automatic physiological response initiated by our SNS in response to a perceived threat. Known as fight-or-flight, this response is the result of the release of a hormone called norepinephrine (NE). To work, NE has to bind and activate a specific receptor in your body called a beta-2 receptor. Think of this like a lock and key. Only one key (NE) can both fit (bind) and unlock (activate) one lock (beta-2 receptor).

This is where Clen comes in. Clen acts as a “fake” key that can unlock only some beta-2 receptors (why it’s called “selective”).  

Although its labeled use is an anti-asthma medication, Clen is able to unlock fat and muscle tissue cells throughout the body. Like other beta-2 agonists, clen is a “thermogenic” = Clen-sweats. This is caused by an increase in body temperature and metabolic rate, as well as its ability to directly target fat cell breakdown of triglycerides to free fatty acids is what makes Clen such as popular “fat loss” drug.

Its anabolic capabilities however are still up for debate. Although since the early 90s bros have been using clen as a part of post-cycle therapy or as an alternative to steroids to get “lean-gains”, there remains no human research (animal studies only) that provide evidence to support an increase in lean muscle mass as a result of clen. Regardless, Clen has become a stable drug for many athletes both inside and out of bodybuilding. While Clen-shreds may sound enticing, they certainly don’t come without controversy and concern. It doesn’t matter how Clen gets into your body – inhaled, pill or liquid form, or injected, remember this: Clen is dangerous.

Keep in mind that clen is different than other beta-2 agonists or stimulants based off: specificity, potency, and duration of effect. This makes for steady, strong blood levels of Clen, which often are easy to achieve with just a single or twice-daily dose (thanks to its 35-hour half-life). After a few weeks (usually 4-6 weeks) the body’s beta-2 receptors slowly stop responding due to a process called “down regulation” … simply put, they stop responding and require rest (aka. stop the drug).

However, like other performance enhancers, Clen is great at turning users into complete idiots by tempting them with magical everlasting results. What follows is the “more is better, longer is better” complex.       

From developing a psychological dependency based off ill-informed perceptions that Clen can be used long term, to the fact that users gauge the effectiveness of the drug based off the presence initial side effects such as shaky hands, insomnia, sweating and nausea – it appears that we have a growing Clenhead epidemic on our hands.  

Yes, initial side effects should dissipate after a few days and this does NOT mean that the drug has stopped working, so please stop boosting the dose to supersonic levels and somehow believe that stacking it with other stimulants will results in “better results” and not a cardiac arrest. Wake up and education yourself on drug dependency and the long term effects of Clen that happen even after beta-2 receptors stop “responding.”

Not only that, due to its strength, long half-life, and perceived effectiveness, there is such thing as Clen toxicity – which is why in Canada it’s not available for human use even with a prescription, and within veterinary practice has dramatically declined over the past few years.

Clen has never been made available for human or animal use in the US, and within sport clen it is completely banned regardless of the fact that some countries around the world (Bulgaria, Russia and China) continuing to prescribe it as a therapeutic drug. (… cough cough, the IOC wonders why there has been an increase of athletes with “asthma”).

Since the mid-90’s, it’s even illegal to use Clen to bulk-up livestock. Not only were the animals questionable, but those who ate Clen’d meat suffered symptoms of Clen overdose, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Just an FYI to athletes who travel - be mindful that not all countries have banned its use in livestock. Anti-doping agencies have reported a number of cases where athletes tested positive for Clen after eating contaminated meat … or at least that’s what the athlete told officials after being caught Clen-handed.

Regardless of the fact that Clen is pretty much illegal for ALL consumption, it continues to be widely available on the black market and used for performance enhancement. From the consumption of cocaine in 18th century, amphetamine use during cold-war and now to today’s Clenheads – even though athletes have been using stimulants for centuries it doesn’t make it safe or smart. 

 

Originally Published: Insider Controversy, Muscle Insider Magazine, 29: June/July 2016

 

Resources on Women & Steroids

QA in 8:

Resources that Discuss Women & Steroids

In the first Q&A in 8, I try to start a much bigger conversation on women and anabolic steroids, specifically highlighting a question about potential resources.

 

Muscle Minds: Sex, Gender & Anabolics

Advices Radio: Muscle Minds with Dr. Scott Stevenson and Scott McNally #19

 

I'm back with my good friend Dr Scott Stevenson, and his partner in podcast crime Scott McNally, on Muscle Minds to answer listeners questions and discusses gender issues and how they have impacted female anabolic steroid use

 

EPISODE link:

https://www.advicesradio.com/track/episode-19-3

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/advices-radio/id1104299645?mt=2

 

Stitcher: 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/scott-mcnally/advices-radio/e/51707031

 

 

Learn more about Advices Radio:
www.advicesradio.com
FB: @advices.radio
YOUTUBE: Advices Radio

 

 

The Good, the Bad and the Juiced: A Critical Conversation about Muscle

SWIS OZZIE TALK2016

From booming numbers of new dietary supplements to the rising celebrity status of social media’s fit-bodies, the popularity of today’s fitness industry is unquestionable. While current fitness trends provide for a greater social tolerance of muscle, there remains continued cultural condemnation of bodies that are arbitrarily deemed as ‘overly’ muscular. The boundary between what is defined as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ muscle is further complicated by problematic perceptions of anabolic steroids. In fact, the automatic vilification of the drugs has shaped popular representations and misconceptions of the hyper-muscular body with devastating results. Regardless of the lack of academically sound and clinically applicable information on anabolic steroids, suspected users are often viewed as social sinners, demonized, and in some countries arrested and prosecuted based solely on a muscular physique.

Guided by a critical socio-cultural historical perspective, this project explores how, overtime, the muscular body has become ridiculed, condemned and criminalized. Through the use of several examples, including the rise of criminal anthropology in the late-1800s and the evolution of the ‘evils’ of anabolic steroids use, within this project I challenged popular perceptions of muscle and identify the impact of these powerful and inescapable stereotypes for contemporary fitness culture. 

Want more? Watch the full video here.