Testosterone Propionate By John Stone
In the late 1800’s Arnold Adolph Berthold discovered Testosterone during castration experiments done on fowl . Further research took place in the early 1900’s, which led to a better understanding of this androgenic (masculine) hormone. But until someone could figure out a way to esterify (attach a molecule which makes the active hormone last longer in the bloodstream) the father of all anabolic/androgenic steroids, most of the hopes of using Testosterone as a restorative hormone were all but abandoned. Then the German pharmaceutical giant Schering figured out how to attach the propionate ester, which meant that Testosterone levels would stay elevated longer, and remain even-keeled. Since 1937, many ester variations of Testosterone have been created, including Cypionate, Enanthate, as well as products containing several different esters (Sustanon being the prime example). But even with all these advances, Testosterone Propionate remains the most widely used Testosterone esters due to its quick-acting but long-lasting effects on muscle development, sexual enhancement, and physical performance.
In this article, we are going to discuss in detail the history of this compound, the effects it has on the body, the side effects, as well as suggestions on how to properly use this compound for various purposes, from Testosterone replacement therapy to athletic performance enhancement.
In the late 19th century, scientists were able to isolate Testosterone, the hormone responsible for masculine features, otherwise known as an Androgenic hormone. Then, in 1889, a Harvard professor was able to successfully inject himself with an extract of dog and guinea pig testicle. He dubbed this concoction a “rejuvenating elixir” and was soon laughed out of his prestigious position and abandoned all further research . In 1927 Fred Koch, a professor of physiologic chemistry, carried the torch by continuing to isolate various compounds found in testicles . In 1935, Organon, a pharmaceutical company based in the Netherlands (and creator of Sustanon) was able to successfully isolate the hormone Testosterone .
Synthetic production of Testosterone quickly advanced and yet soon researchers discovered that there is one major drawback to Testosterone in base form. Its half-life is very short (24 hours) which means that using this compound for rejuvenation purposes would mean twice or even injections three times daily in order to achieve a steady blood level.
Then in 1937, Schering pharmaceutical group, based in Germany, discovered a unique way to attach an ester to Testosterone which made it last much longer in the body . That ester was Propionate, or more technically “Propionic Acid”. When Testosterone is bound to this ester, it takes a while for the body to break that Propionic acid ester off Testosterone. This allows the hormone to slowly build up in the bloodstream and then slowly taper off, at which point a new dose would be administered. Finally, there was a way for Testosterone to be used medically in a way that worked well, had fewer side effects and was easier to administer due to the less frequent injections. Schering named their product Testoviron and until the 1960’s, it remained the standalone Testosterone ester product. In the 1960’s, researchers found various other ester lengths that allowed for an even longer half-life of Testosterone. Esters such as Enanthate and Cypionate took the main stage because their half-life extended to weeks rather than days. But nevertheless, in the underground anabolic world, Propionate will always be one of the most preferred esters of Testosterone for several reasons. And it will also be the least favorite for others, which I will go on in detail to explain in the next section.
Testosterone Propionate Profile
- 4-androstene-3-one, 17beta-ol
- Testosterone base + Propionate ester
- Anabolic/Androgenic ratio:100/100
- Effective Dose for Men: normally 25-50mg 2-3x a week – For Performance: 100-200mg every other day
- Half Life: < 1 day
- Detection Time: 2-3 weeks
Testosterone Propionate Effects
Testosterone Propionate provides all the benefits of Testosterone, but with a slow release. With a dosing protocol of every other day, steady blood levels can be achieved. While many prefer longer esters such as Testosterone Enanthate, Testosterone Propionate is said by many to have less of an effect on water retention, and mg for mg a better anabolic response.
The benefits of any Testosterone compound, regardless of ester include all of the following.
- Enhanced Protein Synthesis
- Enhanced Nitrogen Retention
- Increased Red Blood Cell Count
- Increased IGF-1 Output
- Inhibition of Glucocorticoid Hormones
Testosterone Propionate has an anabolic/androgenic ratio of 100/100 . This measurement is based on Testosterone base. Essentially what this means is that all steroids are measured by their anabolic (muscle-building) potential to their androgenic (masculinization effects such as body hair growth, voice changes, aggression, libido, etc.). A compound that is higher than 100 in either the anabolic or androgenic status is going to be more or less stronger than Testosterone. Because Testosterone Propionate is simply a longer lasting ester of Testosterone, this number is 100/100 just like Testosterone itself.
Testosterone Propionate is anabolic because it does a few critical things. First, it increases protein synthesis. It increases the rate at which muscle tissue is rebuilt following intense exercise. It also increases Nitrogen retention. Any compound that increases Nitrogen retention is considered anti-catabolic. This means that muscle is not lost during times of stress. In short, Testosterone Propionate enhances Nitrogen retention which means it helps keep the muscle you have .
Testosterone also enhances red blood cell count. This can be advantageous for those who need to keep their hematocrit levels high, such as endurance athletes. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to organs and muscle tissue. This can also be a downfall however. Hematocrit (red blood cell) can thicken the blood if in excessive amounts. This can lead to stress on the heart and therefore must be monitored if health is of utmost importance .
Testosterone Propionate also enhances the production of IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor) both in the liver as well as within the muscle cell (also known as Mechano Growth Factor). Increased IGF-1 has a myriad of benefits including insulin sensitivity, enhanced muscle growth (hyperplasia) and even more muscle protein synthesis .
Testosterone Propionate is also very effective at controlling glucocorticoid hormones. Cortisol is the primary glucocorticoid hormone and is responsible for releasing glucose during times of stress and what is known as the “fight or flight” phenomenon. While normal Cortisol levels are a good thing, excessive and prolonged release of Cortisol can lead to a host of health issues, such as Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin resistance. Testosterone Propionate helps to regulate Cortisol release, thereby preventing the negative effects of excessive and prolonged levels of this stress hormone .
All in all, Testosterone Propionate is an effective muscle building agent that also offers health benefits both to the aging male who is experiencing Andropause (the loss of natural Testosterone production) as well as the athlete who needs performance enhancement benefits that come from Supra-physiological (higher than natural) levels of this hormone. While there are other steroids that are much more anabolic and androgenic than Testosterone Propionate, this compound offers a great deal of benefits without excessive side-effects. But it should be known there are still side effects from the use of this steroid, of which we will explore in the next section.
Testosterone Propionate Side-effects
Testosterone Propionate, like its parent compound, Testosterone, can offer many benefits to those who are experiencing a loss of natural Testosterone production. But it does come with side effects, most of which can be avoided by utilizing other compounds to offset the negative effects. But even if all other methods are employed, it is still important to understand there can be complications from the use of this hormone.
The most common side effects from Testosterone Propionate are the following.
The main side effects that come from using Testosterone propionate are usually brought about because of its ability to aromatize easily. Aromatization is a process that occurs in the body where Testosterone is converted into Estrogen. The symptoms of high estrogen levels include excess water retention, gynecomastia (enlargement and growth of breast tissue) as well as increased blood pressure. Most of these side effects can be avoided by using an anti-aromatase product such as Arimidex (Anastrazole) and/or the use of an estrogen blocker such as Nolvadex. Anti-aromatase inhibitors block the conversion of Testosterone into Estrogen by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for the conversion. Estrogen blockers such as Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate) don’t inhibit the conversion of Testosterone into Estrogen, but instead block Estrogens activation of receptors in the body. If Estrogen can’t bind to certain sites on the body, then it cannot cause the side effects .
Anti-aromatase medications tend to be the preferred method to control Estrogen levels. They are the most effective at keeping Estrogen and Estradiol levels low. But they also can exacerbate Cholesterol problems, and Testosterone itself can already cause Cholesterol problems as we will see shortly. For some people, Estrogen blockers prove to be the better option, because they block the side effects like Gynecomastia, without causing undue effects on Cholesterol.
All in all, the most effective way of reducing Estrogen side-effects from Testosterone Propionate is the use of an Anti-Aromatase. At the same time, an anti-Estrogen compound will be less effective but will also not cause the same negative effect on Cholesterol .
Because Testosterone has Androgenic effects, it can cause many side-effects that come from activating the Androgen receptor. These effects include acne, hair loss, enlargement of the prostate gland, body hair growth and masculinizing effects if used in women (it is highly ill-advised for women to use this hormone).
While some of these effects, especially hair loss, are specific to each individual’s genetic makeup, the overall androgenic nature of Testosterone Propionate can in certain cases require the use of compounds the block the conversion of Testosterone into DiHydroTestosterone, also known as DHT. The androgenic effect of Testosterone Propionate mostly comes from the fact that it can convert in target tissue areas into DHT. Blocking the conversion of Testosterone into DHT by the use of compounds such as Finasteride, can help prevent hair loss as well as keep the prostate in check. But for some people, using anti-DHT drugs can also cause a loss of libido and strength. This is because DHT is primarily responsible for muscle contractile strength. The nervous system uses DHT to power the muscle’s strength and power output .
So it is important to keep in mind that Testosterone can cause androgenic side-effects, and there are measures that can be taken to offset some of these side-effects. But usually the best solution to excessive DHT conversion is to simply keep your Testosterone Propionate dosage as low as possible. The goal then, is to get enough hormone to get the results you need, without excessive amounts ending up converting into DHT.
Testosterone Propionate does cause some health concerns, especially those predisposed to cholesterol metabolism problems. Mainly, Testosterone Propionate has a negative effect on Cholesterol levels. It has been known to reduce HDL and increase overall Cholesterol levels. As discussed previously, adding an aromatase inhibitor can be an additional burden to the cholesterol levels, so care should be taken to monitor levels and ensure that steps are taken to prevent excessive cholesterol issues .
Preventative measures should be taken regardless of one’s health and include the following: A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil, and flax seed oil), regular cardiovascular exercise, as well as limiting sugar intake and saturated fat. Those who engage in regular cardiovascular exercise and follow the above dietary guidelines should be reasonably safe from the deleterious effects of Testosterone Propionate on Cholesterol levels. But it is always strongly advised that one get regular blood tests to ensure that Cholesterol levels are in check at all times.
Negative Feedback: Reduced Natural Testosterone Levels
One final and important note about supplementing with Testosterone Propionate has to do with the effect it has on natural Testosterone production. The brain has an intricate system known as the HPTA (Hypothalamic Pituitary Testicular Axis) which regulates the production of endogenous, naturally produced Testosterone. There are receptors in the Hypothalamus that monitor Testosterone levels, and once an exogenous (outside of one’s body) hormone is used, the regular signals to the Pituitary gland to produce natural Testosterone begin to diminish .
Unfortunately, there are no yet known ways to prevent this from occurring. Some people find that using an anti-estrogen helps control this by blocking the estrogen receptors in the brain (this is technically the most specific way the Hypothalamus decides what levels of Testosterone need to be produced) but for the most part, even this doesn’t provide a fail-safe way to prevent shut down of natural production.
The use of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) can help keep the Testicles producing Testosterone, but should be limited to use of no more than 250 IUS twice weekly to protect against desensitization . Even then, the actual production of Testosterone is compromised until one completely stops using exogenous hormones and then allows a period of recovery time, and utilizes a protocol known as Post Cycle Therapy, or PCT. It is also important to point out that for some people, if used for too long without a cycling approach, Testosterone Propionate, or any other anabolic/androgenic substance can cause a permanent dysfunction of natural hormone production. Therefore, great caution is advised when using this, or any other hormonal compound.
Unlike most oral steroids, Testosterone itself is not toxic to the liver. It’s important to point out though, that the liver is responsible for breaking down Testosterone and Estrogen. For some people, using excessive amounts of Testosterone can lead to excessive Estrogen levels, which can cause the liver to become taxed. While this is not necessarily liver damage, it’s important to realize that long periods of Estrogen excess can cause the liver to experience stress that may affect the health of the user .
Testosterone Propionate Utilization
Testosterone Propionate usually comes in a sterile solution of various solvents and preservatives and is intended for injection administration only. Oral consumption of Testosterone Propionate will be ineffective at increasing Testosterone levels due to what is known as First-Pass Metabolism. If ingested orally, Testosterone is passed through the liver and is quickly metabolized, thereby preventing increased anabolic activity.
For the management of Low Testosterone, Testosterone Propionate is typically injected three times weekly (as a usual protocol, Monday Wednesday and Friday are usually easily adhered to). As much as 25-50mg three times weekly should provide those with low Testosterone levels with a healthy replacement dose. As mentioned previously, however, most people using Testosterone replacement will usually employ a longer lasting ester such as Enanthate or Cypionate. These longer ester compounds require less injections (once or twice weekly) and ensure steady hormone levels .
For performance enhancement and advanced muscle development, users often dose 100-150mg three times weekly. While this will provide the user with the most results, it can also increase the chance of side effects that can have a negative impact on one’s health.
Testosterone Propionate stands well on its own, but for many athletes choosing to go beyond their natural limitations, it is included in cycles involving more anabolic compounds such as Nandrolone, Boldenone, Trenbolone as well as oral steroids such as Methandrostenolone, Stanozolol and Oxandrolone, just to name a few. These other compounds are far more powerful mg for mg compared to Testosterone. But they also fail to give the user the benefits uniquely produced by Testosterone, especially when it comes to libido, sex drive and mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is common for a user to administer a small amount of Testosterone Propionate (in the neighborhood of 50mg three times weekly) to maintain a normal level of Testosterone, while the other stronger hormones do most of the muscle building and performance enhancement.
Final Word and a note of Caution on Testosterone Propionate
Overall, Testosterone Propionate is considered to be a very effective and well tolerated anabolic substance. One important note to point: Some people experience a negative localized reaction when using a Propionate ester. Propionic acid is used to make this ester and it is very similar in chemical make-up to the toxin released in ant bites. For many people, this is simply a small nuisance that the body adjusts to over a period of time. But for some people, the pain can be too much and compromises overall daily life and wellbeing. One way to reduce this potential side effect is to mix Testosterone Propionate with another anabolic substance in the same syringe, so as to dilute the concentration. But sometimes people find the best way to avoid this effect, if they experience it, is to avoid using the compound all together .
In conclusion, Testosterone Propionate is a very effect anabolic and androgenic substance, suitable for both TRT patients and performance athletes. For some, the shorter ester can mean less side effects as long as every-other-day injections are utilized. Still though, many people prefer longer esters such as Testosterone Enanthate and Testosterone Cypionate. Milligram for milligram however, there is very little difference in effects. The only thing to consider is that the weight of the ester determines how much of the rest of the compound is actual Testosterone. Since Testosterone Propionate is a shorter ester, every milligram of Testosterone Propionate you use, you are getting more actual Testosterone compared to a longer ester such as Testosterone Enanthate. While it is almost impossible to determine the exact difference, many users report that 100mg of Testosterone Propionate is about 125% stronger than 100mg of Testosterone Enanthate. But ultimately, with the more frequent injections needed, many people still prefer to use Enanthate and simply increase their dosage to compensate for the loss of potency .
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