If there’s one question that bodybuilders and athletes ask before starting a cycle with anabolic steroids, it’s “how long do steroids stay in your system?”
The answer can vary based on the steroid being used, so understanding more about steroid half-lives can help you decide which steroid is the best choice for your needs. Included below is also a detection table.
What Is a Half-Life and What Does it Mean?
A steroid’s half-life is the amount of time it takes before half of the steroid introduced into your body is gone.
This can provide some insight into the amount of time that a particular compound will stay in your system, as well. Different steroids have different half-lives, and the longer the half-life, the longer it will take for the compound to exit your system completely.
- Anadrol – 16 hours or less
- Andriol (testosterone undecanoate) – 8 hours or less
- Dianabol – 6 to 8 hours for oral; 60-72 hours for injectable
- Halotestin – 6 to 8 hours
- Anavar – 8 to 12 hours
- Primobolan (tablets)– 4 to 6 hours
- Winstrol (tablets) – 8 hours
- Equipoise – 7 to 9 days
- Masteron (enanthate) – 8 days
- Masteron (propionate) – 2 to 3 days
- Primobolan Depot (injectable) – 10 to 14 days
- Winstrol Depot (injectable) – 48 hours
- Deca Durabolin – 14 to 16 days
- Trenbolone – 2 to 3 days
Most athletes pair their anabolic steroids with a testosterone base, and just like steroids, different testosterone esters have different half-lives, as well.
- Testosterone acetate – 48 hours
- Testosterone propionate – 72 hours
- Testosterone cypionate – 16 days
- Testosterone enanthate – 8 days
- Testosterone suspension – about 24 hours
As such, athletes who are concerned with steroid testing and detection often avoid testosterone esters with longer half-lives, such as testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate, and instead stick to those that leave the system much more quickly.
Half-Lives Associated with Common Supplements
In some cases, a steroid test may also look for common supplements used during a steroid cycle or afterward as part of post-cycle therapy.
- Arimidex – 4 to 6 hours
- Clomid – 8 to 12 hours
- HCG – 64 hours
- Nolvadex – less than 24 hours
- Clenbuterol – as long as 68 hours
Half-Life vs. Detection Times
Of course, to answer the question “how long do steroids stay in your system”, it is important to understand that a compound’s half-life is not the same as its detection time. Remember that a half-life is the length of time at which half of the active compound has left the body.
Detection time, on the other hand, describes the length of time between when a substance is introduced into the body and when it could show up on a steroid test.
Although there are some very complicated equations that you could use to calculate the detection times associated with just about any exogenous compound you use, it is best to refer to a list compiled by thousands of bodybuilders (below).
Factors that Influence Detection Times
Before using any list of detection times to determine whether you are “safe” to take a steroid test, it is important to remember that there are a number of factors that could determine how long a steroid remains in your bloodstream.
These include things from the length of time you used a particular steroid to the potency of the drug, particularly if you acquired it from a dealer at a gym or in a country where steroids are not bound to strict regulations.
What’s more, your own unique tolerance to a steroid, your fluid intake, and your body’s metabolism can all play a role in determining how long it will take before the steroid is no longer detectable in your body.
When asking “How long do steroids stay in your system?” the following factors will all play the most important roles, so be sure to consider them carefully.
- The type of steroid you use. Simply put, it is easier to get away with bodybuilding doses of some steroids than it is others. Testosterone suspension with no ester can be completely gone in as little as 24 hours, but testosterone enanthate may hang on for months. Think about this before you decide on a steroid to use in your next cycle.
- The properties of the steroid itself. Some steroids create markers that are highly identifiable in your urine; others are only highly identifiable in your blood. To put this into perspective, Winstrol and Deca Durabolin are considered among the most “dangerous” steroids for those who are subject to any sort of urine screening. It is very rare for any organization to use a blood test for steroids, as well, so keep this in mind.
- Dose and cycle length. For obvious reasons, the more steroid you use and the longer you use it will also increase your detection risks and lengthen your detection times. The more you take, the more your body must process out, and the more stress this puts on your body. This means that if you’re using doses higher than recommended, you may actually be slowing your body’s ability to metabolize that substance out.
- Oral versus injectable delivery. For the most part, oral steroids reach peak levels in your blood faster, so they’re faster to completely leave your body, too. The hormone is alkylated so it can be processed through the liver, which puts it into your bloodstream much more quickly. Injectable steroids are much the opposite; they release more slowly into the bloodstream and take more time to filter out.
- The steroid’s ability to metabolize. Some steroids are very resistant to being metabolized, which means they will not only stay in your body for a very long time, but they will also show up in your urine in large amounts for a long time, too. Trenbolone is one of the biggest offenders in this category; it is not easily metabolized by the body, and it creates urine markers that are unmistakable, even weeks after your last dose.
- The steroid’s fat solubility. For all intents and purposes, anabolic steroids are lipids, which makes them fat soluble. As a result, traces of the steroids you use will absorb into your body’s fat stores, and their metabolites can stay there for weeks or even months. In fact, it’s possible for some steroids, like Deca Durabolin, to be detected for well over a year after use.
Detection Times of Popular Steroids
The table below represents the average detection times associated with popular anabolic steroids, testosterone esters, and supplements commonly used in bodybuilding or performance enhancement.
These are only averages, and you should therefore use the information found here as a basic guideline. Also, keep in mind that these detection times are only true for athletes or bodybuilders who may be subject to urine tests; they do not adequately represent detection times for anyone who may be subject to a blood test. What’s more, hair follicle tests are typically not used for steroid testing.
Ways to Beat Steroid Tests
The internet is filled with tips and tricks for beating anabolic steroid tests, but for the most part, none of these truly work.
In the early- to mid-2000s, a number of “designer” steroids that were supposed to be undetectable showed up on the market, and while they did seem to get by testing for a while, it wasn’t long before the tests themselves became more sophisticated.
These days, the only true way to beat a steroid test is to keep half-lives and detection times in mind, then plan your cycle based on your potential test dates.
With this information in mind, people will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid the risks associated with steroid detection times. Most simply stop using steroids in enough time to pass naturally, but others will go to extremes.
Unfortunately, most of these are quite risky, and a few are downright uncomfortable. None of them are recommended. It’s better to ask yourself, “How long do steroids stay in your system?” and make the appropriate arrangements.
- Using fake urine – Fake urine comes in both liquid and powder form, and while it was the go-to means of overriding steroid detection times for many years, tests these days are sophisticated enough to tell the urine isn’t real.
- Using someone else’s urine – Sometimes individuals will ask someone “clean” to provide a urine sample, then carry it with them. This comes with its own risks, and it only works if you will have privacy during the test. In most cases, a medical professional is in the room with you as you provide your sample, so this is not a solution.
- Bladder loading – Some people have gone so far as to “load” someone else’s clean urine into their bladders using a catheter, but this creates a serious risk for infection and does not guarantee you will skate by the steroid detection times.
- Drug masking agents – Drug masking agents don’t lower steroid detection times; rather, they are designed to prevent certain substances from showing up on tests. However, many screenings can now pick up on these agents, too.
What About HGH? Is it Truly Undetectable?
There are many rumors circulating the internet and athletic/bodybuilding crowds that HGH is completely undetectable in any standard steroid test.
However, this is not the case. In all actuality, there are some highly specialized tests out there that can quantify HGH anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after the last injection. As such, should you choose to supplement with HGH, keep this in mind.
How long do steroids stay in your system? The answer varies based on several different factors, including the steroid you used, the length of time you used it, and your body’s unique chemistry.
Although there are no tried-and-true ways to effectively beat a steroid test, you can use information about these compounds’ half-lives and detection times to your advantage.