Steroid Cycle Basics: Why Do You Need PCT

If we try to get to the very core of this question, you need PCT for one simple reason: because your life without it would be significantly worse. Here’s how it works and how to do it right — we’ll try to keep it simple.

Pure Simple Facts on The Importance of PCT

First, so we’re on the common ground, you need to be aware of a few undeniable facts:

Testosterone is important

Your natural testosterone plays a key role in every aspect of your life. From mood to gains, from mental health to hair, from your response to stressful situations to your sex life. The more testosterone you have — the better you feel, the more muscles you gain, and the more you can lift;

You can make it naturally with HPTA

That extremely important hormone — testosterone — is produced in your body naturally. The Leydig cells in your testicles physically create it, and HPTA (the hypothalamus-hypophysis-testis axis) is responsible for the amount of testosterone they make.

The HPTA, in a really simple version of things, works like this:

  1. Hypothalamus releases gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH);
  2. It triggers the pituitary gland;
  3. The pituitary gland releases LH (Luteinizing hormone) and FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone);
  4. They go to your testicles and command them to start making testosterone;
  5. Testosterone goes back to hypothalamus and pituitary;
  6. Based on the levels of it, hypothalamus and pituitary either release more GnRH, LH and FSH (if you need more test) or slow down the production.

The main goal of this whole process is to keep your sex hormones in a perfect balance and avoid hypogonadism. No over-producing, no deficiency. As things should be.

But steroids suppress it

When you take anabolic steroids, regardless of their potency, your HPTA gets confused. Because of the amount of gear in your blood, it gets a clear message: «We have too much. We don’t need more».

The outcome depends on the length of your cycle and the dosage. If you run mild compounds, like Apoxar Anavar, for a short period, your natural testosterone will just get down a bit. And if you run some heavy gear, like Trenbolone Enanthate or Deca Durabolin, you may completely shut down your natural testosterone production. Full stop.

And if it’s suppressed, you get imbalanced hormone levels

Along with testosterone, your body produces estrogen — the female sex hormone. It happens all the time, naturally, and it’s a normal thing to have SOME estrogen in your blood. 

However, when you get your natural testosterone suppressed with steroids, female sex hormones start to dominate the ratio. And that’s not physically OK to have more female sex hormones in your male body than you have male sex hormones. Unless you go through gender transitioning therapy, of course, but preserving muscle mass is never the goal in this case.

Finally, a fact that applies to all aspects of your health, not just steroids: 

Any positive change takes time. No good things happen to your body overnight.

If you get injured, your body will heal the wounds, but it won’t happen in one day. If you get your testosterone suppressed, it will get back to normal, but it will take time. 

That time that it takes for your body to restore natural testosterone depends on a ton of factors. However, without PCT, we’re talking about months, up to a year of constant distress.

The only purpose of PCT is to help your body get back on track faster. It’s more than reasonable: if you take powerful drugs to alter your hormonal balance and get more gains, you’ll need other powerful drugs to get it back to the initial point. The question is — how fast it’ll happen.

How Will You Feel Without PCT?

Let’s imagine that you just finished your 12 weeks cycle of 500 mg Testosterone Enanthate EW with 60 mg Anavar ED in the last four weeks. Your natural testosterone production is suppressed, and you run on “low T”. Here’s what it will look like practically:

  1. You will feel like garbage physically. No energy, weakness, soreness, no desire to get out of bed, no gains, no strength to really work in the gym, and worst of all — you get fat faster;
  2. You’ll be in a bad place mentally: expect depression, anxiety, negative self talk that you can’t control, irritability, all sorts of it;
  3. You won’t be able to have sex: erections and libido are highly dependent on your testosterone levels. No testosterone = no sex, because you won’t want it and you won’t be able to get hard if you do;
  4. And you’ll be in pain. Literally. Suppressed HPTA will make your testicles vulnerable, they’ll get smaller in size and there will always be some nagging, dull pain. Not all guys get it, but that’s not something you want to play with.

No sex, no motivation, no energy, no gains and constant pain. At the same time. For up to a year of your life. Sounds like a nightmare? It’s just a simplified, yet realistic description of typical hormonal imbalance symptoms.

How PCT Saves You From Feeling Bad After Cycle

Now that you understand WHY you need it, here’s WHAT you need. There’s a variety of PCT compounds that can help you feel better and recover faster, all by its own unique mechanism of action:

  • SERMs, aka selective estrogen receptor modulators;
  • HCG, aka human chorionic gonadotropin.

Here’s a brief profile on each of them, and how exactly they’re supposed to help you:


When we say SERMs, we mean just two classic compounds:

  1. Novadex (Tamoxifen);
  2. Clomid (Clomiphene).

SERMs act just the way you’d expect them to, hence the name: they selectively modulate the work of your estrogen receptors.

In simple terms, Nolvadex and Clomid prevent the excessive estrogen from doing any harm by “blocking” the receptors it can bind to. You still get high estrogen in your blood, but it’s incapable of doing anything — it just floats around, safe and useless.

You can read our full guide on Nolvadex and our full guide on Clomid PCT for more info.


Human chorionic gonadotropin is produced only by women during pregnancy, but its structure is 100% identical to the structure of Luteinizing hormone. The one that plays a key role in the way your HPTA works. 

In simple terms, HCG “fakes” the natural LH your pituitary gland is supposed to make (but doesn;t because of steroids) and STILL commands your testicles to produce testosterone. 

Important thing about HCG: You need to take it ON cycle as well, not just after it with SERMs. 

While SERMs are relatively simple (you start them when your blood is free from all anabolic steroids), HCG requires a bit of strategic thinking. You can take it throughout the whole cycle, or start in the last few weeks, some even advocate for taking it only in the first 2 weeks of PCT itself. It all depends on the gear in your cycle, how long did you take it, how high were the doses, and how do you respond to HCG personally.

What Do You Get From PCT?

The shortest answer here is — time. You get time for your hormonal levels to get back to normal. With PCT, you make:

  1. Your recovery after a cycle — less uncomfortable;
  2. The process of recovery — faster;
  3. And your steroid cycle itself — safer. 

Of course, these are just the basics. Nolvadex, Clomid, HCG — all of them require a deeper research. You need to understand precisely, when, how much, for how long to take them, based on the details of your exact cycle.

However, the very first and the most, MOST important thing to understand here, the one that’s often overlooked by novice athletes, is still this: you undeniably, 100%, no questions asked, NEED post-cycle therapy. Period.