What is a PCT
Post cycle therapy, also commonly referred to as PCT plays a significant part of any steroid cycle. When someone uses steroids, they suppress their bodies own natural Testosterone production. Although the human body can restore Testosterone production without any help, it can take an extended period of time. A PCT is done to help the body start producing testosterone again faster than what the body can do without any assistance.
Benefits of a Post Cycle Therapy
Low Testosterone levels can lead to a number of issues, such as:
- Muscle loss
- Loss of strength
- Increased estrogen levels
- Loss of libido
By following a proper PCT protocol, you are speeding up the time needed for your body to start producing Testosterone again naturally. The faster you can restore your Testosterone production the less chance of the above issues occurring. The last thing you want after working so hard to build muscle during your cycle is to lose the majority of it due to not doing a PCT.
When to Start a PCT
A PCT should be started at the end of a cycle, once the steroids are out of your system. Many users make the mistake of starting a PCT to early while they still have steroids in their system, essentially making the PCT ineffective. To calculate when to start your PCT, you need to look at the half-lives of the steroids you are using (see below for a list of steroid half-lives). Although there are many different theories on how long to wait before starting a PCT, as a general rule of thumb, you should take the half-life and multiply it by 3 to find out how long to wait.
For example, if you were to cycle Testosterone Cypionate (half-life 12 days) and Dianabol (half-life 6 hours), due to Testosterone Cypionate having a longer half-life, this is the one we need to calculate, 12 days x 3 = 36 days. So 36 days after your last injection of Testosterone Cypionate you should start your PCT. Waiting 36 days will provide adequate time for the Testosterone to be out your system.
|Masteron (Enanthate)||10.5 days|
|Masteron (Propionate)||4.5 days|
|Testosterone Cypionate||12 days|
|Testosterone Enanthate||10.5 days|
|Testosterone Propionate||4.5 days|
What Type of PCT Protocol to Follow
There are many different theories and opinions when it comes to what type of PCT is the best and how long to run a PCT for. Generally, the kind of PCT to follow and the length of the PCT will depend on what type of cycle you did and how long the cycle lasted.
Here are a few things to think about when planning a PCT.
Types of Steroids Used
Certain steroids suppress Testosterone production more than others. For example, a cycle that consists of Deca Durabolin will require a stronger PCT than a cycle that consists of only Winstrol or Anavar. If you are unsure of how suppressive the steroids in your cycle are, you should research online about each steroid contained in your cycle. You should then have an idea of what type of PCT to follow.
Length of the Cycle
A longer cycle will cause more shutdown than a shorter cycle and will thus require a bigger Post Cycle Therapy. Using steroids for a prolonged period is never recommended as it can cause permanent suppression of testosterone production. Even with a powerful PCT protocol, recovery from long steroid cycles (16+ weeks) can take a very long time.
An effective PCT will usually contain the following:
- An Aromatase Inhibitor (AI)
- A Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM)
- Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin
These are drugs that prevent Testosterone converting to Estrogen and thus lowering Estrogen levels within the body. AI’s are not only crucial during a PCT but also during a cycle to avoid specific estrogen related side effects such as gynecomastia and water retention. Some of the more popular aromatase inhibitors are Arimidex, Letrozole, and Aromasin.
Unlike AI’s, SERM’s do not stop the conversion of Testosterone to Estrogen. Instead, they work by binding to Estrogen receptors within the body, which then prevents Estrogen from binding to the receptors instead. SERM’s are very effective at preventing or even reducing gynecomastia. Commonly used SERM’s are Nolvadex and Clomid.
HCG mimics the LH in the body which in turn stimulates the Leydig cells, resulting in the testes producing Testosterone. HCG also causes an increase in estrogen levels, and thus a SERM such as Nolvadex should be taken alongside HCG. Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin can also be used during a steroid cycle to prevent the testicles from shrinking.
As mentioned above, the type of PCT will depend on the cycle. A larger cycle would require a larger PCT. HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) is usually added to larger steroid cycles that cause heavier suppression of Testosterone production.