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 Chem Corner Esters of Testosterone



The Esters of Testosterone: All the Same?


Esters of the same drug are ultimately the same drug, and we have so many because they came from a place that is, at its foundation, a place to make profits.


By William Llewellyn


Q: I’m trying to figure something out. I’ve read that you think all the testosterone esters are the same for the hormone they give you. But at the same time, I’ve read other perspectives that say cypionate will give you less water, or that propionate is for cutting and enanthate is for bulking. How can there be such a difference of opinion? And it then begs the question, if there’s no difference, like you say, why do we have them? I mean, why would any drug company sell testosterone propionate if it weren’t really different from enanthate? Since it’s so fast of an ester, I would think the drug companies would stop selling it with all the other stuff being made. So, I guess my question is, can you explain your position a little more, and perhaps why we have so many of these drugs if you’re correct in saying they’re all the same testosterone?


A: Thanks for the question, and I understand your confusion. For those unfamiliar with my previous arguments, I’ll reiterate them a bit here, and then answer your specific question about why I feel as I do. Hopefully, this explanation will help a little more.


Different esters of the same drug really offer the same effect. For example, the user will never notice a tangible difference, given equal blood levels of testosterone. Realistically, the ester is for forming an inactive drug deposit only, and once in the blood, will quickly break off to yield the base hormone. Yes, if you want to be technical, there may be some metabolism that can happen to an esterified steroid in the blood before it releases free testosterone, and that difference might allow some longer esters to produce ever-so-slightly more DHT, for example, than shorter esters. But actual differences between injectable esters and the rates their base hormone will metabolize, to date, have never been demonstrated or quantified. If they do exist, they’re extremely, extremely slight. So, in relation to the argument, testosterone cypionate = testosterone enanthate = testosterone propionate = Sustanon = testosterone. It’s all about how much hormone will be free in your blood at a given time, not about how it got there. This will dictate how strong the anabolic, androgenic and estrogenic aspects of the cycle are, not the choice of the ester itself.


What has been problematic in the layperson world of steroids is the simple fact that so many different esters exist. This has led countless steroid writers to speculate that there are differences between them. After all, why are there so many if they’re all the same? An explanation was needed, and as is human nature, when there wasn’t one, speculation took care of it. I agree with your findings, and can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read where the author extolled the advantages of one ester over another – and how many bodybuilders have strongly accepted that certain forms of testosterone or nandrolone have specific uses for cutting, while others are for bulking only. In reality, this is just human imagination – creating differentiation where there really is none. The answer as to why there are so many esters of the same drug is a much simpler one, and we’ll find it looking at the history of some of the various testosterone esters.


History of Testosterone Esters


Early 1930s. Testosterone suspension (base) predates all esters. It was used by injection to achieve a clinical response, but had no real depot effect and required multiple injections each week. Testosterone suspension was used, even to the early 1950s, fairly regularly.


1936. Testosterone propionate is made. It was the first commercial ester of testosterone to take root. It has a very long history of clinical use. Although it was slightly better than suspension, it wasn’t much of an improvement, and it too required more than one injection per week.


1950s. Testosterone hexahydrobenzoate is released in Europe. This is still a very fast-acting ester, requiring multiple injections each week. It still appears to be slower acting than propionate, however.


1950s. Testosterone enanthate is released and offers substantial advantages over older esters in that it’s very slow acting and requires injections only once every three to four weeks. It’s quickly adopted for use around the world, and would go on to be the dominant form of injectable for the next 50 years.


1950s. Upjohn develops its own variation of slow-acting testosterone, called cyclopentylpropionate (cypionate), probably to compete with enanthate. Upjohn retains a strong market share in the United States with the drug, but it’s not widely adopted by other pharmaceutical firms, likely due to patent issues.


1950s. Schering develops a blend of the old dominant ester (testosterone propionate) and the new dominant, slow-acting ester (testosterone enanthate) called Testoviron. It’s supposed to provide a more balanced release, but modern data refutes this advantage. It sells very well for Schering for some time.


By the 1960s, some European companies wanted their own esters, and we started seeing more – like the French product testosterone cyclohexylpropionate. This drug is ultimately very similar to cypionate (cyclopentylpropionate), yet it’s a unique compound for marketing purposes.


Mid-1960s. Ciba, which sold a great deal of testosterone propionate in earlier years, introduces its own slow-acting testosterone called testosterone phenylacetate (sold as Perandren phenylacetate). This ester is highly insoluble in water, and according to the company, forms an injection depot that lasts for as long as one month. This provided an acceptable release pattern, but the drug was very painful to inject. The product included a small amount of procaine to offset this soreness, but it was not enough to eliminate it. The drug was discontinued before the 1970s.


1970s. Organon develops Sustanon 250, which is billed as the perfect, sustained-release injectable testosterone. As with Testoviron, modern data suggests no such advantage. The product, however, soon dominates the blended ester preparations like Testoviron, and becomes one of the best-selling testosterone products worldwide.


The above is but a partial list of the development history of the esters of testosterone; there are many more that have come and gone over the years. Based on the chronology, you should be able to see that companies were often progressively trying to improve on their older technologies, trying to create a product that was better, and would sell better than what was out before it. Others were probably just trying to carve their own unique niches in the marketplace. The old esters (like propionate) were usually abandoned by the multitude of generic manufacturers as new ones became available. In the United States, the drug has actually been unavailable for many years, whereas in 1955 there were dozens of companies selling it. These firms tended to gravitate toward what was selling the most at the time, so it’s understandable.


Some of the early products remained in the marketplace, more than likely because they continued to sell for the manufacturers. It only makes logical sense that every company isn’t going to just drop what it’s selling because the competition has come out with something better. What makes money makes money, and we all know that the pharmaceutical world is often cluttered with many different drugs to treat the same condition, usually some better than others. It’s a business in the end, and (unfortunately) isn’t always about what’s the best technology at any given moment.


Bottom line: Esters of the same drug are ultimately the same drug, and we have so many because they came from a place that is, at its foundation, a place to make profits.


William Llewellyn is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the use of performance-enhancing substances. He is the author of the bestselling anabolic steroid reference guide ANABOLICS and CEO of Molecular Nutrition. William is an accomplished researcher/developer in the field of anabolic substances, and is also a longtime advocate for harm reduction and legislative change. He built the website, an extensive online database of information on anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.


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