‘Sustaining masculinity’: a scoping review of anabolic androgenic steroid use by older males

Evelyn Hearne, Amanda Atkinson, Ian Boardley, Jim McVeigh, Marie Claire Van Hout

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the past, research, policy and media have reported the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) primarily among younger males. However, recent studies have indicated the presence of an older cohort of men who use AAS in comparison to previous years. We carried out a scoping review of the extant literature to map and describe what is known about the use of AAS by older men (>40 years). A systematic search collected and analysed empirical research and grey literature relevant to the research question. Following application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, 44 studies were included which were subsequently charted and thematically analysed. The records included originated from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Slovenia, Norway, Spain, Turkey, Switzerland, Japan, and five global studies and were published between 1996 and 2021. Age ranged overall from 14 to 78 years old, however our review only discussed findings pertaining to those older than 40. Three main themes with subthemes were generated as follows: 1) Characteristics of AAS Use; Self-reported Adverse Effects from AAS Use; and Harms Diagnosed by Medical Professional. The review highlights the significant risks to hypothalamic-pituitary testicular function, cardiovascular health, and other organ systems as a result of the ageing man who is motivated to sustain masculine characteristics such as muscularity, youthfulness, sexual function, and perceived desirability and attractiveness. Future research is required to further understand the motivations of older men who use AAS. Furthermore, there is a need for age-specific research and recommendations to inform future policy and practice pertaining so that age-appropriate healthcare and policy decisions can be made in the future.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ageing
  • Anabolic steroids
  • cardiovascular health
  • healthcare
  • masculinity
  • wellbeing


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