Hormones play a vital role in the human body as a whole. They tell our bodies when to grow and help us reach sexual maturity to reproduce. Steroids are hormone derivatives, and they often lead to some hormonal imbalances in the body. Here, you can learn about steroids, how they can cause gynecomastia (gyno) without the right precautions, and the gyno surgery required in extreme cases.
Anabolic Steroids and Estrogen Conversion
One of the primary things to keep in mind when it comes to anabolic steroids is the fact that the vast majority of them convert to estrogen in your body via an enzyme known as aromatase. The male body already produces some estrogen naturally, and it plays a vital role in assuring the proper function of many bodily systems. However, too much estrogen can cause adverse effects. Namely, high levels of estrogen in men may cause significant mood swings, a complete loss of libido, and the development of female physical characteristics. If you do not take the right precautions during AAS use, these things can – and almost certainly will – occur.
A woman’s body looks the way it does thanks to estrogen. Estrogen is a sex hormone that helps to prime the female body for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. In men, estrogen helps maintain bone density, promotes brain function, wards off erectile dysfunction, and assists in the development of good cholesterol, but only when just the right amount of estrogen exists. People who use anabolic steroids without combatting aromatization have far too much estrogen in their bodies, and this can lead to some profound effects, like gynecomastia, or the development of breast tissue. Gynecomastia occurs when the male body becomes “confused” and primes itself for childbirth due to estrogen abundance.
Preventing Gynecomastia Before it Begins
Steroids and gynecomastia go hand-in-hand, but the good news is that you can prevent gyno during and after your steroid cycles. If the steroid you use converts to estrogen, all you need is an aromatase inhibitor such as Arimidex during your cycle to prevent it. These essentially block aromatase (the enzyme needed to create the estrogen) and prevent gyno. After your cycle, you need to get your testosterone levels back to normal as quickly as possible to prevent estrogen buildup. A SERM, or Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator, like Clomid or Nolvadex triggers the production of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone, both of which help boost testosterone production back to normal.
The chart below shows a list of the most popular anabolic steroids and whether they convert to estrogen. The only situation in which you will not need to use an AI is when you are using a non-aromatizing steroid by itself, without any kind of stack. Even testosterone will aromatize, so you need to be aware of this. If you use testosterone, even with a steroid that does not aromatize, you will need to use an aromatase inhibitor. Some steroids convert to estrogen far more readily than others, too. If you are particularly sensitive to the effects of estrogen, you might want to consider using a steroid that aromatizes only slightly – or one that will not aromatize at all.
Anabolic Steroid Does it Aromatize?
*Anadrol itself does not aromatize, but it does have certain properties that can interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize estrogen properly. As such, it is recommended to use an AI during an Anadrol cycle.
Using PCT to Avoid Gyno Surgery
Now that you understand the importance of using an aromatase inhibitor with certain steroids, it’s also vital to understand how PCT can help you avoid the need for gynecomastia surgery. Even if your steroid of choice will not aromatize, it will suppress your body’s ability to produce testosterone. Then, at the end of your cycle, your body produces far more estrogen than testosterone. Hormone receptors will fill with estrogen as a result, and side effects – including gynecomastia – may occur. Though you may not need to use an AI on-cycle if you are using a Winstrol-only or Trenbolone-only cycle, you absolutely will need PCT. Selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs, are required. Clomid and Nolvadex are both relatively easy to find, and they block much of the estrogen in your body from binding to its receptors. At the same time, these drugs help to kickstart your body’s ability to produce testosterone, which can help you avoid symptoms of low-T and facilitate muscle maintenance.
When Gynecomastia Occurs
In cases where gynecomastia develops, it is possible to use an aromatase inhibitor called Letrozole to reverse it – but only in the very early stages. Once breast tissue fully develops, the only way to remove it is with gyno surgery. Sometimes, when the breast tissue is comprised mainly of fat, a common liposuction procedure will remove the tissue. In other cases, when the tissue is glandular in nature, the surgeon may need to go in and excise the tissue.
These procedures are often followed by a removal of excess skin, particularly in older men or in cases when the gyno was especially severe. Men often have questions about gyno surgery, too. These frequently asked questions will provide you with a host of knowledge that can make your experience less stressful.
- What happens during gyno surgery? This depends on the procedure your surgeon chooses to use for gyno surgery, and the procedure is dependent upon the severity of the condition. Liposuction gyno surgery is ideal for slight cases; a full-fledged breast reduction may be necessary for more advanced cases. Surgeries last anywhere from an hour to several hours, and they are performed in an operating room while you are under general anesthesia.
- How much is gyno surgery? The gyno surgery price varies based on the severity of your condition, the physician you choose, and even the procedure itself. Per information from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost is a little over $3300. Simple liposuction procedures cost less; more extensive breast reductions cost more.
- What is gyno surgery recovery like? How long until you can go back to your normal activity? Gyno surgery recovery varies based on several unique factors. In most cases, bruising and swelling is present for two weeks, most of the healing takes place in about six weeks, and athletes can return to their normal activity anywhere between four and eight weeks, depending on their personal progress. It can take well over a year to heal completely, so keep this in mind.
- What do gyno surgery scars look like? For liposuction procedures, scarring is minimal. After you have healed completely, the scar will be a faint white line. For breast reduction, the scarring may be slightly more noticeable, and surgeons try to place these along the nipple to reduce their appearance.
Gyno is an embarrassing problem for many men, and the surgery needed to correct it is not only painful, but invasive. Fortunately, with the right precautions, you can safely use anabolic steroids without developing gynecomastia and subjecting yourself to gyno surgery down the road.