Post PCT Panel
This PCT after cycle panel is designed to measure the health and recovery of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular Axis (HPTA) after attempting to normalize it spontaneously or with the use of Post-Cycle Therapy (PCT) . PCT is prescribed by some physicians for men who stop testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or other androgens. Fasting is required for CMP (glucose test).
This PCT after cycle panel ( PCT: Post Cycle Therapy) is designed to measure the health and recovery of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular Axis (HPTA) after attempting to normalize it spontaneously or with the use of Post Cycle Therapy (PCT).
Table of Contents
What is PCT?
PCT is a protocol that you follow after (or "post") completing a cycle of anabolic steroids, a type of performance-enhancing drug (PED). While some PEDs may provide benefits such as muscle growth, they may also negatively impact other aspects of your physical health, particularly your testosterone levels. When you use anabolic steroids, you get a high dose of testosterone. As a result, when you complete your cycle, your body experiences a sharp decrease in testosterone (Pereira, 2019).
While your body will naturally restart testosterone production, returning to normal hormonal levels can take months to years (McBride, 2016; AlShareef, 2022). In the meantime, you may experience low testosterone symptoms such as decreased energy and libido, decreased muscle mass, and depression. Post-cycle therapy can help accelerate this process by giving your body a boost while increasing testosterone production (Pereira, 2019; Delu, 2020).
Some researchers admit that the efficacy of PCT, like many steroid-related practices, is still unproven (de Ronde, 2020).
Why May PCT Be Needed?
This post PCT panel ( Post Cycle Therapy) is designed to measure the health and recovery of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular Axis (HPTA) after attempting to normalize it spontaneously or with the use of Post Cycle Therapy (PCT).
Testosterone replacement therapy ( TRT ) and anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) can lead to HPTA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular Axis) dysfunction. Supplemental testosterone can inhibit the release of the body’s own testosterone production through negative feedback inhibition on LH levels. This feedback inhibition also results in suppression of FSH levels, leading to suppression of sperm production (spermatogenesis).
It is suggested that this panel be done no sooner than 4 weeks after PCT cessation and in a fasting state (morning time)
What Blood Tests Are Included in Post- PCT Panel?
- Ultra Sensitive Estradiol (E2) by Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS assay used to more accurately measure estradiol in men)
- Total and Free Testosterone LC/MS- No upper limit
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH) (Responsible for activating Leydig testicular cells to produce your own testosterone). This hormone is shut down by testosterone replacement or AAS.
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) (Responsible for activating Sertoli testicular cells to produce sperm). This hormone is shut down by testosterone replacement or AAS.
- CBC - Complete Blood Count (Includes hematocrit)
- CMP - Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (Includes liver and kidney function, glucose and electrolytes). FASTING IS REQUIRED FOR ACCURATE GLUCOSE TEST.
Pereira E, Moyses SJ, Ignácio SA, Mendes DK, da Silva DS, Carneiro E, Hardy AMTG, Rosa EAR, Bettega PVC, Johann ACBR. Anabolic steroids among resistance training practitioners. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 16;14(10):e0223384. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223384. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2019 Dec 9;14(12):e0226208. PMID: 31618245; PMCID: PMC6795452.
McBride JA, Coward RM. Recovery of spermatogenesis following testosterone replacement therapy or anabolic-androgenic steroid use. Asian J Androl. 2016 May-Jun;18(3):373-80. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.173938. PMID: 26908067; PMCID: PMC4854084.
AlShareef S, Gokarakonda SB, Marwaha R. Anabolic Steroid Use Disorder. [Updated 2022 Jun 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan
Delu, A., Kiltz, R. J., Kuznetsov, V. A., & Trussell, J. C. (2020). Clomiphene citrate improved testosterone and sperm concentration in hypogonadal males. Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, 66(6), 364–369. doi:10.1080/19396368.2020.1822457.
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Suggested Reading: Testosterone Replacement Blood Test Targets
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