In this article on what to expect with SARMs side effects, we will delve into commonly reported SARMs side effects, anecdotal SARMs side effects, and my personal experiences.

We will discuss in detail the most common SARMs side effects and what can be expected from SARM-like substances (cardarine, ibutamoren).

First we’ll start with some side effects that are common to all SARMs. We’ll talk about specific SARMs, and also other SARM-like substances later.

General SARMs Side Effects Intro

SARMs Side Effects
SARMs Side Effects – Protect Your Liver

It’s worth noting, first of all, that although SARMs may have side effects, they are generally far less than those of other androgenic agents like steroids and exogenous testosterone (testosterone replacement therapy).

SARMs bind to the androgen receptors and mimic the effects of testosterone, increasing protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth. This is also what steroids do, but SARMs generally have an advantage over steroids, because they only bind to receptors in skeletal muscle tissue; they are more ‘specific’, hence the ‘selective’ in the name (‘selective androgen receptor modulators’). 

Steroids, by contrast, work on other tissues in the body and have, as a result, been linked to all sorts of side effects, including prostate and heart problems. SARMs are also non-aromatising, meaning that they are not converted to estrogen by the body in an attempt to maintain the body’s testosterone-to-estrogen balance.

By contrast, aromatisation can occur when using steroids or testosterone injections, which upset that balance, leading to problems such as gynecomastia (formation of breast tissue), which in severe cases, such as that of the Rock Dwayne Johnson, may even require surgery.

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The Rock before and after surgery for gynecomastia

3 Commonly Noted SARMs Side Effects

1. Suppression of testosterone

As with steroids, the use of SARMs will reduce natural testosterone levels. The reduction will correspond with the amount of you take and for how long. You may notice some visible shrinkage of the testicles.

As a result, after a cycle of SARMs, it may be wise to engage in a round of post-cycle therapy (PCT), as many steroid users do. Note, though, that because the side effects, at least in the short term, appear to be much less serious than for steroids, the post-cycle therapy will almost certainly need to be less severe. Post-cycle therapy helps to restore your natural testosterone levels, and may last up to six weeks. Various supplements and medications are available, which we will discuss in a separate article on SARMs stacks. You can begin post-cycle therapy as soon as you stop taking SARMs.

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Ostarine is generally referred to as the ‘least suppressive’ of the SARMs, and a short cycle with a low dosage may not require any PCT at all, whereas other SARMs, such as Ligandrol, almost certainly will require a PCT. Experience may, however, vary from person to person.

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2. Changes to blood profile and liver enzymes — Potentially Dangerous SARMs Side Effects

Some studies have suggested that there may be changes to the user’s blood profile, especially to cholesterol levels, and that levels of liver enzymes may increase, a sign of increased strain on the liver. [R]

 It should be noted that there needs to be further investigation to understand the clinical significance of changes to HDL cholesterol levels in particular as a result of oral androgen administration. Whether or not this is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, for instance, remains unclear.

One study suggested that SARMs might cause not just elevated liver enzyme levels but actual liver damage. [R] Careful examination of that study suggests clear flaws that bring that conclusion into doubt. The first of the two subjects studied was a binge drinker, which is more likely to have caused the liver damage, and the second was on an antidepressant (Venlafaxine) associated with high liver toxicity. [R] [R]

The interaction of SARMs with other drugs, such as antidepressants, also awaits further investigation.

Please consult your physician if you are consuming SSRIs and wish to take performance enhancing drugs. SARMs side effects aside, SSRIs and certain supplements might not mix well. The goal is to train for longevity and health — even though you might look to take training to the next level.

3. Other SARMs side effects

Others have reported reduced sex drive, hair loss, headaches, acne and mood swings, but it’s not immediately clear whether these symptoms are a result of the SARMs themselves or of other ingredients included with them. Some of these symptoms are clearly associated, though, with reduced natural testosterone levels, which we have discussed in point 1 above. One Reddit user writes:

‘My second O [Ostarine] cycle same bottle and batch but I’m having erection low libido issues when engaged in sexual activities, but otherwise feel great.’ [R]

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On other SARMs side effects, another subject writes:

‘RAD makes me shed a bit [of hair] but not balding. Like dropping random ass hairs a bit more frequently. Stops when I stop taking it.’ [R]

Again, it’s worth noting that experiences vary between users. For instance, this Redditor and RAD-140 user experienced an increase in his sex drive, something others also corroborated in response to his post. One of the many potential SARMs Side Effects includes a lowering of LH and FSH.

‘I’ve been on rad-140 for about 5 weeks, started at 10mg a day, the past week has been 20mg. My sex drive and libido is through the roof, however.. Over the past few days I’ve started only having dry ejaculations (orgasm with little to no seamen [sic]). I would imagine that if my natural test was suppressed my sex drive would be lowered, but its significantly higher than before the cycle started, so I dont know what could cause this issue.’ [R]

SARMs Side Effects of Specific Compounds

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1. Ligandrol & Others

One user’s comparison of Ostarine and Ligandrol

If Ligandrol has a specific side effect, it would appear to be increased water retention by comparison with other SARMs like Ostarine. Here is one user’s experience:

‘While on it My muscles were fuller all the time which made me look bigger. On the other hand the water retention was crazy so in the morning i would look decent yet at night would look thicc af, I’m very genetically vascular and the only time I was influenced was around night time when it was the most bloated . Weight would fluctuate about 6 pounds between morning and night. Lost about 3 pounds within 2 days of coming off.’ [R]

Others claim to have experienced no such effects.

Commonly reported SARMs side effects for compounds such as Ostarine and RAD 140 are similar to Ligandrol.

One bizarre anecdotal side effect of RAD 140 has been a watery consistency of the subject’s semen.

SARMs Side Effects on RAD140

2. Andarine

SARMs Side Effects: S4
SARMs Side Effects: S4

A very common unique side effect of Andarine use is altered vision. [R] It’s not immediately clear why Andarine causes altered vision, but the effects seem to be the same: a yellow tint and also difficulty adjusting to changes in light levels, especially at night.

One user writes:

‘I’m really sensitive to the sides. At just 50mg I get the yellow tint over my sight, and some night blindness. The effects wore off after about 4-6 days.’ [R]

Another writes:

‘I ran 50mgs of S4 for 6 weeks on a mini cut and did not see the vision side effect kick in till about half way through week 2. First it was barely noticeable and just a yellow tint on white walls. Then it progresssed to be a mild light sensitivity when going from outside back to indoors.

‘Everything was much darker then it appeared until my eyes got adjusted. At night time it started to feel as if my peripheral vision was slightly restricted (as if I was wearing binoculars.) I went up on my dosage to 60mg towards the last 2 weeks and the vision sides only got slightly worse. The night time peripheral blindness was alarming at first but I got used to it quickly. My driving was not completely impaired because of this.’ [R]

3. Cardarine

Cardarine: SARMs Side Effects

Cardarine is technically a PPARδ receptor agonist and not a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM); nonetheless, because of its similar characteristics and effects and because it is regularly stacked with SARMS, Cardarine is generally treated as a SARM.

One of the most concerning potential side effects with Cardarine is its potential carcinogenicity, reported in early animal trials. [R, see page 189] While a gymbro, bodybuilder or professional athlete might be willing to tolerate mood swings or the vision-altering side effects of Andarine in their quest to improve their physical performance, it’s probably safe to say that all but the most hellbent would baulk at the thought of dramatically increasing their risk of cancer to do so. But is the risk real?

Putting to one side the differences between rodent and human metabolism, what can definitely be said about the early animal trials is that a seriously high dose was administered to the animals, for a long time. In the principal trial in question, the equivalent of a massive human dose was administered to the rats for a period of 104 weeks. By contrast, in the human trials that have taken place, in which no real side effects were noted, the doses (up to 10 mg/day) were administered for periods of no longer than 12 weeks.

Anecdotal experience, at least, supports the human trials. Interestingly enough, PPARδ receptor agonists like cardarine may actually have some role in fighting rather than causing cancer. [R] [R]

Cardarine has also been known to cause some stomach irritation.

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4. Ibutamoren

Ibutamoren MK-677 by Rats Army
Ibutamoren MK-677 by Rats Army (SARMs Side Effects)

Ibutamoren, also known as MK-677, is a non-peptide agonist of the ghrelin receptors and a growth hormone secretagogue. In simple terms, this means that Ibutamoren mimics the growth-hormone stimulating effects of the hormone ghrelin. Although Ibutamoren is not a SARM, it is commonly used in SARM stacks and its effects are similar to those of SARMs; namely, muscle growth and increased bone density, as well as other potentially beneficial effects.

Ibutamoren works by promoting the secretion of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), both of which, broadly considered, stimulate processes of growth within the body, including muscle mass and strength increases, as well as reductions in body fat.

General low-level side effects reported for Ibutamoren include increased appetite, some localised mild swelling and muscular pain. Joint pain and insulin resistance are generally associated with increased levels of growth hormone, and Ibutamoren has also been noted to increase fasting blood glucose and reduce insulin sensitivity. [R] [R

In a study of elderly patients with hip fractures who were administered Ibutamoren, a number of the subjects experienced congestive heart failure; although it should be noted that they had a history of heart failure. [R] [R]

A more obvious cause for concern is the known role of growth hormone and IGF-1 in stimulating cancer growth. [R] As a result, it’s advisable that cancer sufferers should avoid taking Ibutamoren. 

My Personal SARMs Side Effects

I have previously documented my SARMs side effects in our recent article reviewing US based SARMs provider Swiss Chems.

As I mentioned:

With all good things, there is a catch — and for SARMs it’s no different.

Before diving into this cycle, I had researched the compounds I was going to take, but the side-effects you’ll experience vary from person to person.

The most commonly reported side-effects for LGD-4033 are:

  • Testosterone suppression
  • Raised Liver Enzymes
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Dry Mouth
  • Headaches
  • Proneness to Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
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I am prone to stomach problems as I damaged my stomach lining when I was 10. I have to be cautious with certain foods and acidic drinks such as soda and alcohol, plus I have to be cautious with anti-inflammatories/aspirin.

From around week 2, I was having abdominal pains consistent with my stomach condition as I attempted to intermittent fast to keep my caloric intake down. To remedy these pains, I took a daily dose of Omeprazole and ate a light snack whenever these pains flared.

I also decided to buy some Swiss Chems NAC and Milk Thistle to alleviate some pains on the right side of my abdomen as I believed the compounds may have also been affecting my liver.

From around week 5, my blood pressure shot up to the point where I would experience as I raised my daily dose of LGD-4033 to 10mg. To counteract this, I would lower my dose to 7-8mg a day, do daily cardio, plus supplement garlic extract and niacin.

I did not experience other side-effects; test suppression appears to be minimal with no noticeable hypogonadism (shrinking testicles) and my mood, energy levels, and libido are about the same overall [even though I experienced mild pain in that region in the first couple of weeks].

We have an article on how to know whether you have low testosterone levels.

Side note: I haven’t been able to get blood work done to ensure everything is order, but this will be something I shall document in future cycles.

SARMs Side Effects — Conclusion

If you wish to take SARMs, you will probably experience at least one of the listed SARMs side effects.

SARMs absolutely do work, but side effects are something you need to prepare for.

Of course, we recommend you consult a physician before consuming SARMs and for you to monitor your blood work to mitigate SARMs side effects.

Take correct protocols to combat any potential SARMs side effects.

For example, LGD-4033 elevated my blood pressure; so I started supplementing Niacin, Garlic Extract, and upped my cardio.

I also bought NAC to combat any hepatotoxicity — a potentially common SARMs side effect.

If you’re prone to stomach irritation, it would be wise to keep esomeprazole or pantoprazole on hand to stave off any issues.

Deploying the correct protocols during and after your SARMs cycles can make a clear difference to reduce SARMs side effects.

Before you decide to take any PED or compound please make sure that you read our article on what criteria you must be able to fulfill before wisely taking performance enhancements, such as SARMs.

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Disclaimer: we are not medical professionals. If you wish to consume SARMs and/or other performance enhancing drugs, we urge that you take the appropriate channels and consult your physician. Please ensure that you request comprehensive bloodwork to protect your health, under the care of your physician.
For more than just SARMs Side Effects, read our long guide

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