Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) Groups
When you’re fully focused on planning your steroid cycle, your workouts and your nutrition, it’s all too easy to give little thought it what could essentially be the most critical aspect of your steroid use: post cycle therapy (PCT).
This guide covers everything you need to know about PCT and how to incorporate it into your routines. Treating PCT as high a priority as every other aspect of your bodybuilding program will not only enhance your results, but also protect your health.
What is Post Cycle Therapy?
Taking an anabolic androgenic steroid cycle completely changes the functioning of your natural hormone system. You might stop producing natural testosterone altogether. One of the big goals of PCT is to get your hormone balance back on track.
Post cycle therapy is a critical action to take and one that deserves just as much thought and planning as your steroid cycle itself. It involves taking several prescription medications that may or may not be easily available to you, while also requiring you to understand how they all work together and what is the best combination, dosage and length of time to run your PCT protocol.
Why do you need PCT? The importance of PCT
PCT is essential and you need to do it because your body’s normal production of testosterone has been interrupted.
Depending on which steroids you’ve been using, how long your cycle was, and other individual factors, your natural testosterone production could be very low to non-existent following a steroid cycle. So getting your test back on track is a critical reason for undertaking PCT.
Just as importantly is the fact that once you stop using steroids at the end of a cycle it stops the anabolic state your body is in, which can lead to difficulty in maintaining the gains you’ve worked so hard to make. So the importance of doing PCT is centered on:
- Restoring natural testosterone production
- Maintaining muscle gains
- Getting your body’s natural systems back on track after steroid use
PCT can be thought of as a post-cycle detox. You are essentially going to be telling your body to work properly again without the influence of steroids in your system. The ultimate goal is to be able to come out of your steroid cycle while maintaining as much of your muscle gains as possible, and a fully functioning, normal hormonal system.
The Three Primary Testosterone Stimulating Agents for HPTA Recovery During PCT
- SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptive Modulators)
SERMs are designed to block the effects of estrogen. But as the term “selective” in the name implies, SERMs don’t provide a complete mitigation against estrogen. Instead, while the effects of estrogen might blocked in some areas, in other areas of the body it can actually bring about an increase in estrogen effects.
This means there’s a balance between the potential positive and negative impact of SERMs which makes it clear that it, like any class of drugs, is not a cure all for your estrogenic side effects post-cycle. However SERMs are considered to be a popular option in PCT and still provide satisfactory results for bodybuilders when they are used correctly.
As SERMs are often used as a breast cancer drug for women, they act as an estrogen antagonist on breast tissue and so are useful for mitigating the effects of one of the most dreaded and distressing side effects of using anabolic steroids in gynecomastia (gyno).
There are different types of SERMs that each come with their pros and cons. When it comes to using SERMS in PCT, Tamoxifen Citrate (under the Signature brand Zitafen) and Clomiphene Citrate (under the Signature brand Clomirate) are the two names you will most commonly come across. Clomirate is considered the more powerful of the two, but with that comes a higher risk of more serious side effects.
While SERMs are a critical aspect of a PCT protocol no matter which steroids you’ve been using, they should not make up the entire post cycle therapy protocol due to their mixed effects on estrogen.
Benefits of SERMs:
- Stimulates the production of testosterone
- Blocks the effects of estrogen
- Helps restore the body’s natural hormone function
- May help keep cholesterol low
Side Effects of SERMs:
By acting as an estrogen agonist in some areas, rather than an antagonist, estrogen’s effects may be enhanced. However it is disturbances of the vision that is possibly the most worrying side effects when it comes to some SERMs. Clomirate in particular presents a risk of this potentially serious health problem as it is one of the more powerful SERMs available.
- Aromatase Inhibitors (AI)
Like SERMs, aromatase inhibitor drugs also mitigate the effects of estrogen when levels rise too much as a result of bring converted from the higher testosterone levels present from steroid use.
However unlike SERMs which work to block estrogen in the tissue cells, AI’s reduce the amount of estrogen that is circulating in the body by inhibiting the conversion of androgens into estrogen which ultimately results in higher estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels.
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) include:
- Anastrozole (under the Signature brand Artmizol)
- Letrozole (under the Signature brand Femozole)
Benefits of Aromatase Inhibitors:
- Blocks the enzyme aromatase to stop androgen converting to estrogen
- Brings about an increase in testosterone by lowering estrogen
- Prevent or reduce Gynecomastia
- Also mitigates estrogenic effects of HCG
Side Effects of Aromatase Inhibitors:
- Possible hair loss
- Hot flashes
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Abnormal heart beat
- Joint and muscle pain
The purpose of using aromatase inhibitors as part of your PCT protocol is to prevent that cycle occurring, reversing it, and bringing about an increase in the production of testosterone. AIs are also important for PCT when you’re including Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) in your PCT protocol, since aromatase inhibitors are needed to moderate the estrogenic effects in HCGs.
- HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin)
HCG (under the Signature brand Signagil 2000 IU and 5000 IU) is a hormone that can help reverse or prevent some of the more serious side effects we see with steroid use like shrinking of the testicles and the potential infertility that comes along with reduced sperm production. Medically it is used by men who have low testosterone and infertility.
Benefits of HCG:
- Restores and increases natural production of testosterone
- Returns testicles to normal size and function
- Increases sperm production
- Prevents breakdown of the muscle tissue you’ve gained
Side Effects of HCG:
- Leg, feet and hand swelling
- Prolonged use can inhibit sperm and testosterone production
In a PCT protocol, HCG should be used with aromatase inhibitor and also a SERM. Not only is there no use or benefit in using HCG alone in your post cycle therapy, but doing so will bring about a reduction in leutinizing hormone. Instead, always use HCG with an aromatase inhibitor and a SERM to counter the effect of a rise in estrogen levels caused by HCG’s impact of increasing aromatase activity in testicles.