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SARMs Side Effects: Risks You Should Know Before You Consume Them


Several people prefer taking supplements or other[1] appearance and performing drugs to build a solid and muscular body.

These supplements may tremendously increase muscle mass and help individuals develop their bodies.

But, along with positive effects, these supplements might come with various side effects. SARMs or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are one of the supplements people choose to increase muscle mass.

SARMs are considered a great alternative to steroids as they have comparatively lesser side effects than the latter. But, still, SARMs aren’t devoid of adverse effects, as they could cause several severe impacts on the human body.

They are not approved by the FDA for human consumption at the same time, we also will never recommend anyone to use SARMs for anything. On the other hand, to get the benefits similar to SARMs one my consider alternatives to SARMs.

The data about these side effects and the information about SARMs have been ever-evolving[2] and one should keep on discussing this matter[3] in light of public health from time to time.

Hence, this article will list several potential side effects of SARM consumption.

What Are SARMs?

SARMs are a group of therapeutic compounds[4] that may have anabolic properties to increase muscle mass.

The supplement functions efficiently by selectively binding to the androgen receptors in the body. The crucial receptors allow for an increase in muscular growth and faster recovery.

SARMs are somewhat similar to anabolic-androgenic steroids but differ in their selective approach. Different SARMs are known to target other specific tissues for their action.

The SARMs usage could be beneficial in maintaining some desired effects of androgens like osteoporosis and muscle loss prevention, lowered risk of prostate cancer, etc.

The supplement could be a potential treatment for muscle-wasting caused by several underlying diseases like cancer, heart failure, etc.

Not to miss, a few SARMs substances are not even used for medical conditions[5], no matter what the situation is.

Currently, all the SARMs are under investigational usage; hence, no clinical use is recommended.

Moreover, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has blacklisted SARMs usage for athletes in any level of sports.

Also, the FDA has warned[6] against using SARM products in bodybuilding substances. They have also continued their crackdown[7] against the illegal usage of SARMs and SARMs-like substances.

Some examples of SARMs drugs include Ostarine, RAD 140 Testolone, and Ligandrol LGD 4033 . On the other hand, substances like Cardarine GW-501516 and Ibutamoren MK 677 are not SARMs, but people generally categorize them under SARMs.

Side Effects Of SARMs

Many bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts might consider SARMs as beneficial supplements. But they come with multiple side effects to consider.

Clinical data have mentioned numerous side effects of consuming SARMs for men[8] and women.

All the side effects faced by the consumers could be long-term or short-term based on several factors, including the consumption pattern of the individual.

Here is one such case report[9]. If you want more information, you can also look at this governmental paper[10] that talks about Ligandrol induced liver injury.

SARMs Side Effects On Men

  1. May Cause Liver Injury

    SARMs, like other anabolic steroids, may cause liver injury[11] in consumers.

    In some cases, it has been observed that SARMs could cause cholestatic liver injury in humans, with a similar mechanism of action to steroids.

    The liver injury could lead to some medical conditions like jaundice or elevated liver enzymes.

    But, the cases of liver injury due to SARMs consumption are rare and usually occur when the supplement is being consumed regularly.

    Hence, liver injury cases are more often correlated to regular and increased consumption in the athletic market, rather than recreational use.

  2. May Cause Hair Loss

    Every male starts losing hair after reaching a certain age. Hair loss might be due to genetics, pollution, etc. But, SARMs could play a role in the hair fall of males.

    Every SARM has a different role; hence, different SARMs reduce the level of different hormones in your body. Unhealthy and uneven level of sex hormones[12] may lead to hair loss.

    Moreover, the over dosage of SARM for a more extended period could also be a factor for hair loss in males.

    Hence, it would be best to consume SARMs in the prescribed dosage to avoid such side effects.

  3. May Cause Gynecomastia

    Isn’t it surprising that SARMs may lead to gynecomastia in males? But, this could be true due to the conversion of testosterone into estrogen and dihydrotestosterone  (DHT) that happens as a part of the process of SARMs action.

    As you consume SARMs, the supplement occupies a maximum of your androgen receptors, hence, significantly fewer androgen receptors are available for testosterone to bind.

    This situation[12] may lead to the conversion of remaining testosterone to estrogen and DHT.

    Moreover, in the case of higher SARMs doses, more testosterone may remain unbound, leading to higher estrogen levels in males.

    The higher estrogen level may further lead to different medical conditions[13] like gynecomastia or breast development.

  4. May Suppress Natural Testosterone Production

    When you consume SARMs, your body gets filled with androgen, which kills the need for natural androgens in the body.

    Hence, with increased androgens, your body receives the command to reduce natural testosterone production in the body. Do you know why your body stops production?

    When the body is flooded with SARMs, the supplemental androgens bind to the androgen receptor, limiting the need for natural androgens.

    Moreover, with optimum androgens in the body, your body won’t waste additional energy in producing testosterone.

    Hence, in this way, your body could suppress the natural testosterone production and at the same time, your body might start exhibiting the symptoms of low testosterone.

    The safety and effects parameters are discussed here[14].

  5. May Start Acne Issues

    No one likes to have some irregularities like acne on their face. But, it has been found that SARMs could cause acne[15] on your face; how?

    People with higher testosterone levels in the body may get acne frequently. Hence, with SARMs, the androgen level in the body gets elevated, leading to acne.

    The increased androgen levels increase the sebum concentration on the skin, which prevents the skin from drying.

    The oily skin obstructs the removal of dead cells, leading to cell clogging, hence forming acne on the face.

  6. Could Hamper Sexual Health

    The consumption of SARMs or SARMs-like products could also harm sexual health. Their consumption might alter average hormonal production and show side effects similar to steroids.

    This effect has been acknowledged in this text[16]. As a result, one could conclude that consumption of SARMs may also lower your sperm count and hamper your overall sexual health.

    The relation between infertility and anabolic steroid usage has been discussed here[17].

SARMs Side Effects On Women

  1. May Cause Disturbance In Menstrual Cycle

    Females consuming SARMs may experience a disturbed menstrual cycle. Due to excess androgen hormones in the body, women may get hormonal disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

    In these conditions, women experience an early or delayed menstrual cycle causing irregularities in the cycle.


    irregular menstrual cycle[18] might be inconvenient, annoying, and painful for the women.

    Moreover, hormonal disorders like PCOS come with several other underlying health conditions[19] for women.

  2. May Get Body Hairs Like Men

    SARMs consumption increases the level of androgens like testosterone in the body. In females, testosterone is present in lesser quantities compared to men.

    Hence, an increase in the level of androgens due to SARMs consumption may induce the growth of unwanted body hairs[20], specifically in the back, face, and chest areas in females.

  3. May Have Regular Mood Swings

    SARMs could be great for building muscles and increasing the strength of an individual, but they could negatively impact the mood.

    Females experiencing mood swings are scarce with regular and prescribed doses of SARMs. But, women taking SARMs excessively might experience a negative impact of the supplement.

    The excess dosage might cause irregularity in hormone levels; hence, they might experience sudden mood swings.

  4. May Experience Pain And Swelling

    Whoever consumes SARMs might experience pain at some point, irrespective of gender. But, women are more prone to pain and swelling after consuming SARMs.

    The pain and swelling in women are due to immediate water retention and rapid muscle build-up.

    But, the pain and swelling might not persist for long, as they get habituated to the growth with regular consumption.

  5. May Develop Male Characters

    The condition of developing male characters after consuming SARMs in females isn’t proven, but a few women might experience this problem.

    Some women might experience a reduction in breast size and deepened voice due to overconsumption of SARMs.

    Increment in the testosterone levels in females could also be one of the reasons behind the development of male-like characters.


Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators could be a great alternative to anabolic steroids in building muscle.

Unlike steroids, SARMs consumption has shown lesser side effects in humans, making it an effective supplement for muscle gain.

However, these  supplements aren’t completely devoid of side effects as people have some unwanted experiences with SARMs.

But, you could avoid such side effects by consulting a specialist before consuming SARMs.

20 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. Therefore, we have strict sourcing guidelines, and our primary references include peer-reviewed research and academic and medical institution studies. 

  1. Report. Steroids and Other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs) Research. Published in: February 2018. Available from: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/introduction
  2. Shalender Bhasin, MD and Ravi Jasuja, PhD. Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) as Function Promoting Therapies. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 May; 12(3): 232–240. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32832a3d79
  3. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 Public Law 103-417 103rd Congress. Date of Publication: October 25, 1994. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/About/DSHEA_Wording.aspx
  4. Zachary J. Solomon,a Jorge Rivera Mirabal, M.D.,b Daniel J. Mazur, M.D.,b Taylor P. Kohn,a Larry I. Lipshultz, M.D.,b,c and Alexander W. Pastuszak, M.D. Ph.D.b,c. Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) – Current Knowledge and Clinical Applications. Sex Med Rev. 2019 Jan; 7(1): 84–94. Published online 2018 Nov 30. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.09.006
  5. Substance Profile: What Athletes Need to Know about Ostarine. USADA. February 6, 2017. Available from: https://www.usada.org/spirit-of-sport/education/substance-profile-ostarine/
  6. Lyndsay Meyer. FDA In Brief: FDA warns against using SARMs in body-building products. FDA In Brief. Oct. 31, 2017. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-brief/fda-brief-fda-warns-against-using-sarms-body-building-products
  7. About OCI. US FDA. 03/12/2018. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/inspections-compliance-enforcement-and-criminal-investigations/criminal-investigations/about-oci
  8. Iakov V Efimenko , David Valancy , Justin M Dubin , Ranjith Ramasamy. Adverse effects and potential benefits among selective androgen receptor modulators users: a cross-sectional survey. Int J Impot Res. 2021 Sep 1. doi: 10.1038/s41443-021-00465-0
  9. Mary Barbara, MD Sadhna Dhingra, MD, and Ayse L. Mindikoglu, MD, MPH. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Associated With Alpha Bolic (RAD-140) and Alpha Elite (RAD-140 and LGD-4033). 2020 Jun; 7(6): e00409. Published online 2020 Jun 18. doi: 10.14309/crj.0000000000000409
  10. Mary Barbara, MD, Sadhna Dhingra, MD, and Ayse L. Mindikoglu, MD, MPH. Ligandrol (LGD-4033)-Induced Liver Injury. 2020 Jun; 7(6): e00370. Published online 2020 Jun 11. doi: 10.14309/crj.0000000000000370
  11. Joan Ericka Flores,corresponding author Shivakumar Chitturi, and Sarah Walker. Drug‐Induced Liver Injury by Selective Androgenic Receptor Modulators. Hepatol Commun. 2020 Mar; 4(3): 450–452. Published online 2020 Jan 3. doi: 10.1002/hep4.1456
  12. C Bullmann, F Jockenhövel. [Gynecomastia in men]. Fortschr Med. 1998 Dec 20;116(35-36):18-22
  13. L M Lucas, K L Kumar, D L Smith. Gynecomastia. A worrisome problem for the patient. Postgrad Med. 1987 Aug;82(2):73-6, 79-81. doi: 10.1080/00325481.1987.11699925
  14. Antonio A.Nunez, John Nyby, and Glayde Whitney. The effects of testosterone, estradiol, and dihydrotestosterone on male mouse (Mus musculus) ultrasonic vocalizations. Hormones and Behavior. Volume 11, Issue 3, December 1978, Pages 264-272. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0018506X78900302
  16. Shehzad Basaria, Lauren Collins, E. Lichar Dillon, et al. The Safety, Pharmacokinetics, and Effects of LGD-4033, a Novel Nonsteroidal Oral, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator, in Healthy Young Men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013 Jan; 68(1): 87–95. Published online 2010 Mar 28. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gls078
  17. HEALTH EFFECTS OF DOPING. Available from: https://www.sportintegrity.gov.au/what-we-do/education/health-effects-of-doping#toc2
  18. Rabih El Osta,corresponding author Thierry Almont, Catherine Diligent, Nicolas Hubert, Pascal Eschwège, and Jacques Hubert. Anabolic steroids abuse and male infertility. Basic Clin Androl. 2016; 26: 2.
  19. SeemaPatel. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an inflammatory, systemic, lifestyle endocrinopathy. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Volume 182, September 2018, Pages 27-36. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960076018300396?via%3Dihub
  20. Guilherme Wesley Peixoto Da Fonseca, Elke Dworatzek, Stephan Von Haehling, et al. Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) as pharmacological treatment for muscle wasting in ongoing clinical trials. Date of Publication: 18 Jun 2020. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13543784.2020.1777275?journalCode=ieid20

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