About Starting Gender Confirming Estrogen Hormone Therapy
Beginning feminizing hormone therapy is an exciting and important step in a transgender woman’s transition, as she becomes her authentic self. But starting feminizing hormone therapy also comes with some risks, challenges and unknowns – as a woman literally changes her body chemistry to align with her identity.
Hormones do affect every person differently. But, as the saying goes, in most cases “the best surprise is no surprise”. So, in this article, the hormone replacement experts at SottoPelle explain some of the issue you may experience as you begin to undergo your feminizing estrogen hormone therapy. Having this information – and knowing generally what to expect from feminization hormone therapy – can help you communicate more effectively with your medical provider as you work together to map out the steps in your transition.
Physical Effects of Feminizing Estrogen Hormone Therapy
The first changes many transgender women experience when they start estrogen therapy is thinner and drier skin – with smaller pores and less oil production. You will also likely sweat much less! You may even be more sensitive to pain and temperature, and/or become more prone to bruising or cuts.
Within a few weeks most women begin to develop small “buds” beneath their nipples. While they may be slightly tender or even painful when touched, the discomfort will diminish significantly over the next several months.
Just like puberty, breast development varies greatly in timing and degree from person to person. So it is usually a good idea to give yourself a year of being on feminizing hormones before pursuing breast augmentation surgery. Your body will also begin to redistribute weight differently – depositing more fat around your hips and thighs, while the muscles in your arms and legs become less defined as your muscle mass and strength decreases.
Estrogen therapy will also cause the hair on your chest, back, legs and arms, to decrease in thickness and grow more slowly. However, feminizing hormone therapy generally will not have any effect on the tone or pitch of your voice. But a good speech and language specialist can help you with this, if this is something you decide you wish to adjust.
Emotional Effects of Gender Confirming Estrogen Hormone Therapy
The impact of hormone therapy on a transgender woman’s emotional state also varies from person to person. Just like the emotional roller coaster of puberty, the influx of hormones during feminizing therapy can affect your mental state. Many women find that you they experience a wider range of emotions or feelings – and some even take an interest in new tastes or pastimes!
A great benefit of estrogen is that it increases serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain. So female gender affirming hormone therapy typically results in an improvement in overall mood.
Whatever new thoughts and feeling result from your hormone therapy, working with a therapist while in transition can help you get to know and understand your new body and your true self.
Sexual Changes of Feminizing Estrogen Hormone Therapy
Obviously, feminizing estrogen hormone therapy has many effects that are sexual in nature. You and your doctor can discuss these in detail. But, generally, you will notice a dramatic decrease in the number of erections you have, as well as their firmness and duration. If you are concerned about reduced erections, medications such as Sildenafil may be helpful, and can be discussed with your physician.
Many women find that they begin to get erotic pleasure from different sex acts and new parts of their body. Estrogen typically makes orgasms feel like more of a “whole body” experience – lasting longer but with a bit less sudden intensity. Testicles typically shrink about half in size, but most experts agree that this still leaves sufficient scrotal skin for future genital confirmation surgery.
Most data suggest that it is best to assume that within a few months of starting estrogen hormone therapy you may permanently lose the ability to create sperm. However, a few studies show that this may be reversible if hormones are stopped for several months. So, if there is any chance you may want to parent a biological child in the future, speak with your physician about preserving your sperm in a sperm bank before beginning hormone therapy.
Alternatively, be very aware that feminizing hormone therapy does not always lower sperm count, so if you remain sexually active with someone who can get pregnant, always continue to use birth control.
Feminizing Estrogen Hormone Therapy | Phoenix
Dr. Tutera has been helping transgender women live as their true and authentic selves with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy since the mid 1990’s. This natural approach, is more identical to the body’s own hormone delivery system, leading to more effective results, with fewer side-effects and risks than synthetic hormones.
And, SottoPelle long-lasting, time-released, subdermal pellets more consistently and conveniently deliver hormone therapy than oral medications.
We have helped thousands of transgender individuals in the Phoenix area and across the United States with natural and safe bioidentical hormones for their transition, to align their sexual characteristics with their true gender identity. Talk to your physician about SottoPelle hormone therapy to help you on your unique and personal gender confirming journey. Or find a physician in your area who is SottoPelle certified using our Physician Finder HERE.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as general information only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. While the benefits of hormone replacement are well documented through clinical research, we are not representing that hormone therapy is a “cure” for any disease. Only your treating physician can determine if hormone replacement may be a beneficial part of your healthcare regimen, based on your age, overall health, risk factors, and lifestyle.