People who are new to anabolic steroids for performance enhancement often (mistakenly) believe that they can take a product for a few weeks, get buff or toned, and then simply stop.
This is not the case. No matter what steroid you use, post cycle therapy is a necessity. Here is everything you need to know about PCT and how to implement it after your cycle.
Why You Need PCT in the First Place
Misguided and novice athletes who use steroids often think, “I finished my cycle and I’m buff, so now I’m finished.” This is a huge mistake. You can spend your entire cycle taking AIs to ward off gynecomastia and other side effects, but if you simply stop taking your steroid and do not follow it with PCT, all of those efforts are in vain.
Almost every popular anabolic steroid is a derivative of testosterone, and while this has some pretty significant benefits in terms of bulking and cutting, it can throw off your body’s natural hormonal balance by inhibiting your natural testosterone production.
Inhibited Testosterone Production
Numerous studies show that it only takes about 21 days for your body to stop producing testosterone once you start introducing exogenous testosterone or anabolic steroids.
Since most cycles last far longer than three weeks, there will come a point when you completely suppress your body’s ability to make testosterone.
This is usually not a problem during your cycle since you replace that testosterone with a steroid (or synthetic testosterone), but once you stop, it can take a long time for your natural production to get back to normal. In fact, some studies suggest that it may take up to a year for your body to start producing testosterone at the right levels.
What the Lack of Testosterone does to Your Body
If you just stop your cycle and forego PCT, you will begin to notice the side effects almost as soon as the steroid exits your body completely. Remember that as the testosterone levels plummet, your body will naturally begin to absorb more of the estrogen it produces, leading to estrogenic side effects that you likely tried very hard to avoid during your cycle. AIs can certainly go a long way, but if you don’t implement and execute post cycle therapy, you will undo all this hard work.
How Post Cycle Therapy Works
The two most popular compounds for PCT are SERMs, or Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators. These compounds not only help regulate the way estrogen in your body works, but they also stimulate the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), both of which tell your testicles to make more testosterone.
The two that bodybuilders and athletes recommend are Clomid and Nolvadex, but others certainly exist. Plan to start your PCT at the time when the steroid exits your system and take it for a period of about 30 days. The daily dose for Clomid is about 150 mg per day, and the dose for Nolvadex is 40mg a day to start. The chart below shows an average PCT cycle as reference, but remember you should not use Clomid and Nolvadex at the same time. Choose one or the other.
|Weeks||Nolvadex Daily Dose||Clomid Daily Dose|
PCT and Non-Aromatizing Steroids
Some people believe that if they are using a steroid that does not aromatize, and they are not stacking it with any other steroids, there is no need for them to complete PCT. This is simply not the case. Even steroids that do not aromatize at all will still suppress your body’s ability to make testosterone, and this can spell disaster once your cycle ends.
You will need PCT after every single cycle with one major exception: if you plan to start another cycle shortly after your first cycle ends, PCT might not be necessary at all. That’s because there is no need to boost your body’s testosterone production if you’re just going to shut it down again.
Adding HGH or hCG for the Best Post Cycle Therapy?
Some men believe that they can only achieve the best PCT results by using HGH or hCG after their cycles have ended. There is some evidence to suggest that using one of these two compounds may help you retain more of your gains with time, but this is minimal.
If you want to use HGH, you should also use it during your cycle. Remember it takes about 12 weeks at a minimum to realize any real effects, so using it for four to six weeks at the end of your cycle isn’t likely to do much for you.
hCG, on the other hand, can be used over the short-term, and it can be beneficial when used only for a period of a few days. If you choose to use hCG to help you maintain your gains, you should use it for 10 days before you start your therapy with SERMs. The interaction between the two may negate their benefits, and this makes it wasteful. After finishing the 10 days of hCG, simply move on to your SERM and use it according to the chart shown above.
The Best Post Cycle Therapy for Women
With all the important information about post cycle therapy supplements, women often wonder what they need to do to protect themselves when their cycles have come to an end.
Simply put, women don’t depend as much on their testosterone production, and this means that their bodies won’t go into a state of shock due to the lack thereof.
Nonetheless, plenty of women may experience side effects at the end of their cycles, and these may include things like acne, bloating, moodiness, and hot flashes.
To avoid these, women do not need post cycle therapy; they only need to slowly reduce the dose of their steroids over the last week or so of their cycles to ease the hormonal transition. For example, a woman using Anavar may choose to reduce her dose by 2.5mg a day over the course of the last week to lessen the hormonal side effects that may occur. Not all women experience these effects, even if they suddenly stop an 8 week cycle without bothering to taper their doses.
There are other compounds out there that some athletes incorporate into their post cycle therapy, and these include HGH and hCG. Not every athlete needs these, and only experienced steroid users should consider them. For the most part, a perfectly-timed and dosed SERM will provide you with all of the PCT you need.