Running a cycle without blood work is like flying a plane on a moonless night without any instruments. Why would you want to do that when getting blood work is so easy and cheap (in most of the United States at least)?

If you are going to run a cycle, you should get Pre-Cycle, Mid-Cycle and Post-Cycle blood work. Additionally, anytime you run into a problem during your cycle it is always a good idea to run blood work. I cannot tell you how many guys put up posts about how they have this symptom or that symptom and they want us to diagnose them through the internet based entirely on their description of how they feel. Don't be one of those guys. Give us something objective to work with.

So why get pre-cycle blood work? You only have one chance to see what your hormones look like while you are 100% natty. Don't screw up and miss this opportunity. This is your baseline. This is what you can go back and compare to during and/or after your cycle to troubleshoot issues and know if you have recovered completely.

Mid-Cycle blood work lets you see how you are responding to your cycle and allows you to make adjustments to your protocol. Is your estradiol too high or too low requiring an AI dosage adjustment? Is your TT low indicating that your gear is watered down? Is your hematocrit too high meaning it is time to donate blood? How is your liver looking? How about your kidneys? Prolactin or estradiol related ED problems? Is your cholesterol ok? Did you get the pre-cycle blood work to compare against?

Post-Cycle blood work allows you to see if you have recovered from your cycle. Is you HPTA working again? TT, LH, FSH and Estradiol back to normal? Need to make one more blood donation? If you are having ED or libido problems is there anything in your blood work that is off and could be causing it?

At a minimum, run the following blood work each time:

-Complete Blood Count (CBC)
-Meta-bolic Panel (CMP)
-LH
-FSH
-TT
-E2 (Sensitive assay is best, but most guys run the Regular Assay to save money. See later FAQ on these assays)
-If you are going to run a 19-nor you should check Prolactin.
-If you are going to use T3, you should check TSH.

So where can you get blood work run in the US? First of all, I do not recommend going through your doctor. You do not want AAS usage in your medical record. This could make it difficult to obtain things like life insurance in the future. And it may make getting treated for certain conditions more difficult later in your life should problems arise. It can even be difficult to get your doc to run all the pre-cycle blood work you want as you will have to lie about why you want them.

Private Blood Work is available in most US States. It is fast, cheap and accurate. Only you will see the results unless you choose to share them with someone else. They will not go to your doctor or insurance company. You do have to pay out of pocket though. There are many services available to you on the internet. Many of us use the following two, but feel free to go wherever you like. I have no financial interest in these companies so it doesn't matter to me.

For Pre and Post Cycle blood work, or anytime you are not running AAS, I recommend using Private MD - Buy Lab Tests Online as it is cheaper and faster than the next one. You can get the Hormone Panel for Females to get your CBC, CMP, LH, FSH, TT and E2 (regular assay) for about $54 if you use their 15% off coupon code. Even though the name says Females, it is for men too. Read the description and you will see this is true. Sign up for their weekly newsletter and they will email the coupon code to you. If you cannot wait, search the internet for a code, or just look at the top right corner of their website and they will give you an automatic 10% discount. Results are generally available in 24-48 hours. If you would like to also see your Lipids, Thyroid Profile (including TSH) and get the Sensitive E2 assay, I recommend spending more for the Hormone Panel for Males. This one will cost you about $146 after the discount. This panel usually takes about 7 days to get the results back. Unfortunately, none of the panels include Prolactin, so you will have to add that one a la carte.

For Mid-Cycle blood work, I recommend using LabsMD - Simple and Secure Lab Tests Online. Again, you want to get the Hormone Panel for Females. There is one key difference. The Private MD Labs panels only report TT up to 1500ng/dl. Anything above that and it just tells you that it is >1500. When you are running a cycle, it is nice to know just how high your TT really is so you can see how good your gear is. And most cycle-sized doses of Testosterone will put you well about 1500ng/dl. Fortunately the Labs MD panel doesn't have a cutoff. It will tell you the exact result. However, it does cost more at about $73. And to the best of my knowledge, there are no coupon codes available.

So I have mentioned that there are different assays for testing Estradiol (E2). What it really comes down to is their level of accuracy at lower levels. The Regular E2 assay is really good at measuring the higher E2 levels found in women, but not as accurate at the lower E2 levels found in men. It is better to get the Sensitive E2 assay if you are male, but it costs more and takes longer to get the results. A lot of guys just get the Regular Assay, but you need to make adjustments to the results. Anecdotally, we have found that it is often 10-20pg/ml points higher than the Sensitive Assay. So you need to subtract 10-20 points from your result.

Most guys like their Sensitive Assay estradiol to come in between 20-40pg/ml. So if you get the Regular Assay, you should look for it to be between 30-60pg/ml. Please note that everyone is different though so you may prefer a different sweet spot. And the 10-20 point bias may not apply to you. Finally, the higher the E2 result from the Regular assay, the more accurate it is likely to be.

I should also note that a lot of guys get confused about the difference between estradiol and Total Estrogen. There are three types of estrogen: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). Estradiol is by far the most potent form of the estrogens so it is the one we worry about. It is said to be 80 times more potent than estriol for example.