Tamoxifen Citrate (brand name Nolvadex) is another Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) that is often used as an anti-estrogen and post cycle therapy drug by anabolic steroid users.
The Selective aspect of the name of this class of drug is just that: they act on certain parts of the body only and as we will see, Nolvadex is very selective in its targeting of the breast tissue, making it valuable both medically and for steroids users concerned about certain side effects.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of steroids (PEDs).
In this guide, you'll learn:
What is Nolvadex?
The chemical compound and generic name of Nolvadex is Tamoxifen Citrate. It is available in tablet form and in dosages of 10mg or 20mg per tablet. This is prescription only medication that can not be bought over the counter.
Since Nolvadex was originally created as a breast cancer treatment drug, as we would expect it plays a powerful role in reducing the estrogen levels that allow cancer to progress in the breast area.
It does this by binding to estrogen receptors in that particular part of the body, so that the estrogen is unable to bind thereby reducing or eliminating the effect of estrogen on breast tissue – and it just so happens that this exact effect is what men using steroids are looking for to prevent the growth of breast tissue as a result of increased estrogen activity when using anabolic steroids.
Nolvadex doesn’t directly reduce estrogen levels in the body. Instead it binds to specific estrogen receptors so that the estrogen itself can not bind and therefore, the estrogen can’t act as it otherwise would.
While this works very well in the breast area, Nolvadex can actually be an estrogen agonist in other parts of the body which means it can act as estrogen, and this primarily effects the liver.
But before you become concerned about estrogen activity: this particular form is considered a positive because there’s a benefit for cholesterol when some estrogenic activity in the liver is occurring, and with some steroids having a negative effect on cholesterol, this bonus effect of Nolvadex is welcomed by steroid users.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modules (SERMs) vs Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs)
The two classes of drugs that you will see bodybuilders and performance athletes who use anabolic steroids (AAS) continually talk about are SERMs and Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs).
Both are valued and used for their beneficial effects in reducing or preventing estrogen related side effects of steroids and to assist with restoring testosterone function as part of post cycle therapy.
But what is the difference between these two types of drugs and which one really is the best to use to cover all your bases while you’re using steroids?
The big difference between SERMs and AIs is the way they act on the body and the way they affect estrogen. AIs are able to reduce estrogen levels in the body. SERMs on the other hand are targeted to certain parts of the body and only bind to estrogen receptors rather than actively lowering serum estrogen levels.
This means that SERMs are effective in controlling a wider range of steroid induced estrogenic side effects, whereas SERMs like Nolvadex, Clomid and Toremifene are only really effective at controlling gyno, because these drugs were developed to target breast tissue estrogen receptors.
AIs are useful for helping with water retention, while SERMs are not going to benefit you for that side effect. For these reasons, AIs such as Arimidex, Arimistane and Aromasin are often preferred by most bodybuilders, but SERMs certainly still have their place and are still used for specific purposes by steroid users.
For steroid users who are only concerned about gyno, then a SERM like Nolvadex can be all you need.
If you find that Nolvadex isn’t giving you the results you need, this is when guys will turn to AIs to really target a lowering of overall estrogen with the added bonus that you’ll be able to better control all other estrogen side effects in addition to gyno.
As the name suggests, Aromatase Inhibitors literally inhibit aromatizing activity. So those steroids that do aromatize need to have these effects addressed otherwise you get out of control estrogen conversion and rising estrogen levels, and lower testosterone levels. When AIs work to inhibit aromatase, effects like gyno are reduced and testosterone levels rise.
While AIs might sound like a magic pill, there are downsides to them that you need to be aware of though, particularly that they can negatively impact on cholesterol levels when they are used alongside aromatizing steroids. This makes AIs not so appealing for on-cycle use as Nolvadex or other SERMs, and as I mentioned earlier, Nolvadex can potentially bring about positive impacts on cholesterol.
Nolvadex for Gynecomastia
In its function as an anti-estrogen breast cancer treatment drug, Nolvadex targets the breast tissue and this means it’s highly useful for the prevention of dreaded gynecomastia in male anabolic steroid users. Because estrogen can cause cancer to progress in the breast area, when Nolvadex binds to estrogen receptors in this part of the body, it effectively halts the action of estrogen there.
This is exactly what we need to be also happening to stop gynecomastia occurring as an estrogen related negative effects of many AAS. Nolvadex has proven effective at this task which is why it is so popularly used alongside steroids and after a steroid cycle.
On cycle use of Nolvadex to protect against male breast enlargement is an established anabolic steroid user protocol. This drug works well for many people using it for this purpose, but not everyone will have the same positive results.
Using steroids which are powerfully aromatizing or being particularly sensitive to gyno can mean that Nolvadex won’t be enough to stop you experiencing gyno as a steroid side effect; in these cases you might need to turn to aromatase inhibitor drugs instead.
While Nolvadex used on cycle is important for controlling gyno, it will not have a positive effect on testosterone when it’s up against the powerful testosterone suppressing effects of most steroids and it’s only during post cycle therapy that Nolvadex is utilized for the purpose of boosting testosterone function.
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Nolvadex for Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)
Tamoxifen Citrate is very commonly used in post cycle therapy so that natural testosterone can be stimulated again after being suppressed by anabolic steroid use.
Nolvadex is known for its excellent ability to stimulate testosterone levels while blocking the effect of estrogen, enabling greater amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) to be released by the pituitary gland.
This hormone is critical for testosterone production and it’s here that Nolvadex is so powerful in kickstarting your normal testosterone function again so you can avoid the symptoms of low T, and enable the maintaining of your gains made on cycle.
Most users will require 4 weeks of Nolvadex for PCT, but longer or more powerful steroid cycles can often need to be followed up with 8 weeks of post cycle therapy combining Nolvadex with other drugs including aromatase inhibitors.
While it can be tempting for new users to make the mistake of increasing the dose of Nolvadex during post cycle therapy above the maximum recommended of 20mg daily, it’s well proven that there’s no benefit at all for your testosterone levels in doing this. That’s why an aromatase inhibitor and HCG are usually combined with Nolvadex during post cycle therapy to cover all bases.
Nolvadex Dosage During Anabolic Steroid Use
The primary, and for most of us the only reason to use Nolvadex during a steroid cycle is to protect against male breast tissue enlargement – a.k.a gynecomastia. Any anabolic-androgenic steroids you are taking which have aromatizing properties will need gyno to be addressed and Nolvadex provides a cheap, simple and safe way to do that.
It only takes a low dosage of 10mg to 20mg per day of Nolvadex to protect against gyno as it works to bind to receptors in the breast tissue so that estrogen can’t exert its effects here. If you find that the aromatizing effect of the steroids you’re taking are too powerful for Nolvadex to be effective at this dosage then aromatase inhibitor drugs will likely be required instead.
Female Nolvadex Dosage
When females use Nolvadex for performance enhancement it is often used for just that: to enhance performance as a result of increased testosterone levels. This can make Nolvadex a viable alternative for women not wanting the more powerful effects of steroids that bring high risk of masculinization side effects.
Aside from performance enhancement, women can make use of Nolvadex to improve the physique with this drug bringing about a leaner and tighter physique without the associated risks of steroids. For all of these effects, females require a very low dosage of Nolvadex with just 10mg per day being sufficient.
Nolvadex Dosage for PCT and Increased Endogenous Testosterone Secretion
During PCT we use Nolvadex at higher dosages to stimulate the release of natural testosterone following severe suppression of normal function after during and after steroid use.
A cycle of 4 to 8 weeks is always advised for post cycle therapy, and often other compounds will be utilized alongside Nolvadex including an aromatase inhibitor and often Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG).
When it comes to Nolvadex dosage for post cycle therapy, whether you are undertaking either a 4 or 8 week cycle or something in between, the recommended dose for the majority of men is 40mg per day for the first half of your PCT cycle, dropping this down to 20mg per day for the second half of PCT.
The timing of your post cycle therapy starting depends on the active life of your steroids: short ester steroids will need you to start PCT within just days of ending your steroid cycle, while long acting steroids require you to wait up to two or three weeks before starting post cycle therapy with Nolvadex and other compounds.
Nolvadex Side Effects
As a breast cancer treating SERM for women, most of the side effects recorded for Nolvadex apply to its use in this area and in females. But, as it’s a long standing drug used by male anabolic steroid users, enough anecdotal evidence and personal experience exists to pinpoint some of the side effects that tend to be more common amongst males when the drug is used for this purpose, while in other cases we can eliminate many of the side effects that are listed for Nolvadex for women using it to treat breast cancer.
Not only is the female body reacting different to the drug, but when it’s used as cancer medication it is a much longer term use compared with guys using it to reduce estrogen side effects while on steroids or during post cycle therapy to restore testosterone function. Therefore these long term side effects can also be virtually eliminated as it relates to your use of Nolvadex.
So what are some of the main possible long term side effects you should be on the look out for when using Nolvadex either on-cycle or during post cycle therapy?
- Acne – While not particularly common in terms of how many people get it, out of all the potential side effects from Nolvadex acne is considered the most likely. This is because of the way that your testosterone will start increasing and acne is just a natural effect of rising testosterone levels in some men; not all guys are predisposed to acne and if you’re not, then you’re unlikely to experience this side effect. Those that do experience acne find that it is usually mild and goes away once the drug is stopped.
- Nausea or Cramping of the Abdomen – This is considered a very rare side effect that the vast majority of men will never experience with Nolvadex, but the small possibility is there.
Side effects that are known to affect women using Nolvadex for cancer medication include impairment of cognitive function, hot flashes and even other types of cancer; but these are not known to be a risk factor at all for men using this drug for performance enhancing purposes.
The best way to reduce or basically eliminate your risk of long term side effects when using Nolvadex is to keep the dosage at sensible levels. Since there is no benefit in consuming higher than established dosages when using Nolvadex for bodybuilding purposes, maintaining the correct dose is of the utmost benefit for both your results and your health.
Does Nolvadex increase testosterone?
Nolvadex is capable of stimulating testosterone levels by stimulating the release of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary, which is a hormone that’s required for testosterone production.
So indirectly, Nolvadex can play a role in testosterone production but when it is being used in conjunction with powerful anabolic-androgenic steroids that have very strong testosterone suppressing characteristics, the mild effect of Nolvadex is not going to override the way steroids suppress your testosterone and therefore this is not the intended use of Nolvadex during a cycle; but this luteinizing hormone stimulating function is certainly beneficial during your use of Nolvadex for post cycle therapy.
Is Nolvadex an estrogen blocker?
As a SERM, Nolvadex blocks estrogen very selectively at specific sites in the body. It is not a blocker of circulating estrogen throughout the entire body. Instead it only targets the breast tissue (where it was specifically formulated to do so for the purpose of fighting breast cancer) and here it targets receptors and physically blocks those receptors so estrogen can not bind to them – and this is when the estrogen can’t act out its normal function in the case of either feeding breast cancer cells or for men using steroids, it stops the growth or enlargement of breast tissue so you don’t develop gynecomastia while on cycle.
Does Tamoxifen cause weight gain?
Because weight gain is such a common effect of most cancer treatments, women using tamoxifen might suspect that the drug is contributing to weight gain but there is no specific evidence that this can happen. In any case, this drug’s use as a cancer treatment can last for five or even ten years, compared to anabolic steroid users who only take Nolvadex for several weeks at a time where any serious side effects are mostly unheard of.
What about muscle gain? Another question users of Nolvadex might have is whether it can actually be attributed to muscular gain, but this assumption can come about because of the testosterone stimulating ability of this drug because of the way it stimulates luteinizing hormone release, and testosterone contributes to muscle growth.
Will Nolvadex get rid of gyno?
I’d go with 0.5mg/eod Arimidex or 10mg per day Nolvadex. If any symptoms of gyno appear, discontinue the cycle and use 1mg/day Arimidex (or 2.5mg/day Letrozole) until symptoms subside. Use this rule with any cycle if you get symptoms of gyno. Early symptoms of gyno will be sensitive or itchy nipples, or a small lump under the nipple.
Using Nolvadex throughout your anabolic steroid is usually enough to prevent the formation of gyno unless you are using particularly powerful steroids for long periods of time.
Prevention is better than treatment when it comes to gyno so taking a proactive approach rather than waiting for any symptoms of breast growth to happen is critical. For mild cases of gyno, most men can eliminate it by proper exercise and diet.
Nolvadex is effective during a cycle because of the raised estrogen levels caused by steroids and decreased testosterone levels as a result of aromatization; but taking Nolvadex when your T levels are back to normal and when you don’t have increased estrogen activity is unlikely to do anything for existing gyno; instead the focus should be on serious working out and waiting for the gyno to decrease on its own.
But if you’ve let the growth progress so far that it won’t recede on its own well after you’ve finished a steroid cycle, surgery might be your only option because Nolvadex or any other SERM will not get rid of gyno in these cases.
Does Tamoxifen affect sleep?
Another listed side effect of Tamoxifen Citrate (brand name Nolvadex) amongst women using it for breast cancer treatment is impairment of sleep and more specifically, night sweats which can bring about difficulty in sleeping well.
Again, this is a reaction that is not really known to affect men taking Nolvadex as a steroid user mainly because the period of time that the drug is being taken are close to the length of time that it’s used to treat breast cancer.
Does Tamoxifen cause brain fog?
One of the noted side effects of Nolvadex for women using it for breast cancer is changes to some mental processes like memory and concentration. But this has shown to only affect females taking the drug over long periods of time for medical purposes, so brain fog and other brain related side effects are not known to affect anabolic steroid users who take Nolvadex.
What does Nolvadex do for bodybuilders?
There are two things that Nolvadex does for bodybuilders that makes it so valued: it helps to reduce or prevent male breast enlargement while you’re using steroids that cause this condition, and it works during post cycle therapy to get your normal testosterone function back on track so you can avoid the distressing symptoms of low testosterone. These are the two core areas that Nolvadex is used for by bodybuilders.
Does Tamoxifen cause water retention?
Edema or fluid retention is a commonly listed side effect for the drug when it’s used for medical purposes but there is no evidence that this happens with steroid users who make use of this drug.
How much does Tamoxifen cost?
The average cost in the United States for Nolvadex on prescription when bought from a local pharmacy is about $60-$80 for a box of 60 tablets of 10mg. This is more than enough for most post cycle therapy usage purposes where one tablet is taken per day. Prices in other countries will differ.
In the USA it’s possible to purchase Nolvadex and other prescription medications through research companies so this is one option that bodybuilders consider. Others may look to the black market or alternative online pharmacy websites which are often based overseas.
In general, Nolvadex is considered to be a widely available SERM that is relatively easy to acquire and one that is very affordable. Certainly, when compared to the money you are likely to spend on steroids, the cost of Nolvadex is minuscule especially when considering the important role is plays in your results.
Will Nolvadex help prevent testicular atrophy while cruising on Testosterone (at TRT levels)?
Nolvadex will help normalizing your endogenous testosterone production, so yes it will help. However if you are that worried about your balls shrinking during cycle you could use HCG to reverse those adverse effects.
My Conclusion and Recommendation
Often used alongside Clomid, Nolvadex is a female breast cancer treatment drug that suppresses estrogen which helps get your testosterone levels back where they need to be. Side effects risk with Nolvadex is minimal compared to Clomid which makes it a popular option and most steroid users will use it for PCT for about 4-8 weeks.
If you enjoyed this guide and would like more real, NO-BS information on cycling steroids, then pick up Straight From the Underground (my recommended underground steroid handbook). Everything in this book is based on first hand experience, not theory.