Before we start explaining what is PCT, we need to understand what it means in the first place. There are a lot of people who seem to ask
”What Does PCT Stand For?” And generally “What is a PCT?”
What is Post Cycle Therapy | What is PCT?
A PCT stands for Post Cycle Therapy and this is an extremely important protocol that should be implemented by everyone who is interfering with their natural production of hormones. Let’s explain the process and why a person requires a PCT at all.
When a person is using exogenous substances that are meant for increasing or for decreasing the production of organic materials (like for example steroids), then the human body is going to start various processes, which would help itself to adapt to the situation.
When a person is using anabolic steroids, prohormones or other compounds, for example, he is known to increase his testosterone levels. The anabolic steroids are known to be “synthetic testosterone” and when administered, the “synthetic” testosterone is replenishing the “naturally occurring” testosterone.
This is leading to a huge increase in this hormone and in order to prevent the overloading of that hormone, the body is reducing down the natural production of this masculine hormone and sometimes, it could reduce so much that it would lead to a complete shut down.
That’s often leading to huge health issues with a pretty dangerous outcome in case is not being treated properly and that’s because the user can’t use steroids forever taken in consideration that the more a person is using steroids, the worse and more side effects can become.
Other than that, is important to know that when the endogenous production of the testosterone is getting decreased, the levels of estrogen and progesterone are getting extremely high and that’s a problem because those are often called the “female” hormones that men normally are having 1:100 ratio in comparison to testosterone. If they are extremely high, that’s an extremely big problem.
- Generally, a decrease in testosterone in combination with an increase in the female hormones is leading to the exact opposite of what a bodybuilder is searching for: decrease in muscle mass, addition of fat layers, especially on waist, decrease in energy levels and motivation including many others. It could lead to various other negative symptoms, even to depression.
A person with such a bad hormone balance is going to have various negative symptoms both psychologically as well physically even including growing breasts “gynecomastia” known as men’s breasts.
Another important thing to take in consideration is the fact that since the production of testosterone is lowered, there are 2 other things that should be taken in consideration as they have an important role here: cortisol as well as a protein that is called Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG). So, let me explain what each of these things mean and what they do.
- Cortisol, except for the fact that it got nicknamed “the stress hormone” for some good reasons, is also a hormone that is working “the negative way” when talking about muscles. This is not problematic when there is enough testosterone because with enough T levels, the Cortisol is kept low, however, when the powerful masculine hormone is too low, then Cortisol is able to do whatever it can and usually that’s destroying the muscle tissues.
- On the other hand, we have the Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which is known to strongly bind to the testosterone and is going to keep its production low. When a steroid cycle comes to an end, the user is getting too much SHBG and this hormone is going to become a problem all until the normal testosterone production is going to come back to its previous normal state.
Part of the reason why steroids and most performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) were classified as “dangerous” is because in the past, bodybuilders were abusing the steroids and even when they were using them somehow “close” to normal use, they weren’t implementing a PCT protocol.
The bodybuilding industry came up with the concept of a Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) only in the late 1980s and nowadays, using steroids without a PCT can be dangerous. Once again, that’s all not a problem for as long as the individual is using steroids and therefore, his testosterone levels remain high.
But when the steroid cycle is ended and the individual doesn’t gets testosterone anymore from steroids and in the same time, his body stopped producing testosterone naturally – that’s becoming a big problem. This is the reason why is called a “post” cycle and is considered a “therapy”. Is something that works as a therapy for your body and is something that should be implemented “post cycle” – at the end of the steroid cycle. This is what would prevent the body from completely shutting down the testosterone and increasing the cortisol and SHBG as well as maintaining high testosterone levels artificially, until the body would start producing enough levels on its own.
Is known that the body is going to restore back its natural hormonal balance all by itself, however, when the body is let to heal all the damage done by anabolic steroids use by itself, this process is known to take months or maybe even years.
The time your body requires to fully recover back also depends on the steroid cycle because the harsher the steroid cycle was, the more time your body requires to recover. Other factors also come at play, but in the end, that’s anywhere between around 4 months up to a year or so in most cases.
However, by implementing a good Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) it would reduce the time span of the healing process to an average of about 6 weeks in most cases. Except for the fact that the healing time is going to be much lower, but is all going to be much safer too.
A Post Cycle Therapy protocol is known to bring the hormone production back to their normal state and keeping your healthier too because a PCT is going to make sure that your internal organs are kept healthy and in good shape.
In short, steroids make sure that you greatly enhance performance and physique, but PCT makes sure that you remain healthy. Because of the PCT protocol, the users of anabolic steroids are capable to keep the bad hormones such as cortisol at low levels, to restore back the natural production of testosterone, to keep you healthy, to keep you away from negative side effects and most importantly – to keep the muscles gained during the cycle.
Is a well known issue that a lot of people using steroids lose a good amount of muscle gained during the steroid cycle the following weeks after stopping the cycle. That’s happening because they do not implement a PCT plan which is leading to low testosterone levels. Without testosterone, the individual is losing muscles. A PCT protocol would prevent this from occurring.
How Long Is The PCT | When to Start Post Cycle Therapy
When talking about Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) protocols, some of the most commonly asked questions are “How long is the PCT?” as well as “When to start Post Cycle Therapy?”.
Well, a Post Cycle Therapy is required to be implemented every time when you interfere with the natural production of hormones and you need to start it when all the compounds that are interfering with the natural hormonal balance are flushed out of your system.
For this reason, you need to find out the half life of the products that you’re using. There are huge differences because while some steroids may offer half life of a few hours (usually oral steroids), there are other steroids that have a half life of many days (injectable steroids).
That’s why, a Post Cycle Therapy plan is started when all of the compounds (steroids or whatever others) are completely flushed out of your body. For example, if you use only an orally active steroid alone with short half life (like Dianabol), then the PCT is started pretty soon (almost the next day) when you stop the cycle.
Answering the next question “How long is the PCT?” then unfortunately, we cannot offer an exact answer and that’s because that’s individual for each person and each cycle.
Nonetheless, most commonly, a Post Cycle Therapy protocol lasts anywhere between 4 up to about 8 weeks. It depends on how long the cycle with the steroids was (or whatever other compound interfering with your hormones) as well as how harsh the cycle was. For example, some people may find that even 4 weeks is too much, but others may need to go as long as 8 weeks, but that’s rarely.
- In the end, rarely someone would need a PCT plan that’s longer than 4-6 weeks.
Why Do Some SARMs Need It?
SARMs stand for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators and they are also considered performance enhancing drugs which can greatly help enhance performance and physique. They are not as powerful as steroids are, but they are still interfering with your natural production of hormones. This is the reason why SARMs are considered a safer alternatives to steroids, but they are not as helpful and they still need PCT – for this reason lots of people go directly for anabolic steroids in order to get the maximum benefits.
SARMs work similarly to anabolic steroids, but they are less powerful, that’s why they offer less side effects but less benefits too. Anabolic steroids are offering negative side effects because they are having a strong effect on the body. SARMs were proving to increase testosterone levels too and that’s why they also can help to grow muscles, boost performance, enhance stamina and energy as well as reduce the recovery periods like steroids do, but anabolic steroids are much more powerful and since SARMs are having a much lower effect on the body, both the side effects as well as the benefits would be much lower too.
But SARMs don’t work the exact same way as steroids. That’s because the steroids are increasing the testosterone levels synthetically replacing them, but SARMs are only mimicking the effects of the male hormone and therefore, they are opening those “gates” for the body components that are required for the protein synthesis, for the muscle growth as well as reducing bone wasting.
- According to some people, there are some specific SARMs that do not require a Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) because they are not interfering with the endocrine system. To be honest, I wouldn’t risk. There’s a very low chance that using SARMs (whatever they are) – you won’t need a PCT.
They may not be as aggressive as steroids, but they still require a PCT. There are steroidal and non-steroidal SARMs, which are stimulating various cells, which is helping with bone enhancement, muscle building and general physique and performance enhancement.
Other than that, SARMs, in most cases, are used in combination and they are mostly used either 2 or even 3 SARMs together. Chances that you won’t need to recover back your natural hormone system from such a cycle are very low because SARMs still increase testosterone which leads to increase/ decrease in various other hormones.
That’s why, even if you use SARMs (or whatever other compounds known to interfere with your hormonal system) then is going to be very helpful and keep you safe to go through a PCT plan which would recover back the body’s hormone production levels to normal.
How Does PCT Work?
It was earlier mentioned the fact that a Post Cycle Therapy is extremely important for anyone who is interfering with their hormonal system. That’s why, any steroid user should think about a PCT plan even before starting to use the steroids. That’s all because the PCT protocol is helpful to restore back the body’s normal abilities to produce normal amounts of the most important hormones all on its own, would keep you safe and away from side effects and would reduce the time required for your body to fully recover from a cycle.
- When a cycle is ended, is crucial for the bodybuilders or any other steroid users to go through the PCT plan because their endogenous testosterone production is significantly decreased (or it might be completely shut down) after the synthetic substitute of the steroids has increased your T levels so much.
To get into more details, what is actually happening is that while using anabolic steroids, you are greatly changing the balance of your hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, the name of processes in between the interactions of the hypothalamus, of the pituitary gland as well as the adrenal (also known as suprarenal) glands.
The HPA axis is having various different homeostatic system throughout the entire body and plus to that, is regulating the reproductive system either and the testicles are also contained there, and in the end, the natural production of the highly required hormone – testosterone.
With this being mentioned, the PCT plan is going to stimulate the pituitary gland for producing more Luteinizing Hormone (LH) as well as more Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and when there is more LH and FSH produced, it would offer more production of testosterone by the testicles. In short, what PCT does – is to stimulate the production of testosterone maintaining them high.
Except for stimulating the body to produce more testosterone, a PCT plan is also going to inhibit and to decrease the amount of the estrogen, and this way men won’t be suffering from hypogonadism (small testicles), from infertility as well as estrogen related side effects such as gynecomastia, bloating and others.
Best Post Cycle Therapy | Post Cycle Therapy Supplements
According to numerous studies done on some products as well as a big number of people reports who already used various products for Post Cycle Therapy, the best products are SERMs, which stand for Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators. According to many people, using them is the best way to achieve the needed effects of a helpful PCT.
- As much as it looks like, the best Post Cycle Therapy protocol is implemented when you have SERMs like for example Clomid (Clomiphene Citrate) or Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate) as they seem to be the best and most well known compounds.
There are other SERM options like for example Raloxifene and Fareston including others, but Clomid and Nolvadex are heavily much popular than others.
It was mentioned that some other products that seem to be pretty helpful for a PCT plan include the Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) which are also Anti Estrogens (like SERMs) but they are very different in the mechanism of actions and it looks like SERMs are much helpful and much more popular for PCT than AIs while AIs seem to be helpful during the steroid cycle for offering estrogenic protection.
That’s because Aromatase Inhibitors, pretty much as their name suggests, they are inhibiting the aromatase enzyme. That’s the enzyme responsible for the conversion of androgen into estrogen (aromatization process).
So, AIs are helpful for estrogenic protection (SERMs only a little bit) and SERMs are helpful for Post Cycle Therapy claimed to be the best compounds for best Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) (AIs only a little bit).
Some option for Aromatase Inhibitors include:
- Aromasin (Exemestane)
- Arimidex (Anastrozole)
- Femara (Letrozole)
There are also Post Cycle Therapy Supplements which may be added to the PCT protocol but using PCT supplements after using steroids cycle is not going to be as effective. In fact, supplements may be added alongside with the PCT of your choice.
Remember that Post Cycle Therapy supplements cannot be used as substitution or replacement for actual PCT medications.
Most commonly people go for Clomid and Nolvadex as the best Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) medications.
Buy Nolvadex and/ or Clomid here.
They usually use some of these examples:
- Clomid 50 mg for first 2 weeks and 25 mg for last 2 weeks (4 weeks total)
- Nolvadex 40 mg for first 2 weeks and 20 mg for last 2 weeks (4 weeks total)
- Clomid 100 mg for first 2 weeks, 50 mg for 2 weeks and 25 mg for last 2 weeks (6 weeks total)
- Nolvadex 80 mg for first 2 weeks, 40 mg for 2 weeks and 20 mg for last 2 weeks (6 weeks total)
- Clomid 50 mg with Nolvadex 40 mg for first 2 weeks, Clomid 25 mg with Nolvadex 20 mg for last 2 weeks. (4 weeks total)
- Clomid 100 mg with Nolvadex 80 mg for first 2 weeks, Clomid 50 mg and Nolvadex 40 mg for 2 weeks and Clomid 25 mg with Nolvadex 20 mg for last 2 weeks (6 weeks total).
These are considered the best and most famous examples of PCT protocols. There are various others, but these seem to be most commonly used and most people seem to find them extremely helpful. As in terms of Post Cycle Therapy supplements, you can add them to any of these PCT cycle examples. Add any PCT supplements of your choice.
Which one to choose depends on a number of factors, the PCT protocols you notice there are increasing in severity (from the first one being the mildest with the last one being the harshest) and it depends on how harsh the steroid cycle was.
- If you had a 4 weeks with 30 mg of Anavar (Oxandrolone) alone cycle, then even the first PCT plan might be too much because this is a mild steroid, used alone in low dosage for a short time.
- But if you had a very long cycle with multiple powerful steroids such as 16 weeks cycle with high dosages of Trenbolone, Testosterone and Anadrol (Oxymetholone) / Deca (Nandrolone) you may require the last PCT protocol.
Use the PCT plan that suits up with your needs the most, you may add PCT supplements of your choice and another thing to add is that large dosages of vitamin D are helpful too. It comes from various products but even from natural sunlight. Make sure to have enough, as vitamin D is effective at boosting production of testosterone and inhibiting SHBG levels in the body.
SIDE NOTE! Another thing that should be mentioned here is the fact that Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is another substance that can be helpful when planning to go through a helpful Post Cycle Therapy (PCT).
The reason why is not as famous because is considered not as safe as SERMs and may not be as good.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is just a name for the synthetic LH, however, as it was earlier mentioned, LH is stimulating the creation of testosterone, and that’s a good thing.
The problem with HCG (its drawback) is the fact that is also promoting the aromatase activity in the testicles of a man and this is leading to a higher levels of estrogen in the body, but that’s the exact opposite of what men are searching for when going through the PCT – to reduce the female hormones.
This is the reason why HCG is not as famous as SERMs but there are still people who use them. Nonetheless, according to experts who already used them, HCG should always be taken alongside with Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) in order get the benefits and avoid side effects.