The unfortunate yet hard truth in the sport of bodybuilding, is that the sacrifice to win, is directly related to your willingness to use androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS). One of the most common, Nandrolone, also known as 19-nortestosterone and by its brand named Deca-Durabolin, or simply as “Deca”, is a modified and synthetic form of testosterone, used to increase muscle size, strength, and enhance performance. In this article, we will analyze and examine the uses, benefits, and side effects of deca and how it works.
What Is Deca Durabolin [Nandrolone]
Deca, is an androgenic-anabolic steroid (AAS). All AASs are derivatives and molecular modifications of the endogenous hormone testosterone. Deca is a steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) and is part of the 19-nor testosterone (nandrolone) series of compounds. Removal of the 19 methyl increases anabolic to androgenic activity, in this series of compounds.
Nandrolone esters were first described in the late 1950’s when other anabolic and steroidal SARMS were being investigated.
Nandrolone esters, have been used in investigational studies to treat indications associated with muscle wasting (cachexia and sarcopenia), HIV/AIDS, as well as osteoporosis and breast cancer.
How Does Deca Work, What Does Deca Do
Unlike the 17α-alkylated steroids (such as Winstrol and Anavar), which are orally bioavailable and already 5α reduced, Nandrolone is reduced by 5α reductase in target tissues to a less potent much weaker androgen receptor ligand, 5α-dihydronandrolone (DHN), which has both reduced biding affinity for the androgen receptor relative to nandrolone in vitro and weaker AR agonistic potency in vivo [R] but it is less susceptible to aromatization to estrogen.
Deca is not potentiated in androgenic tissues such as the skin, hair follicles, and prostate gland. This results in less virilizing effects, and a greater ratio of anabolic to androgenic activity.
The lack of alkylation of 17α-carbon makes nandrolone less hepatoxic, than oral steroids.
Unlike many other AAS, a unique characteristic of deca, is that it is a potent progestogen. It binds to the progesterone receptor (PR), with approximately 22% the affinity of progesterone. The progesteronic activity of nandrolone augments the antigonadotropic effects as antigonadotropic action is a known property of progestogens [R].
Increased Lean Body Mass
AASs were created as a potential alternative to testosterone, to have more anabolic and less androgenic effects. Anabolic androgenic steroids like deca, potentiate androgen receptor activity and have high tissue selectivity for muscle and bone. nandrolone esters are thought to have the highest ratio of anabolic to androgenic effects of any AAS [R].
In a clinical setting nandrolone is applicable in clinical practice for burns, radiation therapy, surgery, trauma, and various forms of anemia [R].
Off label however and illicitly nandrolone is used to preserve lean muscle mass and applied to medical conditions such as cachexia and sarcopenia, associated with AIDS and HIV [R].
Nandrolone deaconate, administered every 2 weeks at a therapeutic dosage of 100mg, showed increased weight, lean body mass, and quality of life increases in patients with HIV/AIDS [R].
Increases Bone Mineral Density
Selective androgen receptor modulators or agonists, like deca, also have a high binding affinity for bone. AAS have been thoroughly investigated for conditions like osteoporosis. Studies show that therapeutic doses of 50mg via intramuscular injection, every three weeks, showed significant increases in bone mineral density and reduction in bone pain [R].
Androgens have direct mechanistic action on osteoblasts, stimulating bone formation.
A 2-year a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, investigating the effects of nandrolone nandrolone decanoate (ND) on bone mineral density (BMD), found that deca increased bone mineral density, hemoglobin levels, and muscle mass, and reduced the vertebral fracture rate of elderly osteoporotic women [R].
Deca Side Effects
Typically, anabolic steroids are taken in cycles of about 6–12 weeks (the ‘on period’) followed by a variable period off the drugs, from 4 weeks to several months (the ‘off period’) in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of undesirable effects but some bodybuilders will take them almost continuously.
At therapeutic dosages, AAS can be relatively safe, however, used in a performance enhancing method at supraphysiological doses, can result in many adverse effects.
Since, using performance enhancing drugs like AAS is a clandestine activity, bodybuilders and recreational athletes are making subjective decisions of dose and effect, based on little to no investigation, or based upon misinformation, often easily accessible via social media.
Common acute side effects of nandrolone or deca use include
Nausea and vomiting
Mood changes, particularly stress, irritability, aggression, and depression
Long term chronic side effects of deca include
Increased cholesterol (LDL) and lowered (HDL)
Androgenic effects such as
Change in testicular size
Male pattern baldness
Changes in libido and sex drive
Since deca is administered intra-muscularly, it disassociated with less hepatoxic effects, than oral steroids, or 17α – alkylated steroids.
Deca will result in lower and suppressed testosterone levels, therefore, post cycle therapy is recommended to optimize hormonal levels and balance.
Deca is much more anabolic than testosterone. a randomized controlled trial comparing testosterone vs nandrolone, were randomly assigned to receive nandrolone decanoate (150 mg), testosterone (250 mg) or placebo intramuscularly every 2 weeks for 12 weeks. Treatment with nandrolone resulted in significantly greater increases in fat-free mass and weight when compared to testosterone and placebo [R].