Testosterone Propionate Side Effects

By: Juice

Last updated:

SteroidCycle.org is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of professional medical advice.

Testosterone Propionate is one of the original esters of testosterone and although it is not used so much in the medical world these days, it remains one of the more popular forms of testosterone for some bodybuilders.

Testosterone Propionate Side Effects
Testosterone Propionate Side Effects

This is a fast acting steroid with a short half life which can have its benefits in certain types of cycles.

Even though many bodybuilders still swear by Testosterone Propionate as their preferred testosterone ester, others would still rather stick with esters like Enanthate and Cypionate and there’s several reasons for that.

This makes it really important to be familiar with the differences between these esters, and what benefits and downsides Testosterone Propionate might have for you.

While its effects are of course identical to all other testosterone esters, the practicalities and costs of using Testosterone Propionate can often be the deciding factor.

So is Testosterone Propionate the right testosterone ester for you, and what should you expect when it comes to side effects? Find out all this and more…

Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of steroids (PEDs).

What is Testosterone Propionate?

Testosterone Propionate is a fast acting ester variant of testosterone. With a half life of between 2 and 4 days. So not only does this steroid start working quickly, but it also has a short action duration so needs to be injected quite frequently.

Testosterone Propionate Structure
Testosterone Propionate Structure

It is one of the more painful steroid injections due to the propionate ester which can cause some irritation and post injection soreness for some users.

Testosterone Propionate goes way back to the 1930s, as the first testosterone steroid that was developed with an attached ester and then marketed for medical use.

It was widely used for this purpose until well into the 1950s when other longer acting esters were developed and these overtook Testosterone Propionate in popularity.

Today it is still used medically in some locations (but not in the US), but does not have the more widespread use of longer lasting variants like testosterone enanthate or cypionate.

As with all testosterone steroids, Testosterone Propionate has powerful anabolic and androgenic effects with its standard ratio of 1:1 and rating of 100 and 100 – a measure that all other types of anabolic steroids are measured against.

What does Testosterone Propionate do?

All forms of testosterone will provide you with identical benefits. What concerns us specifically with Testosterone Propionate, compared to other esters, is how long it takes to be released into circulation after injecting.

This will control how soon you can start seeing and feeling some of the positive benefits and effects of this steroid.

In the case of Testosterone Propionate we are talking about a quick acting steroid. It has a short half life, so you can expect faster results from this ester than you would from one of the very popular but slower acting variants like Testosterone Enanthate which can take a couple of weeks to kick in.

Testosterone Propionate should start providing noticeable benefits within a matter of days and these will primarily be related to performance: strength and endurance enhancement as well as recovery benefits.

Muscle gains as well as continuing strength gains will become prominent within the first few weeks of your cycle and will carry on until the end; provided your diet and training supports lean muscle growth!

The main effects and benefits of Testosterone Propionate are:

  • Gain muscle: On a standard cycle with Testosterone Propionate as the sole compound, first time users can achieve impressive muscle gains measuring 15-20lbs. You can expect some loss of fat at the same time, and while there’s likely to be some fluid you should come away from a cycle with at least 15lbs of lean gains.
  • More strength: A gradual strength increase in the first week of a Testosterone Propionate is going to allow a greater capacity for lifting heavier weights, which will snowball your gains. Expect strength to continue increasing throughout the cycle, with some additional strength often becoming more permanent well after a cycle ends.
  • Faster recovery: Testosterone Propionate will make muscle recovery more efficient; repairing damaged muscle tissue faster after workouts. This cuts down your time in between training sessions, allowing the more regular working of muscle groups and a lower risk of injury.
  • More endurance: A natural result of higher testosterone and the associated increase in oxygen transporting red blood cells is a big boost to your stamina, endurance and overall performance. Working out at a higher intensity for long periods of time will become the norm during your Testosterone Propionate cycle. Fatigue will set in much later than usual, but it’s up to you to take advantage of this increased exercise capacity to train at a higher level for bigger, quicker gains.

Testosterone Propionate provides the massive boost required for great gains in muscle and strength but it doesn’t happen on your own, so to enjoy the following benefits you must be prepared to use this steroid with a proper bodybuilding routine.

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Short-Term Side Effects

All of the familiar testosterone side effects can be expected with Testosterone Propionate. But that doesn’t mean you will be affected by every possible side effect.

Some will be dosage related, others depending on your genetics or your personal response to the steroid. But the majority of possible Testosterone Propionate side effects will be of a short term nature, in that they will dissipate after your cycle comes to an end.

There can be an exception or two though, especially with high dosage or long term use (what we could term abuse of the steroid).

The main short term side effects of Testosterone Propionate to watch out for are:

  • Water retention – it’s not only for aesthetic reasons that you want to keep water retention under control because it will also affect blood pressure. Excess fluid will add to the weight you’ve gained, but it should start to reduce after your cycle comes to an end.
  • Gynecomastia – when controlled effectively, gyno should not progress to a more permanent problem. Suitable use of an AI or SERM and avoiding excessive doses of Testosterone Propionate should be enough to ensure that any gyno that might rear its head will fade away following your cycle.
  • Acne – if you’re unlucky enough to be acne prone then short term break outs can be an annoyance, and they can cover not only your face but other parts of the body as well. But the acne should mostly clear once your cycle ends.
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure – these cardiovascular side effects should be short term in healthy people provided you take adequate time in between cycles to allow a full recovery.
  • Testosterone suppression – this side effect will stay around longer, especially if you don’t do PCT (which is essential). But it’s still not a permanent or long term side effect unless you’ve caused irreversible damage to the HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis) and its function. This is usually only a risk when seriously abusing steroids long term and normally with steroids much more powerful than Testosterone Propionate.
  • Injection pain – any anabolic steroid can be uncomfortable to inject but Testosterone Propionate is known as one of the more painful ones. This is because of the type of ester attached to the testosterone hormone which can cause inflammation. The pain is usually worst right at the time of injecting, and some people will still experience discomfort a day or two later. You should be rotating injection sites with each injection to allow recovery. Ideally leaving at least two weeks between using the same injection location.

Estrogenic Side Effects

Testosterone Propionate is an estrogenic steroid – through the process of aromatization, it can convert to estrogen. This can cause some of the most dreaded of steroid side effects, but they can be more manageable with Testosterone Propionate than they are with some other types of steroids.

If you’re bulking with Testosterone Propionate, which is its main use, then a small amount of fluid retention isn’t always unwanted as it can enhance your appearance somewhat, but excess water retention can and should be avoided with use of a SERM or AI (keeping in mind that AI drugs are likely to worsen cholesterol levels).

Development of gynecomastia is also possible at higher doses. All in all, Testosterone Propionate is not likely to bring about the severe estrogenic side effects of some other steroids and you should find them quite easy to manage.

As mentioned, aromatase inhibitors can compound on the negative changes to cholesterol that this steroid might already bring about but AIs are also considered the most effective way to control estrogen.

This leaves you with the individual decision of choosing a SERM or AI and your choice will come down to your cholesterol health and how severe your estrogenic side effects actually are.

Androgenic Side Effects

Testosterone Propionate has powerful androgenic properties, with its androgenic rating of 100. Androgenic side effects are always heavily dependent on your genetics so mostly comes down to luck.

If it’s your first time using steroids you might not know what to expect, but you should prepare for possible acne breakouts. This can range from very mild, to severe acne covering different areas of the body (usually mostly the face, shoulders and back).

Hair loss is a more serious androgenic effect that won’t always be temporary. If the loss of hair is severe enough, there could be permanent shrinkage of the follicles which prevents your hair growing back, or it may only grow back thinly.

If male pattern baldness is a genetic trait in your family, then higher doses of Testosterone Propionate will put you at risk of this side effect. In very sensitive individuals hair thinning or shedding can even happen in the low to moderate dosage range.

The cause of this hair loss is an increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Some steroid users will turn to a DHT blocker like Finasteride which only works when the hair loss is being caused by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme.

In fact, testosterone is the one and only steroid that this form of treatment is useful for because the DHT conversion is happening through the 5-alpha reductase enzyme.

Finasteride might not prevent your male pattern baldness when using Testosterone Propionate but it can be worth trying if this side effect is a particular concern for you.

Hepatotoxic Side Effects

Testosterone Propionate will not cause stress to the liver. This is a steroid you can use without worrying about liver enzyme values.

But since it is commonly stacked with an oral steroid, in those cases you will need to concern yourself with liver hepatotoxicity and design your cycles around minimizing stress to the liver (by limiting both dosage and length of use or oral steroids).

HPTA and Endogenous Testosterone Production Side Effects

At any dose above basic testosterone replacement, Testosterone Propionate will cause some level of suppression to your natural testosterone function. It might be reduced, or it could be shut down.

Post cycle therapy is essential after using Testosterone Propionate, for the purpose of speeding up the return to normal testosterone function.

With PCT it will take about 4 weeks to get back to normal, but without it can take many months of suffering debilitating low testosterone symptoms.

Because Testosterone Propionate clears your system quickly we can start PCT within the first week after ending a cycle, depending whether other longer lasting steroids were utilized in the cycle.

Cardiovascular Side Effects

Testosterone Propionate may cause negative changes to your cholesterol levels. All anabolic steroids have the potential to alter your cholesterol, in effect causing high cholesterol due to a raising of LDL levels and simultaneous decrease in HDL levels.

On the scale of severity of cardiovascular side effects, Testosterone Propionate is one of the more moderate.

It’s unlikely to impact cholesterol to the extent that many other steroids do, but any negative change to cholesterol is always a cause for concern. More so if you have any existing high cholesterol issues or general cardiovascular related health problems.

With rising cholesterol comes an increase in blood pressure. The extent of this is going to be dependent on you as an individual and also your dosage of Testosterone Propionate.

When used at moderate doses and for limited cycle lengths, Testosterone Propionate should not cause the majority of users serious cardiovascular issues. Stacking it with more cardiovascular stressing steroids will certainly raise the risk.

Steps can be taken to reduce stress on cardiovascular health, like including omega-3 rich foods in the diet and/or including a fish oil supplement. The inclusion of regular cardio workouts in your training is also well worth considering.

The way you manage estrogenic side effects can also have an additional affect on cholesterol. When using an aromatase inhibitor to control water retention and gyno, there is high potential for cholesterol levels to be worsened.

Ideally a SERM is the better option for controlling estrogen even if they are rarely as effective as an AI, especially if cardiovascular health is a concern for you.

Is Testosterone Propionate Safe?

Testosterone Propionate is considered safe when used for medical purposes, primarily as a treatment for low testosterone conditions in men. It has been in use for this reason for decades, with its effects fully understood and dosages well established.

Medical doses are always very low compared to the amounts bodybuilders take, and such low doses are completely safe. After all men are just replacing the levels of testosterone that should normally be there for healthy functioning, rather than taking higher doses to build muscle.

Health authorities regularly warn about the potential for long term health complications as a result of regular, high dose anabolic steroid use. These are general warnings not usually specific to any one steroid, and there are certainly steroids which are far more potent than testosterone.

But it’s wise to keep these risks in mind, because while some individuals will have no longer term complications, it’s not impossible that any one or more of these risks could appear later in life, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to arteries
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Decreased sperm production

Testosterone Propionate also comes with the downside of being a relatively painful injection, and this can lead to poor injecting practices or complications relating to the injection site, like infection.

Common sense hygiene measures should always be taken to prevent any avoidable complications and you should be familiar and confident with proper injecting technique (including regular rotation of injecting sites) before starting use of the steroid.

So while it’s fair to say that Testosterone Propionate is the safest steroid to use, because it is plain testosterone, it does not come without the risks we associate with anabolic steroids in general when they’re used for performance and bodybuilding purposes.

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Why does Testosterone Propionate hurt?

Testosterone Propionate has a reputation as a painful injection and this is caused by the Propionate ester having harder crystals in the ester solution. Many will call this the most painful steroid to inject.

This is one of the reasons why Testosterone Propionate isn’t so popular, and why it’s not advisable for beginners to use this variant of testosterone unless there are no other options.

Symptoms can include immediate pain when injecting, swelling, and a lump forming on the injection site for several days afterwards.

Which is better Testosterone Cypionate or Propionate?

These two testosterone esters are exactly the same in their effects. The only difference is the attached ester alters the rate of release of the testosterone hormone, and it’s duration of action.

Propionate is a shorter and faster acting ester than Cypionate, so it works quickly, but it also usually causes pain when injecting and will cost you more per cycle than Testosterone Cypionate.

How long does it take for Testosterone Propionate to start working?

Testosterone Propionate is a fast working ester of testosterone so it kicks in within the first week of your cycle. At that early stage you should see improvements to endurance and increasing strength which will improve gradually as your cycle progresses.

Does Testosterone Propionate cause gynecomastia?

Yes Testosterone Propionate can cause gyno to develop if estrogen levels rise too much. You can control estrogen using either SERMs or AIs during your cycle, and also avoiding very high doses of Testosterone Propionate, some of which converts to estrogen through the process of aromatization.

The first signs of gynecomastia are usually swollen, tender or puffy nipples which can progress to enlarging of breast tissue. This can start early in the cycle, and usually goes away once you stop using Testosterone Propionate. But if gyno is allowed to progress too far it can be difficult to reverse without surgery.

Is Testosterone Propionate better than Testosterone Cypionate?

Both are the same testosterone steroids with different esters to control the release timing and how quickly you can see results.

Testosterone cypionate is a more popular choice even though it’s slower than Testosterone propionate, because the injections are less painful and you only need to inject once or twice weekly. For most users Testosterone Cypionate is the more convenient and cost effective choice.

Final Thoughts

Testosterone Propionate can provide amazing results. I won’t argue with the well known positive benefits of this steroid. But ignoring the downsides is difficult to continue doing, especially these days when we’re fortunate to have some awesome alternative options to consider.

About the Author
Juice Lewis, Author of SteroidCycle.org
Juice Lewis

Real-life Experience, not Theory

I don't claim to know everything; what I talk about here is something I've done. From anabolic steroids to HGH, to peptides, insulin, and supplements, I've done it at some point in my life, and I can relate.