Welcome to Part 6 of our comprehensive hormone replacement therapy (HRT) series (click for index).
This is the final section.
Hormone replacement therapy is a comprehensive subject.
There's no way I can cover everything in a handful of blog posts. I've simplified the information as best as I could and shared my 10+ years of experience, I'll answer some frequently asked questions that I've been asked over the years and hit you with my conclusions about this "HRT thing".
Remember - the scope is limited to HRT, not 'doing steroids', all that information is over at Good Looking Loser.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Really Permanent, Can I Never Ever Come Off?
It's a myth that you can't "come off".
Several of my friends, came off of HRT cold-turkey (no PCT medications) and fully recovered. Scotty had been taking testosterone for 10 years and Mike for over 18 months.
Both are fine.
You can pretty much expect to return to whatever natural testosterone level you were at previously. Same goes for thyroid levels - from bodybuilders I know and all that I've read.
Obviously, if your testosterone or thyroid levels were naturally low before HRT - coming off doesn't make a lot of sense.
Do I Have To Use Anti-Estrogens If I Use Testosterone For HRT?
I don't know how the rumor got started that every guy needs to use anti-estrogens as part of their HRT protocol.
If you aren't prone to gyno, you don't even have to use anti-estrogens if you take super-physiological ('do steroids') doses.
Why would you have to take them for HRT?
Think about it -
HRT is simply restoring your normal testosterone levels.
Did you take anti-estrogens when you weren't on HRT?
No, of course not.
With that said, guys that are prone to gyno should be vigilant and keep anti-estrogens on hand when they start approaching high-normal or high testosterone levels. Especially if they use Finasteride and/or smoke a lot of weed.
If you are actually doing testosterone replacement therapy at HRT doses (and not just "doing steroids") - you should not need any anti-estrogens.
What About HGH for Preventing or Reversing Aging?
(Is It Really the Fountain of Youth...?)
HGH is an entire separate topic, I could write a book on it, but I'll have to keep this short and limit it to a basic HRT discussion.
Human growth hormone (HGH), especially pharma-grade HGH, is good stuff. Yet, it is highly overrated at the same time.
The anti-aging effects are highly exaggerated - unless you are over 40 years old.
Like testosterone and thyroid hormone, HGH HRT doses (2-4ius) are only going to benefit guys that actually need it.
99% of guys that are under 30 do not need it and literally will not see any sort of anti-aging effect whatsoever. None.
In fact -
It will just bloat your face and you'll look older temporarily.
Unless you have a deficiency (which you would likely already know from puberty), it's probably not going to benefit you in an 'anti-aging' capacity until you are 40+.
Trust me on this, I would look like I was 20 if HGH stopped aging like much of the Internet claims.
Unless you are 40+ or very wealthy, save your money.
So Is HGH Useful At All For Guys in Their 20's and 30's?
Just not in an 'anti-aging' or HRT capacity.
I used HGH on-and-off from 2005 to 2011.
HGH will be beneficial for guys in their 20's and 30's in the following scenarios -
If you are a non-bodybuilder in your 20's or 30's, taking HGH as a standalone for fat loss is expensive and a highly unnecessary way to lose weight.
It's not a "1% difference" like most dietary supplements offer, but it's about a "25% difference".
The fat loss benefits are apparent but highly exaggerated and unnecessary for the average guy who doesn't have mountains of lean mass to preserve.
A final note -
The debate will always rage over how legitimate all the generic HGH from China really is.
Many guys say that everything from China is total garbage in comparison to real pharma-grade HGH.
Maybe it's true, I haven't used HGH since 2011.
Back in the day, I've had a decent experience with generic "blue/red top" products from China. It's not as good as the real stuff obviously. But neither will make the fat drip off your body unless your diet and training are in order.
Mike expands what you can really expect from HGH for HRT here -
In case you wondered -
"HGH Booster" dietary supplements are garbage.
Save your money.
What About Progesterone, Is It Useful For Male HRT?
(The Not-So-Great Progesterone Experiment of 2015!)
Progesterone is generally regarded in the category of estrogen - an annoying, unwanted female-dominate hormone.
Most bodybuilders are only familiar with the hormone via trenbolone which can cause progesterone-induced gyno which anti-estrogens won't prevent.
(using Dostinex or the over-the-counter supplement 'Vitex' kills progesterone effective; personal experience)
Progesterone is seldom a part of the men's HRT discussion since injectable testosterone (or HCG) isn't going to significantly increase your progesterone levels.
After all, progesterone is what post-menopausal women take for HRT and the hormone is not considered to be beneficial to men.
But that might not quite be the case.
An independent scientist named 'Danny Roddy' looked into it further and discovered -
During pregnancy hair grows thicker, faster and often results in a "lush head of hair."[8,9] In some cases pregnancy reverses "male-pattern baldness". In contrast to the beneficial effects of pregnancy on hair growth, postpartum women routinely experience dramatic hair loss. This hair loss coincides with a shift in the hormonal environment from "progesterone dominance" to a higher functioning of both prolactin and estrogen. (Progesterone production is inhibited by prolactin, which is stimulated by estrogen, to support the removal of calcium from bone for lactation.)
- From "Organizing the Panic" by Danny Roddy
Sometime last year, he posted these images on his Facebook page that appear to be legitimate evidence of guys that used a derivative of synthetic progesterone to regrow scalp hair.
He suggested that progesterone might be the 'missing link' to male pattern baldness since simply lowering DHT doesn't seem to prevent hair loss for a lot of men and might offer a legitimate prospect at actually reviving dead follicles.
So I decided to look into this 'progesterone' factor further and try a little experiment.
Long story short -
I purchased this natural progesterone cream that was highly-rated on Amazon that other men had also used before. My doctor and I thought natural progesterone cream was a safer alternative to playing around with synthetic progesterone injections which even Danny himself discourages.
I got my progesterone level tested before I started -
For the following 2 weeks, I took the recommended dose (40mg) -
For the first 4-5 days, my sex drive went up significantly. I was foaming at the mouth.
For the next 10 days, extreme fatigue set in. I couldn't stay awake more than 4 hours at a time and had to sleep 16-18 hours a day.
Before I discontinued the experiment (I can't live like that), I decided to get my progesterone level checked again. I figured they would be super high which would explain the extreme fatigue -
My progesterone level had only gone up 0.1 ng/mL.
Obviously the cream was working, it kept knocking me out, but my progesterone level didn't really move.
It really made no sense at all to me.
During the 2 week experiment, I can't say I saw any change in hair growth or hair loss.
2 weeks is obviously way too small of a sample size though. Unfortunately I had to stop the experiment.
I still feel natural progesterone might be worth experimenting with (using 1/3 of the recommended dose) to improve or possibly restore scalp hair. Although there is really no such thing as "regrowing" hair since miniaturized hair follicles are essentially dead, Danny has pulled a lot of clinical research and common sense that progesterone is definitely a significant hormonal element to the hair growth/loss process.
What About the Anti-Androgen RU58841?
RU58841 is a research compound that can protect hair follicles from DHT.
I don't use RU58841 since I've found a happy-medium with Finasteride which keeps my DHT levels at 30ng/dL (the very lowest point of the acceptable reference range) and no longer "blast" testosterone.
It DEFINITELY works to topically lower DHT levels though.
If your research subject takes too much, it will systematically lower DHT levels just like Finasteride will.
The stuff works great for some guys and it would have been great to have back when I used other compounds that metabolized to DHT. Stuff like topical spironolactone or saw palmetto isn't anywhere near as effective as RU58841.
What Is the Main Benefit To 'Optimization' HRT?
(If You Don't Have Low Testosterone to Begin With)
If your testosterone is naturally low (hypogonadism), HRT will clear up all the 'low testosterone' side effects - low energy, low sex drive, brain fog, poor sleep, depressed/low motivation, anxiety, etc.
Likewise with hypothyroidism.
The main benefit to 'optimization' (increasing your testosterone/thyroid levels even though you don't have to), in my experience, is body composition.
I used to be really serious about the gym when I was in my bodybuilding phase - I'd go 5 weeks a day for 2 hours at a time and eat 4000 calories and 300+ grams of protein a day.
I used to squat 455 lbs. for 25 (to the ground) and incline bench 225 for 25. I could run pretty fast too.
Those days are long past but I've been able to semi-preserve my physique (not strength) because of HRT.
Most people are shocked to hear -
I've worked out about 50 times in the past 2 years.
Although I definitely need to get back in the gym a bit more (and I have), my shoulders have stayed fairly wide, my arms and legs bigger than average and generally look like I sort of workout when I do virtually nothing but sit on my ass and run businesses these days.
This "slightly better than average physique" with no effort is thanks to HRT (and years of work prior).
My Conclusions About Hormone Replacement Therapy
There's two reasons why guys get on hormone replacement therapy -
The first scenario is a no-brainer. Hormone replacement therapy can be a game-changer if you have deficiencies.
The second scenario, the reason that I opted for hormone replacement therapy in 2005, is less certain.
In my non-medical opinion - unless your testosterone levels are below 500ng/dl and you have legitimately tried to improve them over the course of several months that you avoid this 'optimization' idea.
If you are a competitive bodybuilder with significant amounts of lean mass to maintain - that is a different story.
My current prescribed protocol of 250mg of testosterone every 10 days and 250ius of HCG every 3-4 days gives me a testosterone level of 700-900ng/dl. I find this is better for my current less physically demanding lifestyle than maintaining a testosterone level over 1000ng/dl.
As for thyroid levels, although I believe that more guys could benefit from a metabolic bump (rather than a testosterone increase), thyroid replacement should only be done if your thyroid is actually slow for your age. You do not need thyroid hormone to get an ideal body and the appetite increases can actually be counter-productive for some people.
All that said, everyone should learn what their endocrine system is doing and realize that "getting old" doesn't require feeling old.
Hormone replacement therapy is great for some people.
Our series on hormone replacement therapy continues here -
Super helpful testosterone replacement therapy resource -
Non-medical questions and comments on in-depth subjects such as hormone replacement therapy are best left in our forum, blog comments have been disabled.