Gay Men & Steroids: A Love Story?

The other day, I was showing a picture of a sexy, muscular guy on Grindr to a friend. My friend pointed out that the guy had gynecomastia (the development of abnormally large mammary glands in males), and was likely a user of steroids. I was surprised and shocked, but my friend told me that steroid use – especially among gay men – is fairly common. Even his roommate does steroids, he shared.

I was ignorantly unaware of what is seemingly an epidemic among gay men. In fact, a recent study revealed that 1 in 7 gay gym-going men admitted to steroid use. Some estimate that the actual number may be closer to 50%.

There is no no doubt that many people associate being gay with a certain gym and muscle culture. And while that gym culture doesn’t define a community as diverse as the gay community, it certainly is present and pervasive. Gay muscle culture is often traced back to another epidemic: AIDS. Physicians often prescribed steroids to people living with AIDS as a way to increase muscle mass on their otherwise frail frames. Moreover, pumped-up bodies became a symbol of healthiness.

Today, muscle culture is alive and well – and many gay men feel intense pressure to obtain lean, muscular builds. Under such pressure, taking steroids can seem like an easier shortcut than hard work and exercise. And there’s no doubt that steroids yield results. Unfortunately, steroids are plagued by tremendously dangerous and/or undesirable side-effects including:

  • Acne
  • Shrunken testicles – which leads to temporary (and possibly permanent) sterility
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Liver malfunction
  • Enlarged prostate and prostate cancer
  • Balding
  • Aggression
  • Liver failure
  • Stunted growth
  • Weight problems
  • Neurological issues

Of course, not all steroid users will experience all of the above side effects – but the list is long and daunting. If gay men and steroids are a love story, it’s certainly one that won’t end happily ever after.

If you (or someone you know) uses steroids, it’s important to talk to a professional. Most drug addiction treatment centers are equipped to deal with all kinds of drug addictions ranging from prescription drug abuse to steroid abuse.

But I want to know what you think. Are you – or someone you know – a steroid user? Why, despite the enormous risks, do people find steroids to be a viable option? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. AXOLOTL15 says:

    I tried steroids (specifically Trenbolone) recently but had to stop after the first dose because I had an allergic reaction (lol I’m so gay I’m allergic to androgens… XD). Plus, it was giving me pretty heavy bouts of depression, something I’ve been trying to avoid for years. I would love to have the body of my dreams, something that after four years of exercise I haven’t been able to achieve, but my mental health comes first. Some days after the first shot I felt as pathetic as I did when I was in the closet… Yeah… No thanks.

    Of course, everyone’s experience with steroids is different, that’s what makes them so unpredictable. Personally, I neither condone nor promote steroid use.

  2. Until recently, I too was blissfully unaware of how rampant steroid use among gay men was until a friend pointed it out. It suddenly made me feel a lot better about myself to know that some of those guys with the ridiculously hot bodies, the type of body I keep aiming for but can’t quite reach, are really just cheating. Sure I could take the easy route and give steroids a try, but on so many different levels it just doesn’t seem worth it. And besides, I’ve realized I seem to be doing just fine without them.

    • AXOLOTL15 says:

      I find it a bit ignorant that you say taking steroids is the “easy route”. With the limited direct exposure I’ve had to them and the effects I’ve seen on other people I can safely say that using steroids is not easy at all, which is why I opted to abandon them immediately after the first dose. Just take a look at the long list of side-effects: does that sound easy to you? Plus, I heard that the worst comes after the cycle is over, where side-effects are so bad some athletes have even attempted suicide.

      It all comes down to this: balancing and managing the side-effects (or at least those that are manageable) with the benefits. Is it worth the risk? Just don’t say it’s easy.

      • AXOLOTL15-

        Would you say that taking steroids to gain mass is harder than going the natural route? If that were the case, why do so many people do it?

        I’m certainly not trying to suggest that there are no side effects to steroids, or that it’s a walk in the park for everyone, but for a lot of people I think it certainly is easier (and faster) to go that route than to spend the many years it can take to bulk up naturally.


        • Stereotyping it drives me nuts.We get a lot of julnraoists who just aren’t interested in anything other than confirming their preconceived ideas with some evidence’ even when the evidence doesn’t exist or contradicts what they want to say. Five years after the fact, there are still articles claiming that the number of egg and sperm donors dropped through the floor when the law on anonymity was changed. It didn’t the numbers actually went up. If they’d bothered to check the publicly available stats on the HFEA website they’d know this is a non-story but no, bad news is so much more entertaining.Then, and I hate to say it, there are the articles in women’s mags who want a very specific story about a grieving infertile couple given hope by a donor and how they had suffered for so long but look there was a happy ending. I know this is what they DO and it’s also the kind of story that helps recruit donors, but y’know, it’s not the whole picture.

    • Joey D. says:

      Good for you. I hope you keep doing well. I was wondering though if you might be available. Hope I’m not coing on too strong. I look young, but I’m actually 20 years old. I’m on facebook, so if you want you can search for me by my email and friend me. I have my foot up in the air and on it says “Step out Walk to stop Diabetes!” I used that photo for a college project. Write a message with your request telling me how I know you, especially since I don’t know what you look like. Hope to hear from you soon. By the way, my email is

  3. Check out the documentary “Bigger, Stronger, Faster”

  4. Hey i’m a 26 year old South african…

    In our country we have a very active muscle culture among the gay and even straight guys. I too pay a fair bit of attention to my body and have wondered about using steroids to bulk up fast but since seeing roid rage and some of the other odd effects it has on the body in acton in an ex of mine i’ve never been tempted again.

    The mood swings, angry outbursts and emotional ups and downs can be really scary to watch from the outside.


  5. I regularly get asked if I use steroids, to the extreme that I have even been approached by random strangers asking me if I knew where they could get some, but I can genuinely honestly say I never have.

    I can understand gay guy’s need to use them and I have also starting seeing a guy who has recently started taking steroids to gain body mass; whilst I am hesitant about the fact I am trying to remain open minded on the subject.

    In reference to your friend, I hope he is a rarity as far as labelling guys as steroid users when he has no facts to base his accusation on, as that is not fair either.

  6. I have noticed that today’s teens look allot more muscular than they did when I was in high school (15 years ago) There was only one boy in my class who was very muscular, and he was naturally so, having been since he was 12.

    Today’s boys are under tremendous pressure to perform in sports at school and to look good otherwise they don’t get noticed by the girls (or boys :). I was at an the airport about a year ago and I noticed about 20 high school boys going on summer break. Every single one of them was very muscular, and every single on of them had terrible acne. One can only wonder what their long term health will be like, and if they know what damage they were doing to their bodies.

  7. I’m a little embarrassed to say that this is the first I’m learning about the presence of steroid use in the gay community. I’ve dealt with body dysmorphia in the past and I’m constantly struggling to get healthy and in shape, so it not only makes me feel better about myself to know that I would never go the easy route, but it also saddens me. The men who are on steroids are promoting an extremely unhealthy way of getting a hot body. People aren’t always aware that the pressure to look good has just as much of an impact on men as it does on women, and the guys using steroids are only adding to that.

  8. I think 50% is a low ball park of how many Gay men use steroids… Particularly those with HIV. They are loosely and generally prescribed for wasting syndrome as well as chronic fatigue syndrome. Two side effects that are also common in Crystal Meth addiction. Meth addiction often comes in side by side with steroid addiction. You can add too the list HGH that is also used loosely and heavily. These are addictive drugs! Their use leads to aggressive behaviour. Not only do they stimulate muscle development but they aggravate the user into lifting heavy weight and doing more reps than normal. Often resulting in injuries Lbled as sport related. Where if the truth be told they are poorly drug related.
    The use of these Gym drugs can also lead to a number of other horrible addictive behaviours. I could write 3 pages on this alone. I am so pleased someone has called this huge problem in our community to a public forum and venue. According to my research over 44% of deaths labelled HIV are in actuality drug related deaths and of that 44% 28% are steroid HGH related. Those number make this topic worthwhile discussing.

  9. Davey,
    Thanks for posting this. It’s an important reminder of the dangers of steroid abuse, and the timing was impeccable, as I literally just finished my twice weekly injection of testosterone. I’m a user of steroids, but it’s medically necessary and medically supervised. I’m not HIV positive, thankfully. But I was testosterone deficient and so my primary doctor referred me to an endocrinologist. After almost 8 months of testing and careful consideration, I finally decided to start on testosterone. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I feel like a completely different person and it has given me energy and focus to work out at an intensity level previously unheard of for me. There has apparently been a problem with my T levels for years, and now that they’re well within the normal range, and on occasion, a little high…I am a new man. I have the body of a guy half my age and I enjoy a sense of well-being that I previously did not have.

    Just as there are different kinds of vitamins and supplements, there are a variety of different types of anabolic steroids. The steroid that I inject is naturally occurring. On balance, though, I’m not one of those who sees steroid use as a problem. In fact, I believe that in time, steroid supplementation will be found to be medically beneficial for far more people than use it today. There are those who will abuse it, no doubt. But testosterone is naturally occurring and all I am doing is providing my body the level that some men already have.

    Now, if you consider all of the abuse of deca, anavar, and the other crazy stacks of gear that are available out there, there is certainly room for abuse among the population, gay and straight combined. But honestly, I really don’t see this as a problem for our community. I’m actually more concerned with the tweakers, the smokers, and those who can’t seem to understand that alcohol is a drug (and one which is abused far more pervasively), than steroids.

    Steroid supplementation–when used wisely, can make an enormous difference in one’s life, both in terms of feeling good and looking good. If you’re in doubt about your T-levels, regardless of your age, get your doctor to check it out for you. Anabolic steroids changed my life for the better.

    • Hi Mark

      You are using testosterone to treat a diagnosed dysfunction for which there are limited other options. Along the path of you treatment you have discovered other positive results. Do not be confused regarding the fact that testosterone is a natural occurring hormone in the human body. How ever the testosterone you are injecting is a synthetic produced in a laboratory.
      Here is the catch… when you inject what you are using the brain get this rush of endorphins, what you refer to as a feeling of well being. The brain says to the pituitary glands; “hey tell the testicle to stop producing that stuff we have to much of it. The pituitaries then say to the testicles.. hey guys knock it off we drowning in it and the testicles close down. The same process controls normal testosterone manufacturing in the human body.

      Now this is fine for you because you have testosterone dysfunction to begin with. The red light is for those who have healthy functioning testicles. Because the brain does no know the difference and will tell the pituitaries to tell the testicle to shut down. Over a period of time what were once healthy functioning testicles will loose there capacity to produce testosterone naturally. They will begin to shrink. Causing a barrage of other problems of prostate cancer right down the line.
      As for that feeling of well being. This to has a shelve life and is often followed by depression and anxiety.
      I think it is important for those guys reading this that do not have a testosterone deficiency problem to understand all of this. Unless they want to wind up with a self made testosterone deficiency.
      Unfortunately in the end a with all mind altering drugs [after all” just what is a feeling of well being”” all have a limited shelve life.

  10. First of all I hate needles, so that method of taking them would be out of the question, and secondly I hate taking pills, that is also out of the question. I am an average build and happy with what I currently have. I wouldn’t even think of taking steroids.

  11. I’ve honestly considered using Steroids. I witnessed a friend transformed as he used the product and found amazing results. I’m a big guy, and i’ve always been a big guy. I don’t have a lot of time to spend tons of time in the gym and honestly my diet isn’t amazing. (I’m a graduate student, work a part time internship and another part time graduate assistant job, not much free time here!) However, I didn’t know the effects, and this has swayed my decision quite a bit. I often times feel depressed about my current situation (mainly my “look”) and with the gentleman’s earlier comment about increased signs of depression in himself when he took steroids, i’ll be reconsidering, because thats the last thing that I need in my life right now.

  12. Depression is probably the scariest side effect of roids.

    • AXOLOTL15 says:

      I agree. With just one dose I felt just like I did when I was back in the closet. 🙁

  13. I was also very unaware of the presence of steroids in the gay community, but now that I hear it, it makes sense. When I read this post alarm bells started going off in my head. A good friend of mine, whom I went to college with, used to be really skinny. All through college he would complain about his body. Since then, he has become more active in the community and has also bulked up significantly. The change has been pretty dramatic, and his musculature is now very conspicuous. I am afraid he may be using steroids. What are some other red flags I should look for and if he is, how do I approach him about this?

    • AXOLOTL15 says:

      Let him be! It’s his body, his life, and most of all, his decision. The immense majority of people who use steroids is aware of the risks and consequences (if he uses them at all, as you said, you don’t have evidence of this, just a hunch).

  14. I used to work in the fitness industry and was shocked to learn how many people actually use anabolics for purely aesthetic reasons. With the exception of the few truly genetically gifted, if someone looks abnormally big and lean – they are probably getting some help. I feel like when discussing the ideal male (and female) physique, it is important to acknowledge that most of the images we get from the media aren’t realistic interpretations of what can be achieved by the average person. Fitness and figure models often employ less-than-healthy techniques to achieve what we all are accepting as the best physic for someone who is “healthy.”

  15. Those dudes base their life on their look. They don’t care about being healthy.
    Turns out that steroids are the easy way to get to a healthy look but now I see it’s just an appearence.

  16. this is why not use steroids.. i know someone that eat it.. his problems is the acne and erectile dysfunction is starting i think.. he looks bad and sad about it..

    i prefer live healthy and work out as well

  17. I’m glad you’re addressing the body dysmorphic disorders that plague gay men and, in the wake of metrosexuality, men in general.

    A couple of weeks ago, some guy who was obese wrote in and my advice to him was to use blood pressure and serum lipids as markers for over-all health. Most of us were not genetically programmed to have six packs. We all need some fat. 15% body fat for a man is actually about average.

    Too much of gay culture is centered around physical appearance, which makes it not the easiest setting in which to grow old.

  18. christopher says:

    i know of two guys that are obsessively bent on physical perfection-no doubt one takes supplements-he works out excessively and has the physique to match-he works out excessively in the gym-3 hrs of basketball-hes tall-6ft 3in-has done photo shoots for a male modelling agency.the other guy is a 20 something-he works out everyday-buys supplements by the carton box full.he has what i call a finished physique-everything about him looks perfect-hes obsessed with his physique and really cant fault these guys-they seek perfection-anyway they get it-and it shows.i would do the same-if i had their foundation.a third guy has a lean small to medium physique-has played baseball-always proud of his lean physique-no love handles-no doubt works out everyday-has the trophy physique-is obsessed with his physique-slim in the waist-very well rounded biceps-mini softballs to describe his look-doesnt matter what the weather is-t-shirts that accentuate and bring attention to his physicallity.ive heard him say and his best buddy wrestler is extremely jealous of his rounded defined biceps-he is one totally jealous guy.jocks do have a competive angle.two of these 3 guys i perceive to be str8-third guy-is questionable.

  19. I have never been turned on by muscular bodies. Just the opposite, I like slender, natural looking bodies. I find most muscular bodies look distorted and unnatural to me. Probably just where I’m at. I’m slim and could never put on muscle. One day it hit me that I really find slim bodies to be HOT!

  20. I’d say 50% is probably an overestimate, although clearly some gyms usage is closer to 100%.
    While it is sad, and what I am about to say is first hand testimony, this is just one otehr facet of the very prevlant gay dismorphia.
    I am no shrink but growing up even as a happy, complexless gay guy in a very gay accepting environment, there is still a stream of what it means to be a sexy gay man. This stream is omnipresent at this site as well, and is not just a reflection of your taste in men, but also of the mainstream (albeit very narrow stream) of what sexy is, and is as exterme and as unhealthy (if not more so) than what you see with young girls.
    Ironically, straight men AND lesbians don’t seem to be subjected to the same stricness of rules – just open a lesbian magazine and see for yourslef.
    Davey – I like your site and I appreciate your advice, but if you think for one minute that by associating FIT with a very very particular look (almost all white, almost all under 30, almost all buff beyond normal human looks and almost all flawless) you have no contribution here – you are sadly and gravely mistaken.

  21. First you can’t call steroids a short cut because it doesn’t simply yield muscle gains faster but allows you to break a physical barrier in place by genetics and achieve a larger amount of muscle not possible without steroids and second all of the above symptoms are temporary (while on cycle) and can be prevented or are false statements by the media with no scientific backing.

  22. Omg I was reading this and the whole time, I was thinking, ‘Hey- this sounds like something Davey Wavey would say..’ THEN realized it was his blog (didn’t see it due to computer being slow to upload the banner as well as a bit of laziness in actually ever looking at those things anyway) lol

  23. I am a first time user of Deca mixed with a test. I did a 14 week cycle and did not feel any anger issues it actually helped with my depression as I felt like a super man on it. I am waiting 6 months before I try it again to give my body a rest. The only concern I have in my health from use would have to be my heart. So many of the heavy users die from heart failure, look at Eric Rhodes recently at only 30.. shame. The liver repairs its self fairly quickly. I also took a DHT blocker to prevent increased hair loss. I am aware of the risks and a somewhat skeptical on a lot of the information out there. Oh ya and I am gay =)

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  25. I am gay, and I also use steroids. I’ve been using testosterone enanthate with other combos like dbol, deca, and equipise. I’ve also used other things like birth control to asthma medicine to control side effects…

    I’m in my third year of using. I’m healthy, and I don’t abuse it. (Some guys are just perpetually on the juice.) My doctor doesn’t agree with my use, but she keeps me monitored all the time. I’ve managed to keep things good. I take these drugs in short cycles, and take preventive measures such as using injectables only… or using orals (in shorter cycles) with milk thistle and other marketed liver protectors.

    It’s hard to be gay and a steroid user. There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a strong Adonis factor in the gay community. Gays like physical appearances. That’s pressure alone is quite a burden. But, there’s also another aspect to why I use steroids.

    When I was younger and questioned my sexuality, I remember thinking that I couldn’t be gay. I was a fat boy, and the gays I’ve seen 6-packs twinks wearing gossamer fairy wings. How could I be gay and not look so stereotypical? In fact, I used to have these skinny white girls trying to get with me, and all I wanted was a big Latin hairy-chest muscle bear for my boyfriend. I never liked the sissies or the queens, I just only liked Muscle Bears and Musclemen or even the MuscleChubs.

    It wasn’t until I came out to my strongly Roman Catholic and Mexican family that I made the plunge. I was 27 years old and survived my suicide attempt. You would think my family would support me after my suicide attempt. But nope. Coming out was in fact worse. They called me horrible things. But the worst was my father calling me, essentially from the Spanish, a weak bitch. When you come from a culture that puts supper emphasis on machismo… well, being gay is just the end of it. There’s no hope to redeem yourself. He has stopped calling me his son, though I love him. My mother can’t look at me and not call me marricon, puto, or punal. (Fag bashing words in Spanish.)

    That was bad. But as the saying goes… once out of the frying pan, then into the fire…

    Because a few weeks after, when I first got into oral steroids (I was too afraid of injecting myself at that point)– I had a group of Mexican cholos surround me in the bathroom. Some horrible gossip told them that I was gay, and they had a problem with a gay man in the weight lifting room and the lockers.

    They started to push me around (though I was bigger than them, but cowards fight in pacts against one.) But when one grabbed my groin from the behind and started to hump me, I went crazy. Not only they were trying to humiliate me, they were trying to sexually abuse me. I smashed that guy hard against the wall and started to fight all these scary cholos. I wasn’t going to be a Mathew Shepard.

    Up till then, I never fought. I don’t even know how to fight with fists. So I fought like a big muscular sissy. I kicked their balls and scratched and bite them. I bite one guy on the inside of his thigh, and it felt great! Because I got him good with the most embarrassing kind of battle scar.

    That fight was so bad that the police did come, and found the cholos with a pocket knife. I remember the cops couldn’t believe that I was gay because I just don’t look gay.

    Since that fight, I just felt i need to protect myself. I felt that in order to be gay and safe, I need to make myself bigger than any bully who may want to pick on me.

    That situation just put everything in concrete. I was going to be a scary muscle MoFu. On the outside at least. People who actually know me will know that I have a mousy voice and disposition. Very mellow, extremely gentle and just… not what you would expect in a steroid user. My husband’s little neice calls me Uncle Pitbull, and her baby brother likes it when I bounce him on pecs. We make pancakes and coffee cake together when we watch the Little Mermaid or Little Nemo. (And I love it too.)

    Physically, I’m imposing. I weigh 280 pounds and most of me is muscle. (I still have a baby belly.) I’ve learned how to sew so that I can modify my clothes to fit my shoulders and thighs.

    But, mentally… I’m still that very gentle boy who avoided fights, ate whatever kind of sweets I could get my hands on, and served in my family’s church as an alter boy.

    I’m still that boy, except it’s incased with all this muscle. And I feel better like that. I prefer to scare the people away.

    Do I need to get off steroids? Yes I do. But how?
    Steroids isn’t the problem in itself. Most of the effects are temporary if you don’t abuse it. The real problem is how to save yourself from yourself.

    I know that answer is to go cold turkey.
    But I’m just too afraid of that.

  26. My boyfriend uses HGH and we haven’t had sex in two years. I’ve heard that steroids and HGH actually improve sex drive. He is over 50 so I figured it was due to low libido associated with age. Either he is cheating, uninterested in sex anymore, or he’s gay. Help… I’m ready to diminish the relationship because of it. He also has extreme mood swings so I’m thinking it may be due to the injections. Any advice is welcomed.

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  28. Its the only legit online site to buying steroids…dont listen to these fools…


  1. […] I’ve mentioned before, the relationship between gay men and steroids is a very troubled love story. How bad and how […]