Post-cycle therapy (Post Cycle Therapy) - a set of actions in which various medicines are taken in order to minimize the negative side effects of anabolic steroids use.
The main objectives of the PCT are:
Recovery of own testosterone levels;
Prevention of gynecomastia;
Prevention of testicular atrophy;
Cleaning of the liver (especially in case of oral steroids use).
The prevention of gynecomastia requires anti-estrogens such as Tamoxifen, Proviron or Nolvadex.
Proviron can be used during the anabolic cycle, while Tamoxifen only after that, since the effectiveness of steroids may be trimmed several times, and be accompanied by undesired effect if used with Tamoxifen during the normal anabolic cycle.
The essence of their use is the prevention of transformation of testosterone into estrogen. This phenomenon is called gynecomastia and it represents a female trait. And it is a lot better to prevent it, than to remove surgically.
Testicular atrophy it is very, very rare, but still if you want to be cautious or if you find any signs of this conditions you may use Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
Generally this anabolic steroid is referred to as “prop” and “test prop.” The added ester group to this testosterone is quite short at three carbons long. Prop has a very short half-life, on the order of 3-4 days. This means that it requires an every-other-day to every-third-day injection protocol to preserve steady blood levels. Some athletes and bodybuilders even inject it daily and guarantee by this frequency, but it’s probably not really necessary. Because of the short half-life, this is not a drug that needs to be frontload. We’ll talk more about frontloading when we get to the longer chained esters. It should be mentioned that this is an oil-based steroid that is injected in a depot form so that it is released slowly into the bloodstream over a period of time, giving you a steadier level.
A typical dose of prop is 50-100 mg, depending on the athletes’ size and experience. Some bodybuilders may want to go a bit higher. The disadvantage of the higher dose and of test prop in general is the discomfort in injecting. While the frequency is inconvenient to some, the actual pain of injecting seems to be the main restraint for others. Prop has a bad reputation for stinging, painful injections, and many experience a malaise for days after an injection. But if you can get over the discomfort, test prop is a great drug that defers results typical of any testosterone.
In essence lowering the fat intake represents a hit against testosterone production, as fatty acids are the substrates for cholesterol synthesis and therefore are also the substrates for testosterone synthesis, because cholesterol is converted to testosterone. Unfortunately, fats are also easily stored as adipose tissue (body fat), so there must be some type of conciliation between ingesting enough fat for hormone maintenance or subsequent muscle maintenance and reducing fat intake sufficient to decrease body fat. There have been some studies regarding effects of dietary fat on testosterone.
Some of them concluded that diets low in fat (under 15% of total calories) significantly decreased testosterone levels while diets higher in fat (above 30% of total calories) increased serum testosterone levels. In theory it seems that people should not lower fat below 15% of daily calories unless if they would like to avoid extreme testosterone deficiencies. Likewise, one should not increase fat to say 40% in order to increase testosterone. Although fat increases testosterone to a degree
However, theree are many other hormones and factors involved in building muscle other than just testosterone. By increasing fat to really high levels, there will be less “space” for carbohydrates and protein, both of which are very significant. In this case an important conclusion is that - moderation is the key.
In order to keep hormone production regular and fat burning in high gear, while allowing enough “space” to supply adequate carbohydrates and protein for muscle sparing purposes it is not recommended to increase fat above 30% of daily calories.
Gynecomastia represents the medical term for the development of female breast tissues in the male body. This action occurs when the male is presented with an uncommonly high level of estrogen, particularly with the use of strong aromatizing androgens such as testosterone and Dianabol. The surplus estrogen can act upon receptors in the breast and excite the growth of mammary tissues. If left unchecked, this can lead to an actual noticeable and unpleasant tissue growth under the nipple area, in many cases taking on a very feminine exterior. To fight this side effect during steroid therapy, many people find it essential to use some form of estrogen maintenance medication. This includes an estrogen antagonist such as Clomid or Nolvadex, which blocks estrogen from attaching to and activating receptors in the breast and other tissues, or an aromatase inhibitor such as Femara or Arimidex, which blocks the enzyme in charge for the conversion of androgens to estrogens. Aromatase inhibitors like this are currently the most effective options, but also the very expensive.
It is worth noting however, that many believe a slightly elevated estrogen level may help the athlete achieve a more distinct muscle mass gain during a cycle. With this in mind many athletes and bodybuilders decide to use anti-estrogens only when it is required to block gynecomastia. It is of course still a good idea to always keep an anti-estrogen on-hand when injecting or taking an aromatizable steroid, so that it is readily available should trouble become obvious. Puffiness or swelling under the nipple is one of the first signs of pending gynecomastia, often accompanied by pain or soreness in this region. This is a clear indicator that some type of anti-estrogen is required. If the swelling progresses into small, marble like lumps, action absolutely must be taken right away to treat it. Otherwise, if the steroids are continued at this point without ancillary drug use, the user will likely be stuck with hideous tissue growth that can only be removed only with surgery.
It is also important to know that progestins seem to augment the stimulatory effect of estrogens on mammary tissue growth. There appears to be a strong connection between these two hormones here, such that gynecomastia might even be able to take place with the help of progestins, without extra estrogen levels being required. A low estrogen steroid like Deca can potentially cause gyno in several cases, again promoting the necessity to keep anti-estrogens close at hand if you are very responsive to this particular side effect.
HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is a natural protein hormone secreted by the human placenta and purified from the urine of pregnant women. This hormone is not a male hormone but imitates the natural hormone LH (Luteinizing Hormone) nearly identically. LH stimulates the production of testosterone by the testis in males. HCG sends the same message and results in increased testosterone production by stimulating the leydig cells of the testis. HCG treats women with certain ovarian disorders and stimulates the testes in hypogonadal men. Athletes and bodybuilders use HCG to increase the body’s own natural production of testosterone - often depressed by long term steroid use. When steroids are used in high dosages, they can cause a fake signal to go to the hypothalamus that results in a depressed signal to the testicles. Over a period of weeks, this depressed signal causes the testicles to atrophy. To avoid this, athletes will use HCG to keep an artificial signal going to the testis. When administered, HCG raises serum testosterone very rapidly. A rise in testosterone first appears about 2 hours after injecting Pregnyl or other similar drugs. The second peak occurs about 2 to 4 days later. HCG therapy has been found to be very successful in the prevention of testicular atrophy as well as to use the body’s own biochemical stimulating mechanisms to enhance plasma testosterone levels during training.
The optimal dosage for an athlete or bodybuilder using HCG has never been established, but it is thought that a single shot of 1000 to 2000 IU per week will get the desired results. HCG must be refrigerated after it is mixed together and it then has a life of about 10 weeks. It is taken intramuscularly only. This drug is often accessible by order of a physician if you have symptoms of hypogonadism.