PCT stands for ‘Post Cycle Therapy’ and is a process used by athletes and bodybuilders who use steroids as a safety precaution. In this article, we will look at what PCT is, how it works, and what its relation is to gynecomastia.
How Steroids Work and Their Dangers
While all anabolic steroids are slightly different in the specifics of how they work, they largely have the same intended effects and work via the same broad mechanism.
Usually, steroids are used to encourage the formation of lean muscle mass in bodybuilders and athletes, while at the same time improving energy and aggression.
To do this, steroids increase the male hormone ‘testosterone’, often by binding to the androgen receptors. This exaggerates the male characteristics such as facial hair, aggression, and muscle development.
Unfortunately, though, this can also have a number of unwanted side effects. Male pattern baldness is one such side effect, as is the formation of acne, sweating, and sleep loss among other things.
What’s more, raising testosterone can also raise oestrogen. This is because the body can actually metabolize excess testosterone into oestrogen, causing the formation of male breasts! This is called gynecomastia and is just one way in which the problem can occur.
This gets even worse when an athlete stops using steroids – when they finish their ‘cycle’. At this point, the body may have adapted to the increase in exogenous testosterone by ceasing its natural production of testosterone via the testes. The result is that you now have a serious hormonal imbalance that may never correct itself.
How PCT Solves the Problem
It’s very important that you do not consider using steroids to accelerate your gains in the gym. More serious side effects such as heart problems, along with the legal issues, mean that the risks badly outweigh the potential advantages.
Nevertheless, if you do choose to go down that route, you should at least be prepared to support your testosterone levels after you finish your cycle with a course of PCT – Post Cycle Therapy.
So what do these consist of? Two popular categories of supplements here are:
- Aromatase Inhibitors
Aromatase inhibitors are compounds that block a certain enzyme responsible for breaking down testosterone into oestrogen. This can help to not only increase your free testosterone naturally after you finish a cycle but also prevent a sudden increase in oestrogen.
Meanwhile, hCG is ‘Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin’. This substance helps to enhance the natural production of testosterone in the testes and generally prevents them from shrinking (which is a bonus in itself!).
Also highly recommended is to use a natural supplement to encourage endogenous testosterone production. Natural testosterone boosters can be a very good choice here, as most of them are designed specifically to prevent and treat the formation of male breasts – gynecomastia.
As well as including testosterone supporting substances, such supplements also support healthy liver function and thyroid production. On top of this, many include substances like caffeine or green tea which can increase the metabolism to burn excess fat around the chest area.