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The complex relationship between steroids and the HPTA axis is one that is often skimmed over.
You’re eager to hit the gym, and taking synthetic steroids to boost your testosterone is probably as simple as you think the process of bulking up is going to be.
But here’s the thing: it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Testosterone has many complex effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (HPTA) axis, and supplementation can actually shut down this entity of endocrine glands.
This is why natural products from companies like CrazyBulk are recommended for boosting testosterone levels.
Ultimately, knowing how you can shutdown your HPTA axis is important for any bodybuilder, which is why we’re going to explain this complex process below.
Steroids and the HPTA Axis
The HPTA axis is a term that refers to three endocrine glands—the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonadal glands—as a single system.
But what is HPTA function, and why are these glands referred to collectively?
They are tightly related to each other and when it comes to bodybuilding, this interconnected axis is greatly affected by the use of steroids.
This is why it’s so essential to understand the connection between these glands and their relevance to your bodily health.
To put it simply, using exogenous, synthetic testosterone is going to affect this system, and there’s no avoiding this fact.
Some bodybuilders take an HPA test to determine that this system is working properly and not being adversely affected by anabolic steroid use.
But now let’s get to the specifics.
The “grand master” of this system is the hypothalamus, which releases Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH).
Upon release, this hormone acts on your pituitary gland, which releases follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone.
So what’s so important about these hormones?
They act on cells in the testes called Leydig cells, which create and release testosterone using cholesterol as the backbone.
But here’s the kicker: testosterone can subsequently inhibit GnRH in many ways, which then prevents the secretion of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone, curbing your body’s natural production of testosterone.
In science, this is called a negative feedback loop, and works to maintain homeostasis in many bodily processes.
So when testosterone is no longer being produced, this negative feedback ceases, and GnRH goes back to doing what it does: stimulating your pituitary gland.
Let’s get this out of the way: there are many ways to boost your testosterone outside of synthetic anabolic steroids that can save you the hassle of potential complications stemming from significantly interfering with your HPTA axis.
Just take a look at CrazyBulk’s Testo-Max: it boosts testosterone by using tribulus terrestris extract, standardized to 45 percent saponins—nearly twice the concentration of steroidal chemicals in competing brands.
It also includes D aspartic acid (which regulates testosterone synthesis), panax ginseng root (which is said to increase physical endurance), and fenugreek extract (believed to boost testosterone levels.
And here’s the thing: the results are fast and clean.
Taking just three capsules per day with water around 20 minutes prior to breakfast for at least two months, with 1.5 weeks off in between. you’ll already see huge results.
Your size will increase, your strength will be noticeably higher, and your stamina will give you the drive to keep pushing through your routines – as long as you combine with a proper diet and exercise.
Of course, if you’re going to go with the synthetic alternatives, there’s a lot of background information that you need to take into consideration first.
What Is HPTA Suppression?
Using exogenous, synthetic testosterone injections have many downsides, and one of these is a decrease in HPTA activity.
You might be wondering: what is HPTA suppression?
It all comes back to that feedback loop.
In fact, the entire purpose of taking steroids is to increase your testosterone levels to degrees that are not normally possible by the human body because they are too far away from its equilibrium.
In other words, you’re getting over the hump of negative feedback.
But some steroids are more estrogenic than others, meaning that aromatase enzymes will convert their testosterone into estrogen at higher degrees, causing a suppression of the HPTA axis.
So back to the question of what HPTA shutdown is.
Higher estrogen levels signal too much conversion, and your hypothalamus receives and sends these signals to your pituitary gland, decreasing the release of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone.
With these hormones not being secreted, Leydig cells cease testosterone production until a stable ratio of testosterone-to-estrogen is achieved.
HPTA Shutdown Symptoms
Symptoms of HPTA shutdown and suppression include:
Increased body fat
When taking anabolic steroids, many people will stack with testosterone (almost any form) to account for the inevitable testosterone suppression that occurs with most.
After the cycle, users will engage with a post-cycle therapy (PCT) to get levels back to normal.
HPTA Recovery After Steroids
During the process of HPTA suppression, compounds that prevent testosterone-to-estrogen conversion can curb HPTA axis shutdown and can also be used for HPTA recovery after steroids.
These drugs include:
In terms HPTA recovery time after shutdown, this can vary depending on the nature of your steroids and whether or not you use any of the drugs listed above to help during your HPTA Restart.
In general, your body will need at least a few weeks to get testosterone levels back to normal with a proper PCT that will depend on the steroid cycle you took initially.
You’re probably wondering if there are any supplements that you can take to prevent the shutdown of the HPTA axis.
Well, some may be helpful but not the full solution: vitamins B, D, and E are a great start, as are Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and Pregnenolone, which are base hormones that are required for the proper function of your hormonal systems.
You can also use aromatase inhibitors to keep estrogen levels low and prevent HPTA suppression symptoms, as well as well as Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) to cause interference at estrogen receptors and prevent hypothalamic dysfunction.
The complex relationship between steroids and the HPTA axis leaves a lot of room for dysfunction. Without the right knowledge, you can throw a wrench into your bodybuilding routine and ruin your potential results.
If you don’t think that you’re ready to take on this kind of commitment, consider natural alternatives from CrazyBulk to get compelling results without the possible side effects to your HPTA axis.