SARMs are meant to be virtually free of the hormone suppressing side effects common to anabolic steroids, whilst delivering many of the androgenic benefits that make steroids so popular. Is this reputation reliable? Will you need post cycle therapy (PCT) after taking SARMs?
What is a PCT?
After an anabolic androgenic steroid cycle, the user will be left in a severe catabolic state. This will likely inhibit their ability to retain the muscle mass they gained during their cycle, amongst other health risks. The cause will be the often-severe suppression of their natural testosterone production, alongside the fact that the levels of steroids in their system will be forever diminishing.
Leaving levels depleted can have serious health implications. Symptoms like a decline in energy levels or libido, or the occurrence of gynecomastia, are commonplace when testosterone levels are suppressed.
Therefore, natural testosterone production needs to be restored.
Various drugs are used which work to stabilise and restore natural hormone production: these are post cycle therapies (PCTs.)
Do SARMs need a PCT?
One of the many benefits people claim for SARMs is that they do not need a post cycle therapy. But is this true, and is it so straight forward as this?
Simplistically, SARMs may lightly suppress your natural hormone production. Some cases will require the user to submit to a solid PCT. However, there will be several factors at work that will determine whether or not an individual user will indeed need post cycle therapy.
Firstly, the SARM being used and the duration of the cycle will be of great significance. An 8-week Ostarine cycle at 20mg daily, for instance, will barely be suppressive at all and will likely require no PCT. On the other hand, 20mg daily of RAD 140 for 12 weeks will be much more suppressive and PCT will usually be needed.
I have seen great results from both the above cycles. Ostarine is arguable less effective, but it works whilst leaving no traces of suppression. RAD 140 gives significantly improved results, though I have seen suppression being relatively strong. PCT fixes this.
Whether or not a PCT will be needed is also highly individualistic. I have always benefitted from it where others have found it unnecessary. Not everybody will experience suppression to the same degree.
Generally, PCTs will be testosterone boosters. They will contain various testosterone enhancing, active ingredients. Some will be naturally occurring extracts, like ashwagandha or fenugreek, whist others will be manufactured: all will be scientifically proven to improve testosterone production.
It’s always worthwhile to invest in a highly rated test booster when you’re coming off a SARM cycle. However, this will be more important for some SARMs than others:
PCT for Ostarine
You will not usually need PCT for Ostarine. It’s touted as one of the milder SARMs for good a reason, as it barely has any suppressive effect on your natural hormone production. Ostarine will give you the results you are after with relatively minor, or often no, side effects. For this reason, I favour it highly as one of the best compounds for overall health and fitness, and as a great tool for cutting and recomping. I’ve also used it for hypertrophy with impressive results.
I would suggest running an Ostarine cycle of between 20-30mg daily for up to 12 weeks. I’ve seen several of these cycles through without any kind of negative side effect (a little light headedness in the initial week or so aside.) I retained muscle mass after each cycle with no need for PCT.
This being said, PCT will never hurt. If you’re ever in any doubt, it might be best to cover your bases and take one anyway.
PCT for other SARMs
Aside from Ostarine, the other SARMs most commonly used are a mixed bag with regards the need for PCT. Amongst the ones for which PCT will likely not be needed are:
- Stenabolic (SR 9009)
- Ibutamoren (MK 667)
- Cardarine (GW 501516)
These SARMs have little to no impact on natural hormone production.
However, as above, it might be worth purchasing a natural testosterone booster to aid with recovery, especially if you are concerned about low testosterone production levels. It won’t hurt and may be helpful.
Now we move onto the stronger SARMs: the following are much more suppressive compounds. They give you incredibly impressive results, especially when run at higher doses, but will most likely require a good quality PCT to aid in bringing hormone production back to normal afterward.
The SARMs I would always use a PCT for are:
- Testolone (Rad 140)
- YK 11
- S 23
- Ligandrol (LGD 4033)
Nearly every user you will come across needs a PCT after cycling through these. Lower doses of Ligandrol may be safe- I’ve used 5mg daily for an 8 week cycle without PCT and recovered well- but when you get to the 10mg+ range it becomes necessary.
For all the others, always use a PCT for recovery.
If you can, I would always suggest having your bloodwork taken prior and post cycle so that you know exactly how the SARMs are affecting you. However, for most of us, how we feel will be the best yardstick we have.
If you feel fatigued, weak, or sexually disinterested during or after a cycle, you can be fairly certain that your testosterone levels are low. At this point, take a PCT: your hormone levels should return to normal fairly quickly.