Post-Cycle Therapy: What is it? How should it be done correctly?
Post-Cycle Therapy- The Most Potent Hormone Restoration Method
Table of Content
- What is PCT?
- Important elements of a successful PCT
- What do steroids do inside the human body that leads you to have a PCT?
- What are the popular PCT supplements?
- SERMs: Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulars
- Natural Anabolics
- OTC Post Cycle Therapy Supplements
- HCG - Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
- Recommended Dosage of PCT Supplements
- Timings of PCT
- PCT Duration
- PCT for Females
- How will you know if your body is demanding PCT?
- Do SARMs require a PCT?
- PCT Pros and Cons
If you are a regular user of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, or you're planning to do a cycle anytime soon, then you must become knowledgeable about Post Cycle Therapy. Post Cycle Therapy is aimed at handling the hormonal imbalance that happens from the use of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) or prohormones. The quicker the hormones go back to normal, the better, to avoid adverse effects in the long term and to retain the progress that you have made by the use of steroids. The main purpose of doing PCT is to recover natural testosterone production. Other than that, a well-planned PCT is a regimen of supplements and lifestyle adjustments that assist in the maintenance of muscle gains, balancing of natural hormones, alleviating potential side effects, and enhancing overall physical health. For hormonal balance to be restored, health problems to be avoided, and muscle mass to be preserved, PCT requires excellent testosterone recovery, estrogen and progesterone control, and cortisol management. An effective PCT arrangement not only includes taking pills but also involves a proper nutritious diet plan, taking the right supplements in the correct quantity, and taking enough rest and recovery.
Testosterone recovery, cortisol management, and estrogen and progesterone control are critical factors in a successful PCT plan. Maintaining muscle growth and restoring the body's natural hormonal balance depends on testosterone recovery while keeping healthy levels of estrogen and progesterone helps guard against potential health problems brought on by hormonal imbalances. Cortisol management plays a significant role in hindering muscle breakdown and maintaining overall physical and mental health as well.
People can optimize their PCT procedures and come out of the process healthier, more powerful, and with a better awareness of their body's demands by maintaining a balanced diet, taking the right supplements, and making sure they get enough rest and recuperation. PCT should be merged with other lucrative supplements like pre-workout, protein powder, branched-chain amino acids, fish oil, multi-vitamin and joint support to get optimum results. Other physical activities, such as recovery workouts and training, play a key role during PCT, as it assists in preserving muscle mass and strength gains accomplished during the cycle. Successful training and recuperation during PCT as well as restoring your body's natural hormone production, depend on getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and staying well hydrated. The purpose of a PCT is to drastically speed up this procedure, and so hasten the return of natural testosterone production. Additionally, it is essential to be observant of your body's needs and adjust your training and recovery methods accordingly.
Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) is a process in which bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts consume medications to revive endogenous natural testosterone production. The continuous consumption of specific prohormones or anabolic steroids can usually repress the body’s natural testosterone production. This results in several undesirable effects, such as mood swings, low libido, and enlarged breast tissues in men called gynecomastia. Anabolic compounds undermine the Hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis function, as the brain discovers high serum testosterone levels in the body. Hence, the body signals to discontinue testosterone production in the body to keep homeostasis by blocking Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This reduces the release of Luteinizing Hormone-LH and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone-FSH – two hormones that are significant for testosterone synthesis. Consequently, when a steroid consumer goes off steroids, the exogenous testosterone is eliminated from the body which results in shut down of natural testosterone. This can culminate in several physiological and psychological spillover effects. The most common of them can be:
- Low libido
- Reduced Well-being
- Muscle loss – Catabolism
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Testicular Atrophy
- Reduced Sperm Count
The intensity of the above effects completely relies on the steroids consumed, the length of its cycle, and the dosage pattern. According to some studies, low testosterone can stay for a couple of weeks or maybe months of post-cycle, enhancing the chances of addiction because of acute withdrawal symptoms lasting. It has been observed that effective PCTs help retain up to 80% of lean muscle gains from a cycle.
When selecting a PCT supplement, it is important to consider individual elements, such as lifestyle, age, diet, and medical history, as individual reactions to these supplements can diverge considerably. Various categories of drugs can be used as PCT supplements, as mentioned below:
It is a category of drugs commonly consumed in PCT to adjust estrogen levels and enhance testosterone production. Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) and Clomid (Clomifene) are examples that lie in the SERMs category. It is recommended for those recovering from intense hormonal suppression, which occurs after a prolonged cycle that involves several steroids. Increased testosterone levels and a quicker recovery time after a cycle can be achieved with the use of Clomid and estrogen blockers. SERMs can be quite successful at speeding up the healing process, but they can also have undesirable effects such as headaches, nausea, and vision changes. These supplements can only be used under the direct supervision of a medical expert and with the use of a valid prescription.
Natural anabolics are drugs that can encourage an increase in strength, muscle mass and overall performance without any requirement for synthetic anabolics. These compounds can be exceptionally valuable during PCT, since they can assist in maintaining muscle gains and also helps in the recovery process. An example of natural anabolic is Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which results in enhanced sexual function, improved muscle growth, and minimized depression symptoms.
Over-the-counter or OTC medicines, vitamins and dietary supplements are dietary supplements created with natural ingredients to enhance testosterone production and minimize estrogen levels. These supplements, including Post Cycle 3x and Rebirth PCT, may work well in place of or in addition to prescription drugs like SERMs. Must get professional healthcare guidance before starting any supplement regimen.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, also known as HCG, is a hormone generally generated in pregnant women. It is a member of the Glycoprotein Hormone Family that helps to build the placenta surrounding the embryo that is growing. This glycoprotein has 237 amino acids in a chain form.
In the past few years, HCG is getting popular in the bodybuilding and sports industry due to numerous lucrative reasons. The first and most important reason is that even when eating a low-calorie diet, a person can still carry out daily activities as if they were consuming a typical diet of at least 2000 calories.
HCG is an essential hormone because it mimics Luteinizing Hormone. Luteinizing Hormone stimulates the production and release of testosterone naturally in the human body. Due to the use of anabolic steroids, the testes stop the production of testosterone; there comes HCG. In this case, HCG assists in maintaining, increasing, and restoring natural testosterone production in the human body. HCG does serve a medicinal purpose for males, namely the treatment of hypogonadism or low testosterone.
Another important function of using HCG is that it also cures testes shrinkage – testicular atrophy. The use of steroids can result in low or even non-existent levels of natural testosterone that cause testicular atrophy. Injecting HCG during the steroid cycle can prevent and cure this condition.
HCG doesn’t affect estrogen levels in the body, so there is no risk of gynecomastia, infertility, or erectile function by the use of this compound.
i. Nolvadex Dosage and Cycle
Nolvadex is taken in a higher dose in the initial week; then the dose can be lowered in 2nd week and so on. Start with 100 mg per day if you suffer from a drastic testosterone drop; usually, 75 mg is a top-end dose, and 50 mg is advisable for a normal testosterone drop. In short, 50 mg to 100 mg is a high initial dose per day for the very 1st week. Then you may lower the dose to 25 mg in week 2. Consume Nolvadex for four weeks to observe lucrative changes, but you may continue for 5 weeks if desired changes are not observed. Even at levels of 20 mg, Nolvadex has been demonstrated to dramatically increase the availability of testosterone in the body. In the last week, that is, week 4, you can take 10 to 20 mg to maximize your natural production of hormones.
ii. Clomid Dosage and Cycle
The dosage pattern of Clomid is a bit different than that of Nolvadex. If the decrease in the concentration of testosterone in the body is moderate, then 50 mg of Clomid is enough to be consumed in week 1. But if there is a significant decrease in testosterone, then 100 mg per day is advisable. It is observed that few people divide their Clomid dose into 2 portions; they take one dose in the morning and another dose in the afternoon. The choice is actually up to the consumer, and while splitting the dosage could provide for an improved outcome overall, it also lessens the strength of each dose and makes it more likely that they will forget to take it. It is usually taken for 4 weeks and then the consumer will start to notice the effectiveness, and they will return to their normal routine. Cut the dose to half after two weeks, and then after four weeks, cut it in half again. Alternatively, patients may switch to a lower dosage of Nolvadex after the first four weeks, starting at around 25 mg per day. Four weeks of Clomid consumption is enough but on the other side, there are instances where people need to keep doing PCT for a full two months in order to properly recover their normal levels of production.
iii. DHEA – Dehydroepiandrosterone Dosage and Cycle
For oral DHEA supplements, there is no suggested dose. The following dosage pattern has been shown to be safe and tolerated by some studies:
- 20 mg to 50 mg daily is safe and enough for people over the age of 30.
- 12 weeks of DHEA consumption will come up with desirable results.
There are diversified dosage patterns for different needs. If you are consuming it for improved bone healing and bone mineral density, then 50 to 100 mg per day is the advisable dosage. Whereas, if one is taking it for erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, or menopause symptoms, then 25 mg to 50 mg per day is a sufficient shot.
iv. HCG Dosage and Cycle
Keep in mind that when HCG is used for recovery of natural testosterone production, it tends to follow a time frame similar to that of most PCTs since it is not intended to be administered at high dosages for extended periods of time. In any case, SERMs are frequently used with HCG in post-cycle therapy, and it is uncommon to utilize HCG alone.
HCG is administered through injection. A small packet of powdered form of HCG’s active ingredients is mixed with sterile water to form an injectable ingredient. The leftover mixture must be refrigerated for future use. Avoid storing this mixture at room temperature because it doesn't last long there.
Start injecting HCG after a 4-to-6-week period after the end of the steroid cycle, do not delay for more than 8 weeks. Timings depend upon the steroid you have used in your cycle. HCG is administered for 2 weeks only. Most of the time, bodybuilders start taking HCG together with steroids they are cycling. In that case, a dose of 500iu per day is appropriate. You can also take up to 2000iu per day in conjunction with your cycle, depending upon the strength of that particular steroid. In both ways, it will function in the same manner and help to maintain your gains from your cycle.
Controlling your hormones throughout or after your cycle is essential for preserving your gains, so whether you choose to take your HCG compound simultaneously with your steroids or for two weeks after, it can assist provide your body with the fuel it needs to keep you going.
For females, HCG is a lucrative compound to improve fertility. Besides that, it has no use for females who are using steroids.
Low and High Dose of HCG
You should only use HCG once every three to five days at most while utilizing it during a steroid cycle. Since HCG is an injectable, you won't need to add an additional injection to your steroid schedule as frequently, which will be a comfort. During the steroid cycle, a low dose of HCG that is 250iu is considered sufficient. Beyond this level, HCG doesn’t work at its best, so there is no use to increase the dosage or frequency of administration.
Many users will take HCG for two to three weeks at doses every three to four days, ranging from 1000 IU at the low end to 4000 IU at the high end. Medical professional recommends high doses for advanced users who have used HCG in the past and knows its function. After this brief HCG cycle, you can continue administering SERM for the rest of your PCT period.
In order to guarantee a proper healing process, the timing and length of the PCT are essential considerations. Inadequate recovery and potential negative consequences can occur from inappropriate timing, while improper length might cause a longer recovery time or a loss of muscle mass. The timings of initiating PCT should be customized to the half-life of the steroids consumed. If the users are consuming a couple of anabolic-androgenic steroids simultaneously, then PCT should be initiated after the last drug (with the long half-life) exits the body. For SARMs and prohormones, PCT should be initiated 1 day after the last dose.
Below is the chart which shows when to start PCT according to the specific steroid:
When to start after the last admission
6 to 8 hours
6 to 8 hours
8 to 10 hours
Post-cycle therapy is advisable for bodybuilders to stimulate natural hormone production and restore the body's regular balance after the completion of steroid cycles. It should be consumed for at least four weeks but could last up to six weeks, according to individual circumstances. The duration of PCT can depend upon cycle type, cycle length, and compound used. It sometimes also varies according to diverse factors, such as the intensity of hormonal suppression and the particular compounds consumed during the cycle. It is also essential to remember that the PCT should not be hurried since recuperation, and this component of your cycle should not be neglected.
Because women's endogenous testosterone levels are often lower, post-cycle treatment is sometimes viewed as unneeded for them. Just like men, women’s endogenous testosterone production can also shut down when they consume steroids because the body detects an excess of testosterone in their system. As per a few researches and experiences, testosterones are essential hormones for women as well. Since it directly affects their mental health, energy levels, mass of muscles, libido quality, and overall health.
One of the effective drugs used as a PCT among women is Nolvadex. The range of its dose can be 5 mg to 15 mg, which could be consumed for up to 4 weeks. Many female consumers provide positive feedback and reported that this medicine has a notable impact on their moods, and also it has sped up the recovery of their imbalanced hormones.
On the contrary, few women bear the consequences in the form of their more than 3 months delays in menstrual cycle return. Nevertheless, it has been observed that some women continue to wait 3+ months before their menstrual periods start up again.
HCG is not highly recommended PCT medicine for women because it increases the size of ovaries and also causes virilization - a condition in which a female develops characteristics associated with male hormones. Another drug, Clomid, is also not considered a very effective one as it increases the sensitivity of ovaries. So, considering all the research and experiences shared above, the most effective post-cycle therapy drug for women is DHEA of 50mg per day for 12 weeks.
The most effective way to find out of your body needs Post Cycle Therapy is to get your testosterone levels examined. Despite that, if you are not willing to visit a doctor to get it checked then you can also tell that you require PCT from the following symptoms mentioned below.
- Feeling lethargy
- Feeling aggression
- Frequent mood swings
- Feeling detached from everything
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Easily drained out during workout
- Feeling depressed
- Decreased libido
- Testicular shrinkage
These symptoms occur after the completion of the steroid cycle, which represents that your body needs Post Cycle Therapy. It is strongly advised to obtain the advice and help of your healthcare provider before beginning any supplement program. This article's content is not meant to be used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of any illness.
SARMs – Selective Androgen Receptor Modular are used to gain strength and muscle mass without some of the unwanted effects associated with steroids. By attaching to androgen receptors in the muscles and bones, SARMs function. As a result, there is an increase in bone density and muscle mass and strength. SARMS do not produce the same level of hormonal imbalance or other adverse effects as anabolic steroids since they specifically target receptors involved in the growth of muscular tissue. The SARM works like testosterone when it hits those receptors. Those tissues get the signals to grow and be strong, so they do. Because of this, testosterone levels might decrease after around fourth weeks. The negative effects of low testosterone begin to manifest even when your body seems to have enough testosterone and continues to build muscle.
According to a few researchers, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMS) also have properties that cause natural hormones to be suppressed. Thus, PCT after SARMS consumption is essential. However, the intensity of the reduction in testosterone level will analyze the PCT protocol required. Few SARMS can cause a significant reduction in endogenous testosterone as compared to steroids. However, as a general principle, if consumers take only one SARM and continue with a low to moderate dosage and cycle it for eight or less than eight weeks, then only a slight decline in testosterone level occurs. In such cases, 3 weeks of Nolvadex is enough to get the hormonal imbalance ho back to normal. It should be taken with a dosage pattern of:
- 30 mg per day for week 1
- 20 mg per day for week 2
- 10 mg per day for week 3
In another case of a high dose of SARMS consumption, 4 weeks of Nolvadex PCT is required. The dosage pattern should be:
- 40 mg per day for week 1 and week 2
- 20 mg per day for week 3 and week 4
Another PCT drug that can be helpful after the SARMS cycle is Rebirth PCT. This is because it has D-Aspartic acid, which is known to enhance testosterone levels up. It is a stronger drug than the other PCT components. Rebirth PCT also contains Diindolylmethane, which is a strong natural estrogen blocker. So, Rebirth PCT targets both angles.
In fewer cases, it is reported that people take SARMS along with several other compounds, and the cycle of stacking lasts up to 16 weeks. In that cases, a more intense PCT protocol should be followed with the drugs mentioned below:
- hCG 2000IU for 20 days
- Nolvadex 20 mg twice a day for 45 days
- Clomid 50 mg twice a day for 30 days
Below is the list of SARMS that do not work on androgen receptors at all:
- GW-501516 Cardarine (PPAR Delta activator)
- YK-11 Myostine (Myostatin blocker)
- MK-677 Ibutamoren (selective Ghrelin receptor stimulator)
- SR-9009 Stenabolic (Rev-ErbA activator)
There are several benefits of doing PCT after the steroid cycle completion. It increases testosterone production naturally, improves mental health, upgrades one’s well-being, it also boosts energy, assists in retaining lean muscle, increases fertility, enhances libido and erection quality, and also increases testicular size. Most importantly, PCT is an affordable option to restore hormones.
There are no such disadvantages reported about PCT drugs; however, for a few hypersensitive users, it may cause unfavorable consequences.
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