If you've been in the performance enhancing arena for any sort of time or have been to a Doc for low testosterone then you've probably heard about HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) by now.
What is HCG and how is it used in raising testosterone?
HCG is what synthetic testosterone is to natural testosterone only mimics luteinizing hormone. Leutinizing hormone (or commonly referred to as “LH”) is the hormone that signals the testes to produce testosterone.
HCG sends the signal to the testes to continue to produce LH. When it comes to the discontinuation of testosterone you have what is called primary hypogonadism and secondary hypogonadism.
Let's actually talk about secondary hypogonadism first since this is more common. Secondary hypogonadism is when the pituitary gland or hypothalamus stops producing testosterone or stops producing as much testosterone.
The use of HCG in this case is intended to bring LH levels back and help you begin producing your own testosterone again.
To what degree this is effective long-term is up for debate, but it's helped a lot of men go from low levels to normal levels and has been sustainable after the discontinuation of HCG administration.
In this case the HCG is given to men in 4-6 week long cycles at moderate to heavy dosing each week. The dosing is all dependent on how low the testosterone level was at the time of the reading.
Dosing can range anywhere from 250 iu per week to 2,000 iu per week. Steroid users who only use HCG short term to blast their LH levels back into production will commonly go 2,500 iu per week for only 2 weeks.
The biggest reason for such higher dosing is to stimulate LH faster and to be able to discontinue the treatment before the HCG can convert to estrogen from over-stimulation of natural testosterone.
HCG itself can cause gynocomastia, which is why it's almost always advised to use an aromatase inhibitor alongside HCG use.
This is why I always recommend bumping up the AI during times of heavy HCG usage.
The aromatase inhibitor will prevent the conversion and allow the user to stimulate his LH and testosterone production without this added risk.
Primary hypogonadism is when the testes do not function properly at all. This isn't the case with most men.
Unlike secondary hypogonadism where the brain isn't sending the signal to the testes (often due to synthetic testosterone cycling), primary hypogonadism is when testicular function itself no longer works but the signal from the brain is still evident.
Here is the nitty gritty on HCG usage, especially with testosterone replacement therapy.
You can mimic LH production and follicle stimulating hormone within the testes despite the absence of “natural LH and FSH” the same way we mimic testosterone levels despite the absence of testosterone actually produced by our own bodies.
What that basically means is that you're still able to produce sperm and retain testicular function even if you're on testosterone replacement therapy, and fertility can still be maintained by doing so in most men.
A lot of this all comes down to how long the user has been on TRT and when the HCG was included in the TRT regimen.
Much of this is up for debate and even medical professionals are still conducting study after study to understand to what degree HCG can stimulate LH and FSH in men with primary and secondary hypogonadism.
JOHN DOE REAL TALK ON HCG
Ok, I'm not a Doctor nor a scientist and aside from the research I've done on HCG I can only give you my personal experiences with it.
HCG is the fastest way to restore testicular function and recovery from a steroid cycle. Although not necessary with a lot of cycles and novice users, it's one of those things that is better to have if you can get it!!
There are two ways to use HCG while cycling and 2 ways to use it while on long-term testosterone replacement therapy.
The first way is to use a smaller amount throughout the cycle (or throughout TRT) to maintain testicular function on a steady basis.
Usually 250 iu per week is the common dose if using HCG during a cycle or during TRT. If using HCG during cycle then a “blast” of HCG is not necessary when coming off cycle or during TRT at any time.
The second way to use HCG is to blast it at higher dosages in shorter intervals, and blast it every so often if you're on TRT. A lot of guys will hit a 5,000 iu vial in a 2 week period once every 10-12 weeks during testosterone replacement therapy (1250 iu 2x/week for 2 weeks).
You may ask yourself why it's commonly run in 2 different manners and there are a couple reasons for that.
For starters, HCG has a shelf life of about 30 days once it's mixed with bacteriostatic water. A lot of vials come in 5,000 iu vials, so your HCG is going to go bad before using it all if you were to run 250 iu a week steady throughout.
The next point to this is that some users feel that it takes a more substantial amount of HCG per injection to really stimulate the testes and this falls more along the lines of cosmetic reasons rather than fertility reasons (guys don't want to see their nuts shrink!!)
For fertility reasons I think running HCG throughout is the better route to go because you're constantly stimulating follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, without backing off intermittently.
You can freeze HCG to prolong the shelf life of it, but to what degree of potency it ends up at after freezing is unknown to me. I'd guess it's probably 80% potent.
This requires pre-loading insulin syringes and sticking them in a freezer which can be a downright pain in the ass, especially if you have kids in the house who may think their father is a junkie when they go to grab a popsicle.
HCG is available in 2,000 iu vials which are perfect for using 250 iu per week on the regular (since a 2,000 iu vial will last exactly the shelf life of 1 month of HCG), but the 2,000 iu vials are less common than the 5,000 iu vials.
If fertility is an issue with you then my recommendation is to use 250 iu weekly throughout the cycle or throughout testosterone replacement therapy.
A for long term TRT users who aren't fertile anymore and want to become fertile, there are theories on higher dosing of HCG restoring Leydig cell fucntion enough to become fertile again, but many of these studies are again debatable and inconclusive.
HOWEVER, statistics show that 50% of men on long-term TRT still maintain fertility, and this is without seeking fertility treatment through a Doc who specializes in it.
MIXING AND INJECTING HCG
The easiest way to inject HCG is to use a 1 ml insulin syringe. You will need some bacteriostatic water (if the vial didn't come with the water) and if the vial is 5,000 iu or just 2,000 iu you will mix 1 ml of bacteriostatic water into your vial of powder.
A 1 ml insulin syringe has marks on the side of it that start at 10 and go 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100. So if 100 units of water represents 5,000 iu of HCG, then you know that for every 10 mark on the syringe it's 500 iu of HCG once it's drawn into the syringe.
Therefore, if you wanted to use 250 iu each week then you'd fill to 5 clicks on the insulin pin (halfway to the 10 mark) and inject it.
My advice is to inject the day before your testosterone shot since this is the day you're test levels will fall the lowest during cycle.
The HCG will help raise the testosterone levels in your body and it's 72 hour life will carry over halfway through the week and this is enough to avoid testicular atrophy.
I'd suggest the same for guys on testosterone replacement, just hit a 250 iu shot the day before your injection.
If you only get one injection of test every 2 weeks then you'll need to do it twice in that 2 week period (I suggest against once every 2 week test injections because it's too long between injections to feel your best)
If your blasting HCG every once in awhile on TRT or using it strictly for 2 weeks post cycle then you'd want to fill to the 25 unit mark on your pin.
(There really is no “25 unit” mark, it's the “20 mark” plus 5 units and inject that twice a week evenly spaced apart (ie; mon/thurs) 25 iu x 4 = 5,000 iu HCG, so 2 weeks of HCG at 2,500iu per week.)
The reason you will want to switch injections to twice a week when blasting HCG is because HCG can make you gyno prone if there is too much estro conversion while stimulating testosterone.
Remember that during HCG use you'll want to use an aromatase inhibitor such as Arimistane or arimidex at 1/2 mg everyday for the 2 week blast.
RUNNING HCG/AI SOLO
Many men will run HCG on it's own to help raise testosterone levels. This is usually accompanied by a small amount of aromatase inhibitor which will help keep estrogen in check and further aid in the elevation of testosterone.
A realistic increase of 300ng/dl on your testosterone is very likely when using HCG on it's own without adding testosterone.
My personal feelings on this is it's not a long term realistic approach to keeping testosterone elevated, but a good short term approach at treating hypogonadism and trying to raise your testosterone levels by stimulating your testes to produce more of their own.
This is something I would do for a period of 4-6 weeks and then discontinue use, at which point I'd wait 8-12 weeks and then go get a hormone panel done to see if testosterone levels stay within normal range.
Keep in mind that a lot of this is going to be individual specific, but it's worth a try for those wanting to elevate testosterone without wanting to resort to testosterone injections just yet.
So there you have it, HCG 101- JD