PTC stands for post-cycle therapy, which is a procedure that should be employed after a steroid cycle. If you plan to take PEDs such as prohormones, SARMs, or steroids, it’s imperative you consider which PTC procedure you would prefer.
It can be easy for some guys to gorget about this part, but you must always remember that a cycle can shut down your body’s natural production of testosterone, resulting in an abnormally high spike in estrogen levels. I probably don’t have to tell you the biggest issue that results from this: Gynocemastia.
In simple terms, the intake of PEDs replaces your natural hormones with synthetic ones.
During the course of the cycle, natural production remains inactive, and once it’s over, you will need to reboot natural hormones production. Enter Post-cycle therapy. PCT increases the hormones to get them up to where they used to be.
The PTC practice is also critical in ensuring you maintain the gains you made after a PED phase. Remember you need steady testosterone levels to support strength, weight, mood, and even sex drive or libido.
If your levels are unstable, you’ll likely notice a decrease in all these processes. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I’ve detailed the absolute best way to go through post-cycle therapy.
Max’s Note: The article you are about to read, is based on my own personal experience, it does NOT promote any illegal use of anabolic steroids (Performance Enhancing Drugs).
There 3 main objectives we’re trying to accomplish with a PCT protocol:
- Maintaining muscle gains
- Restoring your natural testosterone production
- Re-alinling body’s systems back to natural order after the cycle
It’s essentially a detox period, whereby we allow our body to re-center to its natural state.
Max’s Note: For a real, NO-BS info-packed guide on cycling steroids, then grab your digital E-Book copy of ”Straight From The Underground” by John Doe Bodybuilding. This is my #1 recommended underground handbook on EVERYTHING related to steroids. Everything in this book is based on real first-hand experience as opposed
the 3 main Post Cycle Therapy Protocols:
There are different kinds of products that can be used as therapy after a steroid cycle. If you’re wondering what kind of supplements you’re going to need, worry no more.
Here are the most commonly used options and the best approaches to take (for each one).
The 3 main types of PCT are:
1. Aromatase Inhibitors (AI)
1) AROMATAMSE INHIBITORS (AI’S)
AI’s are great at regulating the higher than average levels of estrogen following a cycle.
The most common AI’s are:
AI’s minimize the amount of estrogen circulating by stopping the conversion of androgens into estrogen. The conversion of androgens to estrogens is what lowers testosterone, and raises estrogen in the first place. So AI’s interrupt this process.
The 4 top pros to using AI’s are:
- Prevent or minimizing Gynecomastia
- Regulate the estrogenic effects of HCG
- Increase testosterone by lowering estrogen
- Block the enzyme aromatase and stoping the conversion of androgen to estrogen
The top (potential) cons to AI’s are:
- Hot flashes,
- Potential hair loss,
- Abnormal heart beat,
- Joint and muscle pain.
- Increased risk of blood clots
If you’re using HCG (we’ll cover this in a minute), then using AI’s is important because it regulates HCG’s estrogenic effects.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators or SERMS are compounds that are responsible for the regulation of estrogen production. When applied as therapy after a cycle, they focus on bringing hormones back in balance.
SERMs cannot be bought over the counter without a prescription. The prescription-only SERMs are Clomid and Nolvadex.
They are mainly used for the extreme steroid cycles where the hormones become so suppressed that over-the-counter products cannot work.
There are different kinds of SERMS, with accompanying pros and cons. The 3 most common are:
Clomid is considered the strongest among these, and therefore comes with more side effects.
SERMS function to block estrogen in your body, however they only selectively do so (hence the name ”Selective” Estrogen Receptor Modulators). The areas that aren’t blocked can actually have the opposite effect: an increase in estrogen.
So one must weigh the balance the pros and cons that come with taking SERMS. As history indicates, most bodybuilders consider the risks worth it, due to the popular history of SERMS as PCT protocol.
Due to the effectiveness SERMS have towards combating estrogen antagonists, they are often used to treat women with breast cancer (and men who’re trying to stave off gynecomastia).
Pros Of SERMS:
- Block the effects of estrogen
- Can help keep cholesterol levels down
- Stimulate the testosterone production
- Considered the best option for more extreme steroid cycles
- Help naturally restore the functionality of your body’s hormones
Cons of serms:
- The most dangerous side effect of SERMS is the potential for them to interfere with eye vision. The one most commonly linked to issues with this is the strongest one (Clomid). Great care should be taken to dosing SERMS correctly.
3) HCG for PCT:
Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) is a peptide hormone that’s used to restore fertility in men during or following a cycle.
Testosterone, when used over a period of several weeks/months, can make a man infertile, by lowering sperm count.
HCG is often prescribed (usually for men on TRT) to help restore sperm count levels.
other pros of HCG:
- Returns your testicles to normal size & function
- Prevents breakdown of the muscle tissue gains
- Restores & increases production of natural testosterone
Potential cons (negative effects) of hcg:
- Leg, feet and hand swelling
- Prolonged use can inhibit sperm and testosterone production.
HCG was once commonly used during post-cycle therapy after a cycle, with the expectation that it would aid in testosterone restoration. However, its mechanism of action flawed this theory.
The drug stimulates this hormone’s production in the testes, which can be great in avoiding testicular atrophy. However, it does not aid the recovery process in post-cycle therapy.
This is because it brings about heightened estrogen levels from the greater aromatization of testosterone in the testes, causing a greater HPTA inhibition. This is where the use of an AI comes in as mentioned above.
Using HCG alone is not a good idea, as it will reduce your luteinizing hormone, so always remember to pair it with at least an AI (ideally an AI and a SERM).
4) Post-Cycle Therapy Supplements
Post-cycle therapy supplements contain a compelling blend of ingredients that help maximize testosterone and block estrogen production.
PROS of pct supplements:
- They are available online.
- They are a good option for mild cycles, like SARMs, or prohormones for example.
- Help with preserving strength, gains, and the progress made during the cycle.
- The products are available over the counter even without a prescription, unlike the SERMs
However, you need to be careful while these supplements and just not to pick the first one you come across. There is a massive difference in these products effectiveness, and quality.
SERMS AS A PCT (A DEEPER LOOK):
Primary used to help women with infertility, Clomid does this by increasing the luteinizing hormone (LH) through stimulation of the pituitary gland. In men, it increases the follicle hormone, which kickstarts testosterone production again in men (what it’s most commonly used for).
The pros of using Clomid for PCT are:
- Can block estrogen
- Considered stronger than Nolvadex
- Stimulates your natural testosterone production
- Positive impact on cholesterol levels through your liver
The most serious potential side effect of Clomid is eye vision problems (floaters, blurriness, light sensitivity) as well as mood swings. Longer-term and/or heavier use of Clomid could mean these effects are irreversble. Most are reversible as long as you don’t overdo your usage of it. The more serious ones even include Cataracts, build-up of fluid in the macula, and loss of vision!
Again, don’t overuse Clomid and you’ll be fine. For longer ester Testosterones, it’s recommended that Clomid be started 10-14 days after your cycle. For shorter esters (Test Propionate), you should start it sooner (5-7 days after).
Taking about 40-50 mgs. a day for 2-4 weeks is an example of a common Clomid intake period. For more information on Clomid specifically, I wrote an article on it right here.
NOLVADEX AS A PCT
Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) acts in stopping estrogen from binding to your receptors, namely in the breast tissue. It’s used to treat breast cancer, which was what it was developed for.
This being said, its easy to see why many men use it to prevent gynocemastia formation
- Helps prevent gynecomastia
- Helps keep estrogen at low levels
- Restores natural hormonal function
- Lower risk of side effects compared to Clomid
- Provides both anti-estrogenic and pro-testosterone
- Can maintain low cholesterol due to estrogenic agonistic effects on the liver
Potential negative effects include hot flashes, reduction in IGF-1 levels, digestive issues, headache, thinning of hair and possible libido loss.
Nolvadex is usually started 2 weeks after a steroid cycle. Many will also take it during the actual cycle as well as they want estrogen from binding during their testosterone doses. They just stay on it for several weeks after as well. 4 weeks on Nolvadex is most common, but sometimes 3 weeks is adequate as well.
Dosing Nolvadex correctly (as with all forms of PCT) is what will ensure the least number of adverse side effects, as well as the desired result you’re looking for from it. This said, there are several different protocols you could follow.
Here are 2 examples:
4 Week Nolvadex Cycle:
Week 1: 40 mgs./day
Week’s 2-3: 20 mgs./day
Week 4: 10 mgs./day
3 Week Nolvadex Cycle:
Day 1: 100 mgs./day
Day’s 2-11: 60 mgs. day
Days 12-21: 40 mgs/day
I wrote a specific article covering the ins and outs of Nolvadex right here.
clomid vs. nolvadex (which one is best for pct?)
Nolvadex tends to be preferred when prioritizing the avoidance of side effects. Since Clomid is stronger, it presents a higher risk of negative effects as mentioned, the main one being vision problems. If someone is however more concerned about using the strongest PCT possible, then Clomid would win out in that regard.
There are those that combine the two of them, but that just increases the likelihood of side effects. It’s generally advised to pick one based on the gear cycle you’re coming off of. For longer cycles, cycles where you’re on something stronger, or cycles where you’re stacking different compounds, then Clomid is the better option.
For more modest cycles, most will choose Nolvadex.
aromatase inhibitors as pct (a deeper look):
AI’s are effective towards preventing the formation of estrogen. This includes estrogen that’s lower circulating. Its not uncommon for people to take AI’s during their cycle, and just stay on it afterwards.
This is used to fight breast cancer, and just like Nolvadex, bodybuilders use it to combat rising estrogen levels resulting from cycles.
Arimidex pros (benefits):
- Reduces acne risk
- Helps prevent Gyno
- Lowers blood pressure
- Restores testosterone
- Prevents water retention
- Stops more estrogen forming
- Lowers existing estrogen levels
As with everything, they’re a few negative effects too. One being that Arimidex should not be combined with Nolvadex, as using them together renders Arimidex ineffective.
Other Arimidex cons include:
- It’s hard on your joints
This is another one bodybuilders will often take both during and after their cycles, as this prevents estrogen formation the whole time.
The most common dosage looks something like .5 mg to 1 mg. a day. For shorter cycles (or more mild ones), then often it’s used every 2-3 days at .5 mgs./dose. I wrote an article covering Arimidex right here.
Aromasin is used for reducing gynecomastia and water retention, which are the result of raised estrogen levels. Like the others mentioned, it’s also used to fight breast cancer.
The biggest benefit of Aromasin is that it’s not as harsh on your cholesterol. The other two big ones being its ability to reduce estrogen levels, thus allowing your normal testosterone levels to rise, and aiding in avoiding gynecomastia.
- Bone and joint pain
- Reduced bone density
- Hot flashes and headache.
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased anxiety and depression
- Hair loss from conversion of testosterone to DHT
Aromasin is also often used both during AND after cycles for keeping estrogen continually down. Anywhere from 10 mgs. to 25 mgs. a day is what is commonly taken. I wrote am an article covering Aromasin right here.
Arimistane is yet another compound that stops testosterone from converting into estrogen. This is used during and after a cycle to stop estrogenic effects. There are both positive and negative effects here too.
The positive effects are:
- Used to prevent gyno
- Helps retain your gains
- Positive effect on cortisol
- Increases testosterone normal levels
- Brings about a fast decrease in estrogen
- Reduces estrogen over the short and long term
- Has less negative impact on cholesterol compared with other AIs
The negative effects are that it harsh on your liver (when taken at higher dosages). The most common daily dosage for Arimistance is 25mgs to 75 mgs./day. Its advised to start at a lower dose if you’re a beginner and increasing it as necessary.
HCG AS A PCT (A DEEPER LOOK):
HCG is medically prescribed to re-ignite testosterone production in the testicles. Anabolic steroid cycles often result in the testes no longer producing it’s own testosterone.
HCG, just like the Luteinizing Hormone, serves to re-ignite sperm count and testosterone levels in the testes. HCG is widely regarded as effective and fast in restoring both of these in this process. The result of this is testicles returning to their pre-cycle (normal) size within only a matter of weeks.
4-6 weeks is how long men typically run HCG for. It should be noted that HCG can increase the risk of gynecomastia, therefore it’s advised you take it with an Aromatase Inhibitor (AI).
Over a 2 week period, 5,000 total IU’s is a good amount to aim for (so 2,500 IU’s/week). This will get Leutnizing Hormones back to normal levels swiftly. Here is a little more information on HCG.
HCG VS. AI VS. SERMS (FOR PCT)
HCG again will increases estrogen, so it should always be combined with an AI. If a SERM is also added, it can cause some complications.
For example, it’s been shown that combining Nolvadex and Arimidex when taken together can offset each other. This of course could render them ineffective at best, and useless at worst.
If HCG is combined with Nolvadex and Aromasin, for example, these have been shown to have no negative correlation to each other. The real problem is that not all desired compound are always available.
Sometimes one is restricted in what they’re able to obtain for their PCT. This could potentially leave you stuck with a combination that isn’t ideal, even one that could have the ”offsetting” effect I described.
To manage the increased aromatase activity HCG will cause, Aromasin is a very effective option for pairing with HCG for PCT. The recommended daily dosage being 25mg while HCG is being taken. You’ll want to stop both of these at the same time.
This is sometimes followed up with 4-6 weeks of Nolvadex at 20-40mgs. a day, for stimulating natural testosterone production.
what is the best Post Cycle Therapy Protocol To Use?
There are many opinions on this, and the best answer is dependent on factors such as type of steroid taken, strength of the dosage, cycle length, and which PCT compound you have access to. To help answer this question more definitively beyond that, it could generally look something like this:
- 2 weeks: Aromasin – 20-30 mgs. daily, Nolvadex – 35-45 mgs. daily, and HCG – 1000IU/E2D
- Week 3 (for 2-4 weeks:) Nolvadex – 15-25 mgs. daily
This would give you a 4-6 post cycle therapy. The faster you recover, the shorter it can be.
Do I Need a PCT After Using SARMs?
SARMS won’t cause your body to convert testosterone to estrogen like most steroids will, they can still suppress your body’s production of testosterone to a certain extent. The effect they can have can range from hardly anything (very mild) to extreme (a total shutdown).
An interruption of your regular hormone function will still occur, which can cause a rise in estrogen. Depending on your body’s response to this, it can still result in possible gynecomastia just like with steroids. With SARMS this can occur after your cycle.
The normal estrogen levels won’t rise with the SARMS due to aromatization, however the levels can and sometimes do rise from the hormone function interruption I mentioned.
In the past men have reported to take an AI while on their SARMS cycle, but this is not ideal as it will drop your estrogens levels to nothing. No estrogen at all is not good either, as men still need at least little estrogen in their system.
This being said, AI’s are too powerful to use during SARMS cycles, a better choice if rising estrogen is something you’re concerned about is a milder substance like ”Arimistane”
So yes, your testosterone WILL be lower than normal at the end of your SARMS cycle. For proper administration of something like Arimistane (as a SARMS PCT), its adivsed to take it starting the day after a SARMS cycle ends. Unlike steroids, where you’d normally wait 10-14 days before starting your PCT, with SARMS you’d want to start it sooner due to its short half life.
Though I’d say Clomid is very powerful as a SARMS PCT, there are men that have used it as well as Nolvadex for SARMS (PCT). Sometimes they’re even combined together. One example of dosing this combo would be: 20mgs.-50mgs. a day (of each) over a 1 month (28-30 period). A higher dosage would be appropriate only for stronger SARMS (RAD-140).
post cycle therapy FAQ’s:
What does post-cycle therapy do?
Post-cycle therapy helps to recover natural testosterone production after the synthetic version of the hormone is injected into the body. Natural testosterone production shuts it down, therefore PCT is crucial for kickstarting your body into producing it again. Its the message to your body that its no longer coming in synthetically.
PCT is also important towards allowing you to hold onto your muscle gains. Obviously the loss of testosterone, both from your injections as well as from your body’s natural production, will cause a hike in estrogen. PCT combats this process.
When should I begin PCT?
Just as the name suggests, begin the procedure after your cycle (usually about 10-14 days). Any variance will always be dependent on what you took (the strength of it) and how long you took it for. The ester matters of course, with shorter esters like Test Propionate, you’ll want to start the PCT sooner (2-4 days).
For the SARMs and prohormones, you can start taking your PCT a day after your last dosage.
The difference in timing has to do with how long they take to leave your system. Long esters take longer to leave the body, short esters leave quicker.
What happens if I don’t use PCT?
If you don’t use PCT, the body will take 3X to 4X longer to recover from your cycle. Your testosterone will be depleted, meaning your estrogen levels will be abnormally high, which could mean gynecomastia (male breasts). I personally know someone this happened to, the guy has tits…
This can only be fixed with expensive surgery. Not only this, but its not healthy for your testosterone levels to be low, you’ll drive, motivation, libido (sex drive), and your zest for life.
If you skip PCT (or go about it haphazardly), you’re also highly likely to lose ALL the strength you gained while on the cycle, which defeats the whole purpose of cycling in the first place. Not to mention the loss of time and money…
Skipping PCT is literally the worst and stupidest thing anyone could ever do, in any situation, ever. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART!!
How Long Should Therapy Last?
It’s recommended to run therapy on average from 3 on the very low end, to 8 weeks on the long end (with 4 to 7 weeks being the sweet spot). However, this varies from each individual based on factors like the compounds used, mg. dosage that was taken, and even genetics.
SARMs vs. SERMs – What’s the Difference?
SARMs and SERMs are both compounds that activate their related receptor in specific target tissues without affecting other organs. SARM is the acronym for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, while SERMs stand for Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators.
SARMS, which bind to androgen receptors, are medically used to treat obesity and muscle wasting. In recent years they’ve become extremely popular among bodybuilders as they mimic the effects of steroids, while avoiding many of the side effects. Despite this, they still have the ability to suppress testosterone, and if taken excessively can cause a yellowish tint in your vision.
SERMS, which bind to the estrogen receptors, are medically used to treat osteoporosis, infertility, and menopause. They are also popular among bodybuilders who often use them as PCT for avoiding gynecomastia.
”ANTI-E”…WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Anti-E is placeholder term which summaries the compounds men take for PCT treatment. The main ones of course being AI’s, SERMS, and HCG. Its simply a quick way to reference the group of substances used for PCT.
PCT is just as important as deciding whether or not to do a cycle in the 1st place. Make sure you’re able to obtain the PCT compounds that compliment the type of steroid cycle you’ll be doing. If you can’t, you’re honestly better off waiting to even start your cycle until you have them IN YOUR POSSESION.
Finishing your gear without the proper PCT compounds handy is like jumping out of plane without a parachute.
If you enjoyed this article and you’d like a more real, NO-BS info-packed guide on cycling steroids, then grab your digital E-Book copy of ”Straight From The Underground” by John Doe Bodybuilding. This is my #1 recommended underground handbook on EVERYTHING related to steroids. Everything in this book is based on first-hand experience instead of theory.