Hormone Replacement Therapy: A curse and a blessing

Posted on December 21, 2016 by Ellen Defrancq

Here, I would like to emphatically reiterate that taking hormones or hormone blockers without the supervision of a physician can be very dangerous. On the one hand, dosing without regular monitoring and adjusting can be so off that fatal bodily injuries result. On the other, the quality of the medication that is coming from dubious sources, such as online pharmacies overseas that deliver without a prescription, cannot be adequately controlled. In a best case scenario, these medications have no effect at all…

The wrong dosage of hormones can also lead to life-threatening problems. For example, an overdose may lead to severe and irreversible liver damage. The risk of a pulmonary embolism (clot) also increases exponentially. High doses of steroid hormones can lead to changes in bone density and osteoporosis. The wrong dose can thus also have devastating consequences…

Hormone replacement therapy via mail
But what is it then? What is it about these ominous hormones that compels transgender individuals to get them even without the supervision of a physician? And what are the effects of regulated hormone therapy?

Many who have not had to deal with this subject have asked themselves this question. I have been asked this question many times. And I asked myself this question when, many years ago, I learned, for example, that it is possible to change the hormonal balance in transwomen from testosterone to estrogen with medication.

The male sex hormone testosterone is primarily produced in the testicles. The female estrogen is formed in the ovaries. In transgender people, the body’s own hormones can be suppressed through medication and replaced with the respective other hormone. For me as a transwoman, my testosterone was suppressed and replaced with estrogen prior to my sex reassignment surgery. Since the sex reassignment surgery, the testosterone no longer needs to be suppressed with medication since the organ that produced the testosterone was removed.

Estradiol
People’s imaginations run wild when you say you are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. Suddenly, there are comments like: “You shouldn’t take too much of those or you will develop huge breasts…”. Well, ok. It would be great if it were that easy. Unfortunately, the bodily effects are much less spectacular than one had hoped. Unfortunately,… Generally, there are subtle changes that develop slowly over the course of several years. These effects can basically be divided into two categories. On the one hand, there are the bodily changes, on the other, the mental effects.

In terms of bodily changes, hormone replacement therapy can make something grow, but it cannot make something that has already developed disappear. With the exception, unfortunately, of the primary sex characteristics. This means that hormone therapy in transwomen can result in breast development. The dose cannot influence the size of the breasts. In genetic women, the size of the breasts is determined genetically. Transgender women who start hormone replacement therapy after puberty generally have to expect a smaller result, the older they are.

Fat distribution also begins to change over the course of time. Men tend to store fat in the abdominal region. Women, on the other hand, tend to build a little cushion in the thighs, hips, or butt. Facially, some women develop bigger cheeks.

The skin also starts to change. In transgender women, for example, the texture of the skin can become more fine. In transmen, hormone replacement therapy can, for example, initiate the vocal change of puberty.

Unfortunately, hormones cannot make anything disappear… The primary sex characteristics remain as they are. Many secondary sex characteristics also remain unchanged. Whether the male outlines in transwomen or the breasts in transmen. Only a skilled plastic surgeon can help further.

Hormones also have a not-so-insignificant effect on musculature. Since I have been taking the female hormones, I have to exert a lot more effort to achieve the same level of physical work. Building muscle has also become more difficult. But that does not really matter since I am not planning on becoming a female body builder…

But the hormone replacement therapy has had an effect on me that I was not expecting. My perception has changed in that my rational side has slowly become less important and my emotional side has taken over. For example, while I used to watch movies and could tell myself that, ok, it’s just a movie, I now have to pack tissues in preparation for the inevitable crying attack. By taking hormones, my awareness has slowly changed to the point where now it is finally in sync with my inner being. I find this wonderful, and finally my entire being feels more complete.

Danielle

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