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Does Anavar Cause Hair Loss in Women?

Kristin Hall

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 08/18/2021

Updated 09/18/2023

Anavar is one helluva drug. It promotes weight and muscle gain, meaning it can be a godsend for those who’ve lost too much weight from surgery or a long-lasting infection.

Like all drugs, it comes with side effects. But is Anavar hair loss a thing? 

We’ll save you the suspense and give it to you straight: Yes, Anavar can cause hair loss in women. But rest assured, it’s a rare side effect. So just because you’re taking the drug doesn’t mean you need to stock up on cute hats.

Read on to find out more about the evidence of Anavar causing hair loss and what you can do about it.

Anavar® is the brand name for oxandrolone. It causes weight gain, so it’s prescribed to those who’ve lost too much weight — such as from surgery, injury, chronic infection, trauma or an unknown reason.

Oxandrolone can also treat bone pain in people with osteoporosis — when your bones are weak and break easily. And it may prevent certain side effects in those taking corticosteroids long-term.

Oxandrolone is an anabolic androgenic steroid (a synthetic hormone that works similarly to testosterone). It ups the amount of protein your body makes, helping you put on weight. And it increases nitrogen retention and fat-free muscle mass.

Of course, you should only take Anavar if you need it — i.e., you’ve experienced serious weight loss and a healthcare provider recommends it as a treatment. 

You shouldn’t be taking Anavar to maximize your gym sessions, improve athletic performance or build muscle.

The quick answer? Anavar can cause hair loss. But it’s not guaranteed — and it’s not common.

But, yes, baldness in women is listed as an uncommon side effect of Anavar. And a paper on anabolic steroids — the type of steroid Anavar is — stated that male pattern baldness could be a side effect.

Anabolic steroid use could speed up hair loss caused by androgenic alopecia — a type of genetic hair loss known as male or female pattern baldness.

But this may not happen for everyone who takes the medication. It could be more prevalent in those genetically predisposed to balding.

Anavar is an anabolic steroid. Then there are corticosteroids, another type of steroid that could cause hair loss. But this, too, is not guaranteed.

In fact, it may do the opposite. 

For example, prednisone is a type of corticosteroid. One of its side effects is increased hair growth. And prednisolone — which prednisone is converted into in the liver — may even be used to treat hair loss.

A small study found that three monthly courses of prednisolone was an effective treatment for alopecia areata. With this autoimmune disease, the body attacks hair follicles, causing round bald patches.

Prednisolone wasn’t as effective for those with alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis, though. These conditions cause complete loss of scalp hair and complete loss of scalp and body hair, respectively.

But to throw a wrench in things, prednisolone isn’t all good news when it comes to hair. The medication Orapred ODT® contains prednisolone and is used to treat certain infections, among other medical conditions. One side effect, however, is thinning scalp hair.

In short, Anavar could cause hair loss. But it’s not guaranteed. Yay for clarity. 

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It’s more than just hair loss. Anavar side effects in females include:

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Changes in sex drive or ability

  • Enlargement of the breasts

Less common side effects of Anavar include: 

  • Swelling in the arms or legs 

  • New breakouts or worsening acne 

  • Abnormal periods or not menstruating at all 

  • Enlargement of the clitoris 

  • Deepening of the voice 

  • Increase in facial hair 

  • Frequent, difficult or painful urination 

  • Inability to control urination 

If you experience any of these side effects, contact a healthcare provider immediately. Some Anavar side effects may not get better if they’re not treated right away.

Guys might experience enlargement of the penis, decreased fertility or erections that happen often or don’t go away.

In kids, oxandrolone may prevent normal growth.

Steroids like Anavar can be abused by bodybuilders and athletes looking to add bulk and break PBs. But watch out because the effects of steroids go beyond your head of hair. 

Yes, it’s possible for steroids to cause hair loss. But anabolic androgenic steroids like Anavar can also lead to strokes, early heart attacks, kidney failure, liver tumors or psychiatric issues.

Noticing hair thinning, bald patches, a receding hairline or just more hair than usual in your brush? Several hair loss treatments out there can help.  

First, talk to a healthcare provider about your hair woes, as there are many potential causes of hair loss. A healthcare professional can figure out the culprit — it might not be Anavar — and recommend the best treatment options to help. 

They can advise you on whether it’s best to stop taking Anavar. Your provider may also suggest taking vitamins or supplements or making healthy lifestyle changes to improve your hair health.

A healthcare provider might recommend medication for hair growth, such as: 

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says minoxidil (often sold under the brand name Rogaine®) can help those with early hair loss. But it can’t help you regrow an entire head of hair.

Minoxidil can stop further hair loss and promote new hair growth. And you may start seeing effects in six to 12 months.

This medication is FDA-approved to treat androgenetic alopecia — both male and female pattern baldness. But it can also be used off-label to treat other forms of hair loss like alopecia areata and hair loss from chemotherapy.

Minoxidil is available as a foam or liquid solution. While not FDA-approved, oral doses of minoxidil have been shown to be effective at treating hair loss. 

Finasteride can also slow down hair loss and stimulate hair regrowth, though it’s currently only FDA-approved for this use in men.

Finasteride has shown some promise in women. However, it’s usually only prescribed to postmenopausal women, as it’s associated with birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Also, it might take as long as four months for finasteride to work, and it works best if you start treatment when you first notice hair loss.

Then there’s spironolactone, which is often used to treat female pattern baldness. It can stop further hair loss and make your hair thicker.

Spironolactone may cause birth defects, though, so it’s crucial that you don’t become pregnant while taking it. You may even be prescribed birth control to take spironolactone if you’re of childbearing age — just to be extra safe.

Beyond meds, other treatments for hair loss include: 

  • Microneedling 

  • Injections of corticosteroids

  • Laser therapy 

  • Hair transplant  

There’s also research into isolates from the monoterpenoid family as a treatment for hair loss.

These isolates have been shown to inhibit fibroblast growth factor 5. This protein in the body is involved in how quickly your hair moves on from the growing phase to the next phase of hair growth. This eventually leads to your hair shedding.

We’ve covered more about hair shedding versus hair loss in our blog.

One study found that a topical solution containing one of these isolates reduced hair fallout and increased hair density in both men and women.  

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Anavar can help you put on pounds when you’ve lost weight due to surgery or an infection. Some may turn to the steroid for more shady reasons like muscle growth. Either way, Anavar could wreak havoc on your hair.

Here’s the need-to-know on Anavar and hair loss:

  • Anavar may cause hair loss. Baldness in women is listed as a possible side effect. But it’s not a guarantee, and it’s not common — although it may be more common among those genetically predisposed to it. 

  • Steroids and hair loss have an “it’s complicated” relationship. Some steroids cause hair loss, and others are used as a hair loss treatment. 

  • Plenty of hair loss treatments are out there. They range from meds like minoxidil and finasteride to laser therapy and microneedling.

Ready to get back to a life of luxurious locks? We’ve got a quick and easy online quiz to help you find the best hair loss treatments for your needs.

15 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Oxandrolone. (n.d.). https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604024.html
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information (2023). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 5878, Oxandrolone. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Oxandrolone
  3. Hoffman, J. R., & Ratamess, N. A. (2006). Medical issues associated with anabolic steroid use: are they exaggerated?. Journal of sports science & medicine, 5(2), 182–193. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827559/
  4. Ho, C. H., Sood, T., & Zito, P. M. (2022, October 16). Androgenetic Alopecia - Statpearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
  5. Hodgens, A., Sharman, T. (2023, May 1). Corticosteroids - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554612/
  6. Puckett, Y., Gabbar, A., & Bokhari, A. A. (2023, March 27). Prednisone - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534809/
  7. Efentaki, P., Altenburg, A., Haerting, J., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2009). Medium-dose prednisolone pulse therapy in alopecia areata. Dermato-endocrinology, 1(6), 310–313. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092572/
  8. Lepe, K., Zito, P. M. (2023, May 18). Alopecia Areata - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537000/
  9. Abbott, J., Rapini, R. P. (2023, February 5). Totalis Alopecia - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563225/
  10. Highlights of prescribing information. (n.d.). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/021959s004lbl.pdf
  11. Anabolic Steroids and Other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs). (n.d.). https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/anabolic-steroids
  12. Hair Loss: Diagnosis and Treatment. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/diagnosis-treat
  13. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug design, development and therapy, 13, 2777–2786. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  14. Badri, T., Nessel, T. A., & Kumar D., D. (2023, February 21). Minoxidil - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  15. Burg, D., Yamamoto, M., Namekata, M., Haklani, J., Koike, K., & Halasz, M. (2017). Promotion of anagen, increased hair density and reduction of hair fall in a clinical setting following identification of FGF5-inhibiting compounds via a novel 2-stage process. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 10, 71–85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5338843/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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