Oxandrolone, sold under the brand names Oxandrin and Anavar among others, is an androgen and anabolic steroid (AAS) medication which is used to help promote weight gain in various situations, to help offset protein catabolism caused by long-term corticosteroid therapy, to support recovery from severe burns, to treat bone pain associated with osteoporosis, to aid in the development of girls with Turner syndrome, and for other indications. It is taken by mouth.
Side effects of oxandrolone include symptoms of masculinization like acne, increased hair growth, voice changes, and increased sexual desire. Uniquely among most AAS that are active by mouth, it seems to have little risk of liver damage. The drug is a syntheticandrogen and anabolic steroid and hence is an agonist of the androgen receptor (AR), the biological target of androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It has strong anabolic effects and weak androgenic effects, which give it a mild side effect profile and make it especially suitable for use in women.
Oxandrolone was first described in 1962 and was introduced for medical use in 1964. It is used mostly in the United States. In addition to its medical use, oxandrolone is used to improve physique and performance. The drug is a controlled substance in many countries and so non-medical use is generally illicit.
Oxandrolone has been researched and prescribed as a treatment for a wide variety of conditions. It is FDA-approved for treating bone pain associated with osteoporosis, aiding weight gain following surgery or physical trauma, during chronic infection, or in the context of unexplained weight loss, and counteracting the catabolic effect of long-term corticosteroid therapy. As of 2016, it is often prescribed off-label to quicken recovery from severe burns, aid the development of girls with Turner syndrome, and counteract HIV/AIDS-induced wasting. Oxandrolone improves both short-term and long-term outcomes in people recovering from severe burns and is well-established as a safe treatment for this indication. It is also used in the treatment of idiopathic short stature, anemia, hereditary angioedema, alcoholic hepatitis, and hypogonadism.
Medical research has established the effectiveness of oxandrolone in aiding the development of girls with Turner syndrome. Although oxandrolone has long been used to accelerate growth in children with idiopathic short stature, it is unlikely to increase adult height, and in some cases may even decrease it. Oxandrolone has, therefore, largely been replaced by growth hormone for this use. Children with idiopathic short stature or Turner syndrome are given doses of oxandrolone far smaller than those given to people with burns in order to minimize the likelihood of virilization and premature maturation.
Many bodybuilders and athletes use oxandrolone for its muscle-building effects. It is much more anabolic than androgenic, so women and those seeking less intense steroid regimens use it particularly often. Many also value oxandrolone’s low hepatotoxicity relative to most other orally active AAS.
Like other AAS, oxandrolone may worsen hypercalcemia by increasing osteolytic bone resorption. When taken by pregnant women, oxandrolone may have unintended effects such as masculinization on the fetus.