The side effects of Testosterone Propionate represent a confusing topic for many anabolic steroid users. Due to decades of gym gossip and internet myth, it’s often said the side effects of Testosterone Propionate are far less severe than most testosterone compounds, but this isn’t true. The testosterone hormone itself is not an unfriendly steroid; exogenous testosterone use can easily be side effect free with responsible use. However, we will find the possible side effects of Testosterone Propionate are identical to all testosterone forms and any information that’s contrary is false.
The estrogenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate represent the primary area of concern for many men. The estrogenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate are due to the testosterone hormone interacting with the aromatase enzyme, which causes a conversion of testosterone to estrogen. As estrogen levels rise, this can lead to and promote gynecomastia and water retention. If water retention becomes severe, this can promote high blood pressure. In a therapeutic setting, such as Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), the estrogenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate are possible but extremely easy to avoid. For the performance athlete supplementing with supraphysiological doses, the risk is greater but again avoiding such effects isn’t difficult. In order to avoid the estrogenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate supraphysiological doses will normally need to be accompanied by the use of an anti-estrogen. For the TRT patient, he may or may not need an anti-estrogen; it’s impossible to predict. When choosing an anti-estrogen you have two choices, Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERM’s) like Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate) or Aromatase Inhibitors (AI’s) like Arimidex (Anastrozole). AI’s are the most effective as they will inhibit aromatization thereby lowering serum estrogen levels. Then we have SERM’s and while they won’t inhibit aromatization or lower estrogen levels, they will bind to the estrogen receptors preventing the estrogen hormone from binding. SERM’s can be enough for some men, but many men will need an AI. Unfortunately, AI’s can have a negative affect on cholesterol, particularly HDL cholesterol. Alone they do not appear to have a strong affect, but when conjoined with an AI the suppression of HDL cholesterol can be significant. SERM’s do not have this affect; in fact, SERM’s will promote healthier cholesterol. SERM’s are anti-estrogenic in part but actually act as estrogen in the liver thereby promoting healthier cholesterol levels. It is often said the estrogenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate are less severe than other testosterone compounds, especially water retention. However, testosterone is testosterone regardless of the ester attached. The testosterone hormone does not become active in the body until the ester has been removed. Once the ester is removed, regardless of the ester that was attached, you now have the same testosterone hormone in your body.
The androgenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate are highly unlikely in TRT plans, but can be problematic in sensitive men supplementing with supraphysiological doses. The androgenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate include acne, hair loss and body hair growth. However, they are dependent on genetics. The androgenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate are due to the testosterone hormone being metabolized by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and reduced to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). If you are predisposed to male pattern baldness this may cause you to lose some hair. You were going to lose your hair with or without testosterone use but use of the exogenous hormone may speed it up. Those who are not predisposed will not be at risk. The same can be said of acne, if you are genetically sensitive to acne you will be the first to have a problem. If you are not sensitive breakouts will rarely occur if they occur at all. If you are sensitive, staying clean and dry at all times will help. Always shower after becoming sweaty, if a shower isn’t possible, change into a clean, dry shirt and shower as soon as you can. Important note – the androgenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate can be combated by the use of a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor like Proscar (Finasteride). Such inhibitors will reduce the androgenicity of the testosterone hormone, not completely but significantly. However, such compounds should not be used unless absolutely necessary as they will weaken the testosterone hormone and carry side effects of their own. The androgenic side effects of Testosterone Propionate can also promote virilization in women. Virilization symptoms include body hair growth, a deepening of the vocal chords and clitoral enlargement. This compound is rarely used clinically in women. Women can suffer from low testosterone, but normally other options are more suitable. In a performance capacity, while exogenous testosterone is normally not recommended, if used this will be the version to go with. Due to the short/small ester, it will be easier to control blood levels, but the risk of virilization is still present and strongly so. If virilization symptoms appear, and they most likely will, if use is discontinued at their onset they will dissipate rapidly. If symptoms occur, are ignored and use continues, the effects may become permanent.
The cardiovascular side effects of Testosterone Propionate can include high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. If water retention is controlled, which is very possible with a proper diet and anti-estrogens, bearing any underlying issue high blood pressure should not be a concern. As for cholesterol, this can be a different issue, although healthy cholesterol management is more than possible. TRT doses of testosterone should not statistically affect cholesterol. Supraphysiological doses of testosterone should only have a moderate affect on cholesterol, particularly in suppressing HDL cholesterol. However, when conjoined with an AI, TRT or supraphysiological doses of Testosterone Propionate may lead to a 20-25% suppression of HDL cholesterol. In order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels a cholesterol friendly lifestyle will be important. A healthy lifestyle means your diet will be rich in omega fatty acids; daily fish oil supplementation is recommended. The diet should also be limited in saturated fats and simple sugars. It is also recommended that daily cardiovascular activity be part of your routine. Although not always necessary, some may find the use of a cholesterol antioxidant supplement to be beneficial.
The side effects of Testosterone Propionate will include natural testosterone suppression in all men who supplement. For the TRT patient this is of no concern as he no longer produces enough testosterone to begin with. For the performance athlete, while on cycle this is also of no concern as the exogenous testosterone will provide all he needs. Once the use of Testosterone Propionate has come to an end and all exogenous hormones (steroidal) have cleared the body, natural testosterone production will begin again. However, it will take quite a bit of time for levels to reach their prior high state and a low level condition may exist for a time. For this reason, most men are encouraged to implement a Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) program following anabolic steroid use. A PCT plan will stimulate natural testosterone recovery and speed up the process. It will not bring your levels back to normal on it’s own, there’s no PCT plan that can do this. However, it will ensure you have enough testosterone for proper bodily function while your levels continue to naturally rise. Important notes – natural testosterone recovery assumes no prior low testosterone condition existed. Natural recovery also assumes severe damage was not done to the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular-Axis (HPTA) due to improper or irresponsible anabolic steroid use.