Male Libido & PEDs
TL:DR Again with the male only viewpoint. Estradiol plays a large role in determining libido, as does testosterone. Dopamine may be a factor for some people. Determining your hormone levels by blood test is the best way of identifying the issue, with the solution either time for SARM only cycles or SERM for cycle involving AAS.
The Role of Estradiol
423 male subjects who were receiving exogenous testosterone subjectively rated the quality of libido from 1-5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. This group was categorized into low or high estradiol (>5.0 ng/dl) and low or high testosterone (>300ng/dl). Men with high testosterone and high estradiol reported better libido compared to those in other categories, with high estradiol being the consistent theme through multiple avenues of analysis.
> Uh comic? 5.0 ng/dl is almost out of range. I don’t want no breasts.
This is to be interpreted more as an indicator as to the role that estradiol plays in male libido, rather than saying that high e2 levels are optimal.
Testosterone/estrogen ratio has no impact on libido (n=230).
High free test levels is correlated with a high sex drive, while high SHBG is correlated with low sex drive. This interaction is typically seen as people age, but as it relates to PEDs use we can see clear parallels in various compounds.
By week 5 of SARM only cycles, many users in /r/PEDs report low sex drive and/or the inability to get Mr. Happy to stand to attention. This contrasts with an increase in sex drive at the beginning of a cycle, which is in part due to a dopamine boost (see /u/not-a-painting and /u/nattyfuckfaceprevious articles on this topic), but also likely due to falling SHBG. SARMs significantly lower SHBGwhich corresponds with a temporary increase in free test, probably, until this too falls. Not all compounds will be the same in this regard, either, with Ostarine dramatically decreasing SHBG.
Unsurprisingly, while injecting test will also decrease SHBG, you will have higher free test levels at doses of 250mg per week or more. Therefore, for those running an AAS cycle this is not likely to be the cause of low libido.
The Role of Dopamine
In addition to e2, there is a dopaminergic reward system associated with love which drives the urge to procreate. Conversely, folks who have been rejected recently show activity in their brain that might otherwise be seen activated after losing money gambling. While love does not always have a direct relation to libido, love is a major driver that directs reproduction.
SERMs, such as tamoxifen and raloxifene is one solution if dopamine is the likely cause of low libido. Tamoxifen is an inhibitor of the dopamine antagonistic site of dopamine receptors. Further, tamoxifen increases the number of dopamine receptors being bound with 3Hspiperone. Or, in other words it helps the binding to dopamine receptors, and was found to lower depression levels to population averages in the target group (post-menopausal women). Raloxifene has a very different action, but with a similar neuro-protective outcome.
That all said, dopamine activity is more of a symptom - steroids, the natural kind in your body, not the stuff you boof, is the modulator of dopamine. For our purposes, dial in your hormone levels, and your libido should be qualititatively healthy.
What To Do
This will depend on where you are at in terms of cycle and the compounds you’re utilizing. Regardless of what route you follow, your best practice is to obtain a blood test.
On cycle using AAS: it’s most likely that your AI is not dialled in correctly. At the very least, you might try increasing or decreasing your AI until you find a dose that you feel most comfortable at. A blood test will help you dial in your e2 levels.
Off Cycle using AAS: you definitely need a blood test. Assuming you PCT’ed, something isn’t restarting like it ought to. You may need to PCT for longer and/or your SERM was underdosed/bunk.
On cycle using SARM only: viagra or cialis are options to restore ability. If you choose to discontinue the cycle, when your testosterone and estradiol levels recover to normal your libido will return.
Off cycle using SARM only: so it’s been the 35 or so days it takes for free test, SHBG, LH & FSH to return to baseline and Mr. Happy is still not co-operating. At this point, if you weren’t planning on getting a blood test, you need one. If you discover test and more importantly LH to be low once you get the results back, you should consider the use of a SERM or jumping on TRT. One of these choices may appeal to your more than the other, depending on where you’re at.
I caution SARM only users on using SERMs as a PCT. Every compound has side effects, and there is no benefit to adding in compounds for 4 weeks when 5 weeks of doing nothing will improve your hormones back to baseline. There are obviously easily accessible ED treatments that can be obtained through legit and not so legit channels. As always, your best bet is to obtain a blood test.