What does Dr Dave honestly think of PCT?
G’day everyone. I would first off like to thank everyone for the support and praise I have received. It means a lot to me to hear that I can help out those struggling for resolutions with their cycle results or side effect management. Anyone familiar with my approach will know that I will not let a sale get in the way of the truth. I will be the first person to tell a customer not to buy a product from me if it will not benefit them. So, on that note; is post cycle therapy (or PCT) beneficial? In short, the answer for most of us is no, PCT is not beneficial. I know you may be reading that last sentence, scratching your head; potentially even frustrated with me? Don’t worry, I am about to explain myself. Usually, I would get my fingers busy and start punching out page after page of in depth explanations involving a lot pharmacology, but I know for most of you reading that will not reach you well. For those who want the strict scientist’s answer, you can always email me. Onward then. Why is PCT a waste of time, health and money for most of us?
A successfully completed PCT can be defined as restoring your HPTA (natural testosterone) to its full functioning capacity. The success of a PCT can be defined by assessing lab work values of Total Testosterone compared to your pre-cycle baseline values, or a Total Testosterone of 15 nmol/L or greater. Restoring your HPTA does not mean you will maintain the muscle mass you gained on cycle. All it means to restore your HPTA successfully is that you will lose less muscle mass than if you could not successfully restore your HPTA. If someone gained an appreciable amount of muscle on an AAS cycle and they actually stuck out a PCT, allowed for their HPTA to normalise over several months, then that someone will lose an appreciable amount of muscle in that time. Moreover, that same someone may potentially, lose most of that muscle gained, or even all of it, with enough time passing. This may sound like a controversial statement to make, but I assure you from clinical observation, that a lot of anabolic steroid users lie about their cycles, doses and especially their PCT periods. Conversely, there is also confusion about what a PCT even is. I recall a video created by the passed Rich Piana discussing how he lost no muscle after not injecting anabolic steroids for 4 weeks, while using hCG. May he rest in peace, but 4 weeks after your last Rich Piana injection, you will still have very high levels of anabolic steroids floating around in the serum (bloodstream) and hCG is as suppressive to the HPTA as an anabolic steroid anyway. A proper PCT will last anywhere from 60-90 days after the users last anabolic steroid injection and the success of the HPTA can only be diagnosed after all PCT medications have cleared the body. Common PCT medications such as Nolvadex and Clomid have long half lives of approximately one week, so it is wise to check the HPTA about a month after the last Nolva and/or Clomid dose. Any call of success before that period is wrong. That is not a PCT and the HPTA cannot be confirmed as restored. I can say for sure, many keen anglers will not wait this long before hopping back on their next cycle. Essentially, hopping back on the bike before this diagnosis was merely a time where you switched from anabolic steroids to other medications without actually seeing whether your HPTA was successfully restored and just as importantly, whether or not you could have actually retained the mass you built on the last cycle. From “PCT” to cycle and back again, before the user even knows what the health of his HPTA truly is. Until he decides to give it all up one day, that is. That is the day he either decides to blast and cruise or stop the use of all medications and shrivel back down to his old self, or worse. Of course, there are some tricks to minimise the gains lost on an AAS cycle by using other drugs, but overall, if you gained muscle mass beyond your genetic potential with the use of anabolic steroids, you will need to continue to use anabolic steroids to maintain the majority of that muscle mass long term.
If we can agree that a true PCT requires a more accurate and extensive diagnostic period, then what else could be the problem with PCT? Well, how about toxicity and side effects? I cannot tell you how many emails I receive about side effects related to all of the common PCT medications. Are they usually severe? No. Are they temporary in nature? Yes. Are they common and annoying side effects though? Yes, absolutely. Mood issues, libido issues, sleep issues, just to name a few. Well, I’ve heard enough. I never really liked the idea of blocking estrogen at one site and increasing estrogen at another site. Estrogen, as important to mood, libido and health as testosterone, should not be subject to constant manipulation to this degree. hCG, Nolvadex, Clomid, aromatise inhibitors and other PCT medications alike are all still medications. They are also not safer than anabolic steroids either. All medications come with common side effects and potential toxicity issues. A PCT is simply adding more medications into the equation, making it harder and harder to analyse what is up if something in the body goes wrong.
Gains lost, lying bodybuilders, PCT blues and money down the drain. Why then, is PCT so popular still? Well, saturated fat was once bad for you, then it was good for you; now it might be bad again. Just because 50 million people believe in an ideology, that doesn’t make it correct. The fact is that the clinical evidence we have for PCT is that any respectable bodybuilder or physique on the planet is not doing one. I promise you, after managing the health of many top IFBB names, that a PCT is not a regular part of their drug program for the year, or ever.
Is there any use for a PCT then? Yes, there are some important use cases for a PCT. Many of us will come to the realisation that regularly using AAS just is not for us anymore. If you’re happy to return to your natural state (and perhaps keep a little extra mass you gained on cycle), then a PCT is a recommended therapy to restore your HPTA. If you are also wondering whether or not AAS is for you, a single cycle is unlikely to cause any permanent harm. A PCT can successfully restore your HPTA and you can leave the idea of AAS use behind you and take that experience with you forever. A PCT is also a good idea for those struggling with low testosterone for idiopathic reasons; meaning, not caused by AAS use. Sometimes a PCT can help restore a person’s HPTA back to a level that they had not seen in years. A PCT is also the preferred method for those wanting to conceive a child. It is perfectly reasonable to get clucky and temporarily put aside your athletic dreams until you conceive a child. After all, muscle memory is a legitimate phenomenon. My issues with PCT is not that is does not have its use cases. My issue with PCT is that I do not believe it belongs in a serious athlete’s drug program of whom has decided to make AAS use a regular part of his life. I have discussed my preferred HPTA restoration protocols in depth in other articles stickied within this section of the forum; but for those not willing to read the lengthy hypothesis I have and simply trust my judgement, then below is my current PCT protocol.
– Approximately 3-7 days before all anabolic steroids from the user’s cycle are predicted to clear the body, begin hCG therapy.
– 1000-2000 iu of hCG every 3 days for 10 x shots. Use 2000 iu if your budget allows for it. Clinically, I see better overall results with 2000 iu, but 1000 iu still works.
– Check lab values for Total Testosterone after the 5th shot of hCG to see if the user is responding to hCG therapy. This is a good sign the HPTA is still in tact.
– On the day of the last hCG injection, begin SERM therapy.
– SERM therapy: 25 mg of Clomid per day and 20-40 mg of Nolva per day. I have noticed for lower doses of Clomid to be as effective as higher doses, while heavily reducing side effect potential.
– Check lab values for Total Testosterone 2 weeks into SERM therapy (optional)
– Run SERMs for a total of 4-6 weeks. Again, I notice for longer periods on SERMs to be overall more beneficial. For those who have been using AAS for longer than 6 months, I may suggest up to 8 weeks SERM therapy.
– Wait for all medications to clear before diagnosing the success of the PCT. Both of these SERMs have a half life of approximately one week, so allow for 3-4 weeks to pass before assessing lab values. Check for TT, Free T, FSH, LH, SHGB and E2 (sensitive assay). Ensure all lab values are within acceptable ranges and there are no objective symptoms. To see A Total Testosterone of 15 nmol/L or greater is preferred by me.
– If the users lab values pass, the HPTA restoration has been a success. If not, a second round of HPTA restoration is recommended. If the second round is not successful, then the user is considered to be diagnosed with HPTA dysfunction or low testosterone depending on the final lab results.
Who found this article insightful? Who agrees or disagrees with me? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. Cheers, Dave.