Hormone Recovery - 5 Weeks of hell

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I am not ashamed or embarrased about my drug use in the past. I learned many lessons and it shaped who I am today. Back when I was using, it wasn't to cheat, it was an accepted part of the sport and I there were really only untested federations back then. I was also young and stupid and thought I was invincible. I tend got married, got older, and had a kid. It changes you. It makes you think more about your future, and how healthy you will be in that future. 

Long ago are the days of me getting oiled up and flexing in front of a bunch of strangers. But my sins of the past had come back to haunt me shortly after I got married. I never wanted kids when I was younger. I enjoyed being selfish and didn't see the point. That was until we got married. Now I had someone else to worry about, and I wanted to be around for as long as I could. Health started to become more important than aesthetics. 

I stopped all steroids before we got married. Then the unthinkable happened. I actually wanted children. We decided to try and conceive. It was fun in the beginning, then it started to be very stressful and alot less fun. It wasn't happening. We decided to go to a fertility centre. Since having my sperm tested was much easier than having her eggs tested I went first. After an awkward handoff of my sample cup to the analyst and a weeks wait I got the results. 

The doctor said I had 667 sperm / ml (or some measurement), I had not reference so I asked him if that was good or not. It turns out, men normally have 15-20 million. I was WAY below the required levels. We had a choice of invitro, which was very expensive, or wait it out and see if things improve. I had used on and off for the better part of a decade and had only been off for a year or two. We waited. It didn't improve, and besides the cost of in vitro there were also health risks. 

Miraculously we got pregnant, but there was a miscarriage before the end of the first tri-mester. It was devastating, we thought it would never happen again. But we kept trying. After almost 3 years we finally conceived and had a beautiful son. It doesnt matter what I do with the rest of my life, nothing will compare to that moment. It is the proudest achievement of my life. 

After we conceived I went to an endocrinologist to see what my options were. My testosterone levels were almost non existent. They actually made me redo a test because they thought they had messed it up. My levels were barely detectable. Low testosterone has a host of health issues as well as you feel and perform like crap when they are in the tank. 

It took almost a year of trying various pills and creams to get my levels to low normal. I was not happy with that level, but the endocrinologist didn't want to even discuss the option of raising my levels to mid-range normal. Little known fact, the Canadian government classifies perscription testosterone the same as a abuse potential narcotic. So it is part of the narcotics monitoring program. This means you need to show ID to pick up your perscription, you cannot renew it even a day early, and its almost impossible to renew it at another pharmacy. This makes travel especially fun. I have never heard of anyone abusing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), it would be cheaper and more effective to just buy it off the black market. 

After several years on TRT I wasn't happy with the results. I was expecting this great feeling of strength, vigour, and machismo. Nothing, I felt literally nothing. Maybe I felt unusually good for having low testosterone, or perhaps my expectations of what it would do to me were unrealistic. Plus the hassle of having to cover myself in a gel everyday, which can cross contaminate my son or wife, even my bedsheets and dirty clothes had to be avoided by them. It gold old fast. 

I have never been a fan of perscription medication. I am not saying I never use it. I loved antibiotics when I was in septic shock from an infection and needed a PIC line of antibiotics injected several times a day directly into my heart. For acute care, modern medicine is a godsend. But it is my opinion that too many people depend on medication for chronic problems. Nowadays many primary care physicians simply listen to your symptom then assign you a pill or cream that will get rid of the naggin symptom. The problem is it doesn't usually address the problem. 

Chris Kressor, whom you must follow, had a great analogy for this. If you have a rock in your shoe that is causing you pain, that is a symptom. Most doctors nowadays will perscribe you a pain killer so the rock doesn't hurt your foot anymore. Whereas a holistic doctor will find our what is causing the pain and remove the rock. In the end, both clients are happy, but one has an actual solution. 

It was the fist time I had a long term persription. I know many people are used to taking many pills, but not me. This worried me a bit. Thinking about myself when I was 60 or 70 still having to apply this gel. What if I can't, what effects will it have on me later in life? I decided to talk to some progressive doctors about how to recover my body. 

I will not disclose the name of the doctor who I consulted with as he already has a lot of government pressure on him for perscribing certain medication for off-label use. He thought I could get everything back to normal, despite being completely shut down before I had started 3 years of TRT. He warned me it would not be easy, i doubted him. 

It was a 5 week protocol. I will not post the exact protocol on here as it is a fairly specific protocol that will easily idenfify the said doctor. But if you are in the same boat as me I can put you in touch. This is not something that should be done on your own or without doctor supervision. The protocol required me to be off all testosterone for 2 weeks before starting. I had an upcoming vacation so I figured that would be the best time to start. 

The first two weeks were fine, like I said, I think I am one of the rare ones who feels pretty good with low testosterone. Then the posst cycle therapy (PCT) started. It involved two injections which had to be done every 2-3 days, plus a huge barage of perscription and non-perscription pills that had to be taken. One of them, clomiphene citrate (clomid), is often used for women with fertifiliy problems. It helps stimulate the ovaries to release an egg, but in men, it triggers the testicles to start producing testosterone. This is definitely off-label perscription. There are plenty of forums online of women thinking they are going crazy taking this pill. It really messes with your hormones and your mind. This is in a woman, pretty sure it messes men up even more. 

After the protocol started, it was the worst 5 weeks of my life, and I spent several months bed-ridden in a hospital debating to amputate my leg and severe strep infection leading to sepctic shock, all without any narcotics. I would do that again over going through this PCT again. There were no physical issues, all emotional and mental. 

I had never been depressed in my life, logically I knew the cause. That didn't help. I tried to talk my way down saying its only 5 weeks, take it a day at a time. It was hard to even take it an hour at a time. I was wondering if it was all worth it, continous self-doubt, but I perservered. 

It probably took another week or two after I finished to get back to normal. The blood work came back, and I was within normal ranges. I was excstatic! The first time since my mid 20s that my hormone panel came back normal. It was on the low side, but it was almost the same level as when I was on TRT. I will gladly take that. The boys are back up and running and I am not on any perscriptions, even happier. 

I am now experimenting with some natural methods to lower the SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) to increase my free testosterone. Basically your free testosterone is what really matters. SHBG binds to your testosterone and makes it not as useful. If you can lower the SHBG you thus increase free testosterone. So you are not really raising your testosterone, you are just making what you have work better.  Once I am done I will put up a blog post about it. 

Before you take anything that messes with your hormones, think long and hard about the future ramifications. If I would have red something like this years ago, I am not sure I would have listened, but at least I would have been warned. Wisdom comes through learning from experience, and I hope to pass it on. 

Yours in health, 
   Coach E

Crossfit Bytown