Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)
Post Cycle Therapy is a period that follows the use of anabolic steroids. It is also one of the most confusing topics due to misconceptions.
The Purpose of PCT
When supplementing with anabolic steroids our natural testosterone production is suppressed. Testosterone is the primary male hormone and it is essential to our very well being. Most men will always include at least a minimal amount of testosterone in their stack.
Testosterone is produced in the testicles. When supplementing with anabolic steroids the signal that tells the body to produce testosterone is reduced and therefore less testosterone is produced. When adding testosterone to the stack we’re providing our body with what it needs. But once the steroid use is finished, we have the issue of a suppressed signal. The purpose of PCT is to stimulate natural testosterone production.
The Suppression Myth
All anabolic steroids will suppress natural testosterone production. The rate of suppression is however dependent on the steroids. A single 100mg dose of Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone) for example will result in 100% suppression of natural production. Anavar (Oxandrolone) on the other hand will not result in full suppression. But even if a steroid does not cause full suppression, it will be enough to put your testosterone into a low-level state.
What to Expect from PCT
Most PCT plans will last 4-6 weeks. Many would expect everything to be back to normal after that, but PCT does not work this way.
A good PCT will help you protect and maintain some (but not all) of the progress you made. For this reason, some men would begin to consume extra calories to protect their gains. This can maintain the weight but it’s not always a good idea. If it’s not muscle tissue maintaining, it’s rather useless. It is not uncommon for some men to put on a good bit of body fat during PCT since they are desperate to hang onto gains. The purpose of PCT is to stimulate natural testosterone production. If some gains are lost, it’s not the end of the world.
When NOT to Run PCT
For a hard-core steroid user that is on cycle more than he’s off, running a PCT can be counterproductive. Completing a cycle, implementing PCT and starting a new cycle immediately can be a very harsh practice and terrible for your body. Welcome to a never-ending rollercoaster of hormone levels. One would be better off running a low dose of testosterone during his off time. But most men need to come off steroids and stay off after PCT is completed for a time.
If you are a low testosterone patient, you will also not run a PCT plan. You have no natural ability to produce enough testosterone on your own. If you implement a cycle, once it is over you should simply continue on with your previous Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
There are only two medications that should be primary used in PCT. They are Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and Clomiphene (Clomid). Both fall in the class of drugs, known as Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs). They stimulate the release of LH and FSH and therefore increase natural testosterone production.
HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadatropin) is also sometimes used in the PCT phase. Many men include low doses of HCG (normally 250-350 iu a couple times per week) in their steroid cycles. It mimics LH and keeps the testicles producing testosterone. But it doesn’t induce the production of actual LH. Including HCG in cycle is primarily for the post cycle recovery to be easier. It is also used to prevent or minimize testicular atrophy, that might occur due to the use of anabolic steroids. If HCG is used on cycle, there is no need to use it post cycle.
AI’s are also sometimes used during PCT due to their ability to stimulate LH and FSH. But they also lower estrogen levels. Part of the PCT plan reason is to allow the body to normalize and part of that is maintaining normal estrogen levels. Estrogen is important for muscle building, mental health, sexual health and numerous other areas.
When to Start PCT
Timing is a very important. If all the steroids used are short ester base, PCT should begin 3-4 days after the last injection. And if any large ester base steroids are added, you’ll want to wait at least 14 days before beginning PCT. It may not be a bad idea to wait a full 21 days before beginning PCT, if Nandrolone Decanoate was used.
If HCG is used in the PCT plan (generally not recommended if it was used on cycle) and if all short ester base steroids were used, HCG use will begin 3 days after your last injection and the treatment will last for 10 days. If any large ester base steroids were used, HCG should begin 10 days after your last injection. The treatment will again last for 10 days. In either case, the use of SERMs will immediately begin once HCG use is complete.
A solid PCT plan will generally include both SERMs, Nolvadex and Clomid. 4-6 weeks of treatment is normally sufficient. An example of a good plan to follow is specified below. That is 100mg of Clomid with 40mg of Nolvadex per day for two weeks. This is followed by 50mg of Clomid and 20mg of Nolvadex per day for two weeks. An additional two weeks of Nolvadex may be added if needed.
- Week 1-2: Clomid 100mg per day
- Week 1-2: Nolvadex 40mg per day
- Week 3-4: Clomid 50mg per day
- Week 3-4: Nolvadex 20mg per day
- (Optional) Week 5-6: Nolvadex 20mg per day
When to Start Your Next Cycle
The general rule to follow to remain healthy is: time on equals time off. If your cycle lasts for 10 weeks and your PCT plan is 4 weeks, you will have to wait for 14 weeks before starting a new cycle. Allow your body time to normalize.
It’s a good idea to get blood work done after PCT. That is just to see where your body is at after artificially stimulating natural testosterone production.
The Most Common Myth
It can take several months for the testosterone levels to recover. The common myth some believe is that the levels are up and is good to go once PCT is complete. True recovery is when your levels are stable without any type of supplementation.
If you’re going to supplement with anabolic steroids, risks exist. There is a chance of permanently lowering your natural testosterone production and you would need TRT forever. The point of PCT is to minimize this risk. If this is something you can’t accept then anabolic steroid use is just not for you.