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Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) PCT 101: The Bodybuilder’s Guide

Discover the benefits and side effects of Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) for PCT, including dosing recommendations, buying options, and more.
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Disclaimer: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of PEDs.

Nolvadex is a name every steroid user will be familiar with; there would hardly be a modern-day bodybuilder who hasn’t used the Nolvadex SERM at some point. For most of us, this is a must-have staple in the bag, ready to go both during and after a cycle.

But what makes Nolvadex so essential and so valuable for any male who uses anabolic steroids? And how does it compare to other SERMs and alternative options that we have for on-cycle and PCT support? Check out all this and more in my guide on Nolvadex. Let’s get into it!

What is Nolvadex?

Nolvadex is one of the most well-known and widely used ancillary drugs in bodybuilding.

Nolvadex SERM
Nolvadex SERM

Its benefits cover both on-cycle and PCT use, and for most of us, this SERM is going to be of the most value when it’s utilized for PCT purposes.

While you might be wondering whether every SERM is exactly the same and whether it really matters if you use Nolvadex or a different one, the fact is that each SERM does work slightly differently and will give you a different experience.

Nolvadex is one SERM you will want to seriously consider if you’re still on the fence about which one to use.

History and Overview

Nolvadex’s development goes right back to the 1960s for medical use, initially for the treatment of breast cancer and later for the prevention of that cancer. Other medical uses were later discovered where Nolvadex proved to be effective:

  • Infertility in females with certain medical conditions
  • Infertility in males

The use of Nolvadex for male infertility is directly related to why and how we use Nolvadex in a PCT setting. And here’s something you might not have known: Nolvadex is so effective that it has a place on the Model List of Essential Medicines by the World Health Organization.

Mechanism of Action

Like all SERMs, Nolvadex is selective in its targeting of estrogen receptors, and therefore, it will NOT lower your total estrogen levels (as an AI drug does).

Specifically in breast tissue, Nolvadex will target and block the estrogen receptors there so that the estrogen is unable to bind to the receptors (inhibiting the growth of cancers and also preventing gynecomastia).

Think about it:

Nolvadex effectively takes the place of estrogen in breast tissue – precisely where we need it to be to stop dreaded gyno on cycle.

Separate to this is Nolvadex’s mechanisms of action in stimulating testosterone production through its ability to stimulate the essential precursors to testosterone: Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).

These two mechanisms of activity are conveniently incredibly useful to steroid-using bodybuilders, resulting in Nolvadex’s long-term popularity for PCT and gynecomastia prevention.

Effects of Nolvadex (Benefits) for Men

Nolvadex has very specific and limited benefits for men, but don’t let the small number of benefits fool you: Nolvadex is VERY effective at providing some of the critical support we need as steroid users.

Gynecomastia Prevention

The one and only reason we will use Nolvadex during a steroid cycle is to either completely prevent gyno from developing or as a measure to reverse the first signs of gyno if they begin to show at any point in the cycle.

As you will know, the quicker we address the onset of gyno development (usually a tingling feeling or puffiness of the nipples), the less chance there is of it continuing to develop.

Nolvadex works well at protecting against gyno but is not going to be helpful in preventing that other unwanted estrogenic side effect: water retention.

Testosterone Stimulation

Nolvadex is valued for PCT purposes thanks to its ability to speed up the recovery of your natural testosterone production after it has been suppressed or shut down by anabolic steroids. Waiting for a natural testosterone recovery can take many months; in the meantime, you’ll suffer severe symptoms of low testosterone.

Nolvadex’s core function as a PCT drug is to stimulate the release of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). LH is what stimulates the testicles to produce testosterone, while FSH stimulates the production of sperm.

Cholesterol Support

Nolvadex can provide some bonus support to your cholesterol, which might be taking a hit from steroids. Tamoxifen can reduce LDL and total cholesterol, although you shouldn’t rely solely on this SERM for your on-cycle cholesterol support.

What are Estrogen Blockers?

The primary function of SERMs and their original reason for being developed is to block the estrogen hormone from binding to receptors in the cells of breast cancer so that the cancer is unable to multiply and spread.

Unlike aromatase inhibitors, which work to lower overall estrogen levels, SERMs are selective. So what a SERM like Nolvadex does is cause different effects on different types of cells.

As steroid-using bodybuilders, our greatest interest in using Nolvadex on cycle is to take advantage of its targeting of breast cells to prevent and reverse the symptoms of gynecomastia. The great thing about Nolvadex is that it can do this WITHOUT crashing your entire estrogen levels.

SERMs will also activate estrogen in the cells of other areas – bone, for example. Despite some earlier studies showing the opposite effect, later data revealed that Nolvadex was found to prevent bone loss and decrease osteoporosis risk significantly[1].

We’re not through yet:

Obviously, the other reason we’re interested in SERMs like Nolvadex is because of their ability to stimulate testosterone production after a suppressive steroid cycle, as it promotes the release of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.

Nolvadex for PCT

Nolvadex has been a staple in PCT protocols for as long as I can remember – and even longer than that! Few bodybuilders who regularly use steroids could claim never to have used Nolvadex.

It’s not the only useful PCT drug, but it sure is one that you’ll want to keep a steady supply of because Nolvadex has its place in just about any PCT cycle. It can be used on its own for mild to moderate suppression but is often utilized alongside hCG and even Clomid for dual SERM benefits.


Nolvadex does its job very well at low to moderate doses. If you’ve ever used the other popular SERM Clomid, then you’ll quickly notice that we only require a comparatively lower dose of Nolvadex to achieve similar benefits.

As a female breast cancer treatment and preventative, Nolvadex would usually be prescribed at no more than 20mg per day. This is a powerful SERM, and simply put, we will use a similar dosage for both on-cycle and PCT use of Nolvadex:

Nolvadex Dosage On-cycle

20mg daily of Nolvadex is all we should need for protection against the onset of gyno.

Although it can be tempting to raise your dose if gyno symptoms do start developing, what you should know is this: Increasing your Nolvadex dosage is not going to result in better outcomes in protecting you from gyno or water retention, but it will raise your risk of side effects.

So, if you’re not getting the effects you expected at 20mg/day, it’s time to look at using an AI for your anti-estrogenic on-cycle needs.

Regardless of your dosage, you should always keep in mind that Nolvadex (or any SERM) won’t address the issue of water retention, and for that, you WILL need an aromatase inhibitor.

Nolvadex Dosage for PCT

The standard way of using Nolvadex for PCT is to start at a higher dose, which you maintain for between 50% and 75% of the PCT cycle, then halve the dose for the remaining time.

The highest recommended dose is 40mg per day. This can be run for 2-3 weeks, followed by a reduction to 20mg for the final 1 to 2 weeks. Some PCT cycles will use Nolvadex at a lower dose: 20mg for three weeks, followed by 10mg in the final week.

There is no known benefit to taking any more than 40mg of Nolvadex to stimulate testosterone production. I have heard of some guys taking 60mg daily, although I wouldn’t recommend it.

Dosing Schedule, Half-life, and PCT Length

The elimination half-life of Nolvadex can be anywhere from 5 to 7 days[2]. As it is not classed as a performance-enhancing drug, the half-life will not likely be of concern regarding drug testing. Where it does matter is how often we administer Nolvadex.

But here’s the thing: Nolvadex is still taken on a daily basis despite its long half-life. Depending on how suppressive your steroid cycle was, a standard PCT cycle length will be 4 to 6 weeks to allow a full HPTA recovery.

Proper Administration and Timing

If you’re taking Nolvadex on cycle, you’ll be taking it daily starting on day 1 of your steroid use. The timing of starting your PCT is going to depend wholly on the steroids you’ve used and THEIR individual half-life.

Your first Nolvadex PCT dose will typically start about two weeks after the last injection of a long-acting steroid like Testosterone Enanthate. If you’ve used a fast-acting oral steroid as the final AAS in your cycle, then you’ll want to begin your Nolvadex PCT one to two days after your final dose.

I’ve heard of guys splitting the dose into morning and evening administration. However, I believe once daily is fine, and it makes little difference whether you take Nolva in the morning or afternoon or on a full or empty stomach.

Nolvadex vs. Other PCT Options

Nolvadex is one of the best SERM options we have for PCT. In fact, many people will argue it’s the best SERM for this purpose. But it’s not the only option, and we’re very fortunate these days to have several different SERMs and other types of drugs for PCT use.

How does Nolvadex compare to Clomid, Arimidex and Toremifene?

Nolvadex vs. Clomid

These two most popular SERMs can provide a very different user experience.

Clomid SERM
Clomid SERM

Without a doubt, Clomid induces more side effects and more severe side effects in most users. But in terms of usefulness, we will find Nolvadex is far more effective for on-cycle anti-gyno use than Clomid is.

Both are excellent PCT compounds, although some will find Clomid to be a stronger stimulator of testosterone. This is an individual preference, and ultimately, many guys will combine Clomid and Nolvadex in PCT to cover all bases.

If mental and visual-related side effects are of great concern to you, then Nolvadex will be the better option.

Nolvadex vs. Toremifene

Toremifene is a lesser-known SERM that has a very similar chemical structure to Nolvadex.

Toremifene SERM
Toremifene SERM

Some steroid users will interchange these two SERMs, indicating their similarity. Studies have shown the two are very similar in their safety and effectiveness for medical purposes[3].

Toremifene effectively reduces gyno flare-ups, and I’ve heard of guys who were satisfied with using it instead of Nolvadex. The main issue with Toremifene is that it’s almost always a lot more expensive than Nolvadex, is nowhere near as widely available, and is known to be faked.

Around ten years ago, Toremifene saw a spike in popularity among steroid users, but this seems to have decreased significantly recently. However, this is merely due to the reduced availability of Toremifene compared to Nolvadex and not due to its lack of effectiveness.

Some guys will go so far as to say Toremifene is the best PCT SERM – if you can get your hands on it.

Nolvadex vs. Arimidex

Arimidex works very differently from Nolvadex because it prevents the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, lowering total circulating estrogen levels. While this is very useful for preventing estrogenic side effects, it does come with downsides for male users.

Arimidex Aromatase Inhibitor
Arimidex Aromatase Inhibitor

As an AI, Arimidex is much more effective at providing you with on-cycle support to combat estrogenic side effects (gynecomastia and water retention) compared to Nolvadex.

Why is Arimidex better on-cycle than Nolvadex?

Because Nolvadex does not inhibit estrogen conversion or lower your total estrogen levels like Arimidex, it will have no impact on water retention as Tamoxifen directly targets breast cells. Arimidex can crash estrogen levels and negatively impact cholesterol levels, so it must be used cautiously.

SERMs like Nolvadex are preferable for PCT and should be your first choice over Arimidex for testosterone recovery. Nolvadex is drastically better at stimulating testosterone, and you will rarely come across a bodybuilder who believes an AI should be used instead of a SERM for PCT.

Nolvadex Side Effects in Men

Every drug on earth will cause side effects in some users, and Nolvadex is no exception. However, most men will find that Nolvadex causes fewer negative effects than Clomid, and countless guys use Tamoxifen with no noticeable side effects at the recommended doses.

Some of the side effects that bodybuilders have reported anecdotally when using Nolvadex are not listed in the medical literature. Again, individual response and any interactions with other drugs being used can influence your own personal experience with Nolvadex.

The side effects in men that I’m aware of or have experienced with Nolvadex include:

Brain Fog

An annoying side effect is brain fog or mental exhaustion. Forgetting things, having trouble getting your thoughts together, or struggling to focus are issues that some Nolvadex users seem to develop.

It’s difficult to tell how common this side effect is because not all users will report it, and some will put it down to other reasons like the effects of the steroids, hormonal issues, or other potential causes without being able to pinpoint it being caused by Nolvadex.

Decreased IGF-1

Nolvadex has been shown to decrease this essential anabolic hormone in some medical patients. Few people will find this noticeable, particularly as we mainly use Nolvadex for very short periods[4].

Blurred Vision

Visual sides are much more likely with Clomid, but I have heard a few users of Nolvadex complain of this side effect. However, it is short-lived and disappears after the use of Nolvadex.

Liver Toxicity

Nolvadex is an oral drug that comes with a small amount of stress to the liver (although this won’t be comparable to the type of liver toxicity caused by most oral steroids). You can consider extending your liver support plan throughout PCT if any toxicity from Nolvadex is of concern.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Some studies found an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and blood clots in women using Nolvadex. Although not considered common, you might reconsider your use of Tamoxifen if this condition runs in your family.

Where to Buy Nolvadex?

Nolvadex is not a difficult drug to buy; just about all of us will have no trouble finding it for sale online anywhere in the world. The good news is that it’s also a very affordable product, and it’s going to add only a tiny amount to the overall cost of your steroid cycle.

Availability of Nolvadex

Nolvadex is one of the easiest compounds you’ll ever have to buy. Because suppliers know it’s possibly the most commonly used ancillary drug, virtually all of them will stock it.

Both pharmaceutical-grade and underground lab versions are available. Obviously, pharma grade is always the preferable choice if you can get hold of it. Black market Nolvadex will typically be pharma grade or generic versions obtained from countries where it is easily purchased over the counter.

Counterfeit Nolvadex is not known to be much of an issue due to this drug’s low cost and wide availability.

Nolvadex is a prescription drug in countries with medical approval, including the United States. This means Nolvadex is legal to buy and use – with a valid doctor’s prescription.

It is not a prohibited or controlled substance, so it doesn’t attract the same legal enforcement as anabolic steroids. In other words, if you’re found to possess Nolvadex, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be asked to reveal your prescription.

In terms of the legalities that steroid users face, Nolvadex is unlikely to cause you any stress or issues with authorities. In some countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, you’ll find that Nolvadex is not a prescription drug and can be bought easily over the counter.

Typical Pricing

Nolvadex is not expensive, no matter if you’re buying it from an underground lab or pharmaceutical grade. Expect to pay a little more for genuine pharma-grade products, but it’s still going to be a low-cost drug in comparison to most other purchases you make as a steroid user.

  • Most pharmaceutical-grade Nolvadex products are sold in tablets of 20mg strength.
  • On a per-tablet basis, you can expect to pay anywhere from $0.70 at the low end to $2 per tablet.
  • Underground lab tablets will cost slightly less, but a budget of around $1 per day per 20mg tablet is a reasonable expectation.

Although most of us won’t be looking at liquid forms of Nolvadex from research chemical labs, they are another option if you’re unable to find Nolvadex tablets, and a 30ml bottle or RCL Tamoxifen can be bought from $35 or so.

Final Thoughts

Nolvadex has a place in the bag of every steroid user. Very few of us could claim never to have used this SERM. Personally, I much prefer it over Clomid. You can use it effectively at a lower dose, and it definitely gives me fewer side effects troubles than Clomid. Plus, it works much better for gyno prevention than Clomid does if you want to avoid using AIs.

In a nutshell:

Nolvadex is so affordable and useful that it’s an ancillary that I always keep a supply of, and so does just about every other bodybuilder I know. It’s excellent for PCT use alongside other ancillaries (especially hCG), and I’m confident that it’s going to give you the PCT recovery we all need with minimal side effects.


— Furious Joe

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Joe Robles a.k.a Furious Joe

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What I talk about here is something I've done. From anabolic steroids to SARMs to peptides and ancillary drugs, I've done it at some point in my life, and I can relate.

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