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Clomid, Nolvadex and HCG in Post Cycle Recovery
One of the most frequently asked questions on MuscleTalk is how to use properly use the post cycle therapy (PCT) drugs Clomid, Nolvadex and HCG correctly.
(A note to Americans - when I say 'oestrogen' I mean 'estrogen' - we spell it correctly in the UK!)
Why Bodybuilders Use Clomid
Clomid is a generic name for Clomiphene Citrate and is a synthetic oestrogen. It is prescribed medically to aid ovulation in low fertility females. Another generic name is Serophene.
Most anabolic steroids, especially the androgens, cause inhibition of the body's own testosterone production. When a bodybuilder comes off a steroid cycle, natural testosterone production is zero and the levels of the steroids taken in the blood are diminishing. This leaves the ratios of catabolic : anabolic hormones in the blood high, hence the body is in a state of catabolism, and, as a result, much of the muscle tissue that was gained on the cycle is now going to be lost.
Clomid stimulates the hypothalamus to, in turn stimulant the anterior pituitary gland (aka hypophysis) to release gonadotrophic hormones. The gonadotrophic hormones are follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH - aka interstitial cell stimulating hormone (ICSH)). FSH stimulates the testes to produce more testosterone, and LH stimulates them to secrete more testosterone. This feedback mechanism is known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-testes axis (HPTA), and results in an increase of the body's own testosterone production and blood levels rise, to, in part, compensate for the diminishing levels of exogenous steroids. This is vital to minimise post cycle muscle losses.
Not all steroids do cause shut down of the feedback mechanism. Everyone is different and you must also take into account how long you have been using a certain steroid and at what dose in order to determine if you need Clomid or not.
Clomid also works as an anti-oestrogen. As it's a weak synthetic oestrogen, it binds to oestrogen receptors on cells blocking them to oestrogen in the blood. This minimises the negative effects like gynecomastia and water retention that may be a result of oestrogen that has aromatised from testosterone.
It's effect as an anti-oestrogen are quite weak though, and it should not be relied upon if you are going to be using androgenic steroids that aromatise at a rapid rate, or if you are pre-disposed to gynecomastia. Arimidex and Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) are far more effective anti-oestrogens.
Important note: Clomid does not, as is often thought, stimulate the release of natural testosterone, but rather works at reducing the oestrogenic inhibition caused by the steroid cycle. It does this in a similar manner to the way it and Nolvadex block oestrogen receptors in nipples to combat gyno development, i.e. by blocking the oestrogen receptors in the hypothalamus and pituitary thus reducing the inhibition from the elevated oestrogen. This allows LH levels to return to normal, or even above normal levels, and in turn, natural testosterone levels to also normalise.
Inhibition of the HPTA is caused by either elevated androgen, oestrogen or progesterone levels. On cessation of the steroid cycle, androgen levels begin to fall and Clomid dosing is normally commenced according to the half-life of the longest acting drug in the system (see below).
This may also explain the reason individuals often find post-deca recovery more difficult, as the progesterone presence is untouched by the Clomid. We know that Clomid and Nolvadex (being very similar chemically) are both ineffective with regard to reducing progesterone related gyno, so it is reasonable to assume that Clomid has little effect against progesterone levels.
Clomid During A Cycle
When we use anabolic steroids, the level of androgens in the body rises causing the androgen receptors to become more highly activated, and through the HPTA, a signal tells our testes to stop producing testosterone. During a cycle the body has far higher than normal levels of androgens and, as long as this level is high enough, Clomid will not help to keep natural testosterone production up. It will be almost all but completely shut off, in theory.
Some heavy androgen users, however, do advocate a small burst of Clomid mid-cycle, though it must be hard for them to say if it really of any benefit, due to the amount of gear they are using. Therefore, the only purpose of Clomid during a cycle is as an anti-estrogen.
When To Start Clomid
The correct time to commence Clomid depends on the type and cycle of steroids you have been using. Different steroids have different half-lifes (indicates the time a substance diminishes in blood), and Clomid administration should be taken accordingly.
As we have seen above, Clomid taken when androgen levels in our blood are still high will be a waste. It is crucial to wait for androgen levels to fall before implementing our Clomid therapy. However, if taken too late we could possibly lose gains.
The list below determines when you should start Clomid. Select from the list any steroids you've used in your cycle and whichever one has the latest starting point is the time to commence Clomid. For example, if Dianabol, Sustanon and Winstrol were cycled, the time for administering Clomid should be 3 weeks post cycle, as Sustanon remains active in the body for the longest period of time.