What is Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)?
What is Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)? If you’ve been doing any reading about using prohormones or steroids, you’ve probably wondered this yourself, at least when you first started doing your research.
After using a prohormone or steroid, the hormone balance of your body is usually out of whack, with the usual result being your natural testosterone is low (because you took a compound that artificially boosted it) and your estrogen elevated (to offset the higher testosterone). When you stop taking the compound, your testosterone blood levels drop very quickly, but estrogen and other catabolic (muscle destroying) hormones can remain high. This can make it difficult to keep the gains you made on cycle. The purpose of PCT is to quickly restore your body’s natural production of anabolic hormones and reduce catabolic ones.
In order to understand PCT, you eed to know a bit of how your body works when it comes to producing hormones and building muscles. Relax, I’ll try to keep this painless.
In males, starting in puberty, the Hypothalamus begins to secret Gonadatropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH). This causes the pituitary to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luetenizing Hormone (LH). These two hormones act on the testes to stimulate cells called Leydig cells to produce testosterone (and androgen).
When an androgen (either your own natural testosterone or an anabolic steroid you’ve taken) binds to a receptor inside the cell, it gives the cell a message to do something. In the case of testosterone, one of the messages it sends is to increase nitrogen retention, allowing your body to use more protein and build more muscle. Now that’s a very simplified version of how it all works, but it’s essentially what happens and why steroids enable you to gain muscle.
But there’s a flip side. The increase in andoUnder the control of this heightened state of androgens, you also go through androgenic development as well as anabolic development. This can be seen in puberty when males grow body hair experience voice changes, as experience genital development and growth.
Back to the whole hormonal process….
So your hypothalamus makes GnRH which stimulates the pituitary to make LH and FSH, which in turn causes the testes to stimulate the Leydig cells to produce testosterone. But if excess testosterone is produced, it can interfere with GnRH production. This can affect LH and FSH, and that can affect natural testosterone production. This is how your body maintains a balance and keeps excess hormones from being secreted.
So you can see what happens if you artificially raise testosterone levels. This signals the hypothalamus to stop producing GnRH, which means no signal goes out to thepituitary to make FSH and LH, which means no signal to teh Leydig cells to make testosterone. Now you’re in a situation where your body takes a while to start up the natural production process again. This can result in losing all that muscle you just gained. That’s where your PCT comes in as you kickstart this process as quickly as possible.
Nolvadex vs. Clomid
It seems like everyday questions concerning PCT pop up, and weather one should use either Clomid or nolva or a combo of both. I hope that this article may help to clear up some misconceptions.
While practically similar compounds in structure, few people ever really consider Clomid and nolva to be similar. Its not just a common myth in steroid circles, but even in the medical community. This misconception originates from their completely different uses. Nolvadex is most commonly used for the treatment of breast cancer in women, while Clomid is generally considered a fertility aid. In bodybuilding circles, from day one, Clomid has generally been used as post-cycle therapy and Nolvadex as an anti-estrogen.
But as I intend to demonstrate this is in essence the same. I believe the myth to have originated because nolva is clearly a more powerful anti-estrogen, and the people selling Clomid needed another angle to sell the stuff, so it was mostly used as a post-cycle aid. But few users really understand how Clomid (and also Nolvadex, logically) works to bring back natural testosterone in the body after the conclusion of a cycle of androgenic anabolic steroids. After a cycle is over, the level of androgens in the body drop drastically. The body compensates with an overproduction of estrogen to keep steroid levels up. Estrogen as well inhibits the production of natural testosterone, and in the period between the return of natural testosterone and the end of a cycle, a lot of mass is lost. So its in everybody’s best interest to bring back natural test as soon as humanly possible. Clomid and Nolvadex will reduce the post-cycle estrogen, so that a steroid deficiency is constated and the hypothalamus is stimulated to regenerate natural testosterone production in the body. That’s basically how the mechanism works, nothing more, nothing less.
Both compounds are structurally alike, classified as triphenylethylenes. Nolvadex is clearly the stronger component of the two as it can achieve better results in decreasing overall estrogen with 20-40 mg a day, than Clomid can in doses of 100-150 mg a day. A noteworthy difference. Triphenylethylenes are very mild estrogens that do not exert a lot, if any activity at the estrogen receptor, but are still highly attracted to it. As such they will occupy the receptor and keep it from binding estrogens. This means they do not actively work to reduce estrogen in the body like Proviron, Viratase or arimidex would (by competing for the aromatase enzyme), but that it blocks the receptor so that any estrogen in the body is basically inert, because it has no receptor to bind to.
This has advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that when use is discontinued, the estrogen level is still the same and new problems will develop much sooner. The advantage is that it works much faster and has results sooner than with an aromatase blocker like Proviron or arimidex. Therefor, when problems such as gynocomastia occur during a cycle of steroids one will usually start 20 mg/day of nolva or 100 mg/day of Clomid straight away, in conjunction with some Proviron or arimidex. The proviron or arimidex will actively reduce estrogen while the Clomid or Nolvadex will solve your ongoing problem straight away. This way, when use is discontinued there is no immediate rebound.
So which one should you use? Well personally, I’d have to say Nolvadex. Both as an on-cycle anti-estrogen and a post-cycle therapy. As an anti-estrogen its simply much stronger, demonstrated by the fact that better results are obtained with 20-40 mg than with 100-150 mg of Clomid. For post-cycle, this plays a key role as well. It deactivates rebound estrogen much faster and more effective. But most importantly, Nolvadex has a direct influence on bringing back natural testosterone, where as Clomid may actually have a slight negative influence. The reason being that tamoxifen (as in Nolvadex) seems to be the best choice for PCT.