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Thursday, April 16, 2015

HCG in Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)

It is our opinion that HCG is probably one of the most misunderstood and misused compounds in bodybuilding. Hopefully this information will go some way towards rectifying that for the members of MuscleTalk. HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin and is not a steroid, but a natural peptide hormone which develops in the placenta of pregnant women during pregnancy to controls the mother's hormones. (Incidentally, this is the reason you may hear of people testing for growth hormone (HGH) with a pregnancy testing kit - If their HGH shows 'pregnant', they've been ripped-off with cheaper HCG - but we digress slightly).

Its action in the male body is like that of LH, stimulating the Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone even in the absence of endogenous LH. HCG is therefore used during longer or heavier steroid cycles to maintain testicular size and condition, or to bring atrophied (shrunken) testicles back up to their original condition in preparation for post-cycle Clomid therapy. This process is necessary because atrophied testicles produce reduced levels of natural testosterone, this situation should be rectified prior to post-cycle Clomid therapy.

HCG administration post-cycle is common practice among bodybuilders in the belief that it will aid the natural testosterone recovery, but this theory is unfounded and also counterproductive. The rapid rise in both testosterone, and thus oestrogen due to aromatisation, from the administration of HCG causes further inhibition of the HPTA (Hypothalamic/Pituitary/Testicular Axis - feedback loop discussed above); this actually worsens the recovery situation. HCG does not restore the natural testosterone production.

The typically observed dosing of 2000 to 5000IU every 4 to 5 days causes such an increase in oestrogen levels via aromatisation of the natural testosterone that this has been responsible for many cases of gynecomastia.

From the above discussion it is clear that HCG is best used during a cycle, either to:

1) Avoid testicular atrophy, or
2) Rectify the problem of an existing testicular atrophy.

HCG Dosage
Smaller doses, more frequently during a cycle will give best overall results with least unwanted side effects. Somewhere between 500IU and 1000IU per day would be best over about a two-week period. These doses are sufficient to avoid/rectify testicular atrophy without increasing oestrogen levels too dramatically and risking gynecomastia. This dosing schedule also avoids the risk of permanently down-regulating the LH receptors in the testes.

It is important for the HCG administration to have been completed with 6 or 7 clear days before the onset of PCT in order to avoid inhibition of the Nolvadex and/or Clomid therapy. Also, a small daily dose (10-20mg) of Nolvadex would normally be used in conjunction with HCG in order to prevent oestrogenic symptoms caused by sudden increases in aromatisation.

Presentation and Administration of HCG
Synthetic HCG is often known as Pregnyl (generic name) and is available in 2500iu and 5000iu (not ideal for the above doses!). Administration of the compound is either by intra-muscular or subcutaneous injection. It comes as a powder which needs to be mixed with the sterile water. The powder is temperature-sensitive prior to mixing and should not be exposed to direct heat. After mixing, it should be kept refrigerated and used within a few weeks - though there are sterility issues which need to be considered after mixing.

Summary and Presentation of Clomid and HCG
Clomid and/or Nolvadex are more effective than HCG post cycle, but some long-term users like to use HCG during a cycle, or to prepare the testes for Clomid and/or Nolvadex therapy.

Clomid is available in 50mg tablets most commonly, but also comes in 25mg capsule, often in boxes of 24 tablets. Tamoxifen is made by a number of manufacturers and comes in 10mg or 20mg tablets, most commonly 30 x 20mg tablets. HCG generally comes in kits of three ampoules of powder needing to be mixed with the provided injectable water as 1500IU, 2500IU or 5000IU per ampoule kits.

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