I just read an article about PCT which seems to contradict some of the posts in this forum. For instance, this author argues 1) HCG is a more essential part of PCT than an anti-e, 2) higher weekly doses of HCG post-cycle are best, 3) anti-e's post cycle will do little to help. Any thoughts on the following?
It is important to understand that anti-estrogens alone do not do much to restore endogenous testosterone release after a cycle. Normally they only foster LH by blocking the negative feedback of estrogens, and we now see that LH rebounds quickly without help anyway. Plus, post cycle there is not an elevated level of estrogen for anti-estrogens to block, as testosterone (now suppressed) is a major substrate used for the synthesis of estrogens in men. Serum estrogen levels will actually be lower here as a result, not higher. Any estrogen rebound that occurs post-cycle likewise happens concurrently with a rebound in testosterone levels, not prior to it (note there is an imbalance in the ratio post cycle, but this is another topic altogether). We are seeing no mechanism in which anti-estrogenic drugs can really help here. We can see why this fact would not be difficult to overlook, however. The medical literature is filled with references showing anti-estrogenic drugs like Clomid and Nolvadex to increase LH and testosterone levels, and in normal situations these drugs do indeed increase endogenous androgen production by blocking the negative feedback of estrogens. Combine this with the fact that just as many studies can be found to show that steroid use lowers LH levels when suppressing testosterone, and we can see how easy it would be to jump to the conclusion that post-cycle we need to focus on restoring LH. We would miss the true problem of testicular desensitization unless we were really looking into the actual recovery rates of the hormones involved. When we do, we immediately see little value in using anti-estrogenic drugs.
So we now see, contrary to the dominating opinion of the times, that anti-estrogens alone will do little to raise testosterone levels in the early weeks of the post-cycle window. This leaves us to focus on a very different level of the HPTA in order to hasten recovery: the testes. For this we will need the injectable drug HCG. If you are not familiar with it, HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a prescription fertility agent that mimics the bodies own natural LH. Although the testes are equally desensitized to this drug as LH (they both work through the same mechanism), we are administering it as a measured drug and are therefore not constrained by the limits of our own LH production. We similarly can use HCG to provide a bolus dose of LH (of our choosing), which works only to augment the recovering LH levels we already have in the body. In essence we are looking to shock them with an overwhelmingly high level of LH activity, coming from both endogenous and exogenous sources. We want it to reach a level far above what our body, even when supported by anti-estrogens, could possibly do on its own. The result can be a rapid restoration of original testicular mass and functioning, which would allow normal levels of testosterone to be output much sooner than without such an ancillary program. What we are looking at now is HCG actually being the pivotal post-cycle drug, while anti-estrogens are relegated to a supportive role at best.
Finalizing the Program
An ideal post-cycle recovery program will focus on two things really. The first is hitting the testes hard with HCG. It is important, however, not to overuse this drug. Taken for too long, or at too high a dosage, the LH receptor will actually become desensitized to LH(2) , which may further exacerbate our post-cycle problem instead of helping it (this is why I am not in favor of regular HCG use on-cycle). My experience with HCG has led me to feel comfortable using it for a course of three weeks, at a dosage of maybe 5000-7500IU weekly. Often the last week I limit the dose to 2,500IU, unless the cycle has been particularly long or potent. This is timed so at least half of the total administered drug dosage will be given when there is still exogenous steroid in the body. On our graph above this would be at about the 3-week mark after the last injection of testosterone. This will give the testes some time to get back into shape before the baseline is actually hit with T levels. Secondly, Anti-estrogens are used to play a supportive role at the same time, so 20mg of Nolvadex or 50-100mg of Clomid would typically be added ( my last article for Mind and Muscle discusses the comparative differences with these two agents). This is to combat the suppressive effects of estrogen as testosterone levels start to go back up, as well as potential side effects (HCG has been shown to increase testicular aromatase activity as well (3)). Although in the first couple of weeks the anti-estrogen does little, it may indeed be helpful when testosterone levels actually start to get back up near normal. To further stimulate the HPTA, and support continuingly high LH levels, the anti-estrogen remains to be used for 2 to 3 weeks after the HCG therapy has been stopped. A sample program, as it would be instituted in our sample post-cycle window, is provided below.
Sample Post-cycle Plan:
Week 3: 5000IU HCG total + 20mg Nolvadex daily
Week 4: 5000IU HCG total + 20mg Nolvadex daily
Week 5: 2500IU HCG total + 20mg Nolvadex daily
Week 6: 20mg Nolvadex daily
Week 7: 20mg Nolvadex daily
Week 8: 20mg Nolvadex daily
I hope this article provided a well-needed new look at the mechanisms involved in post-cycle testosterone recovery. Indeed I believe it should debunk a commonly held belief these days, as we seen now that those advocating the sole use of Clomid post cycle are sorely missing the mark. The problem goes much deeper than just getting LH levels back. In fact, we see that LH doesnï¿½??t even need much help kicking back into gear, and a drug like Clomid will do very little to help this anyway in the absence of significant estrogen levels anyway.
HCG is a drug with undeniable usefulness during the post-cycle window, and many bodybuilders have been much too quick to abandon it. It is truly fundamental to an effective recovery program, and would not consider any dose or combination of anti-estrogens or aromatase inhibitors capable of doing the job without it.