On May 26th 2016 I collected my parcel from the post office (yep, I missed my hormone delivery!) and started Hormone Replacement Therapy. I was so excited that I ripped open the boxes, took my first Finasteride pill then, without a care for who could potentially see me in my car, pulled my jeans down past my thigh and stuck on my first Evorel oestrogen patch. I felt instantly brilliant! Who doesn’t love a good placebo in the morning to start your day?
Now, not being full-time you would think that going on hormones would probably make me be in girl-mode all the time for the first week, excited to be starting my journey. That would have been wonderful, except I went straight from the post office to drive 3 hours up to Wales to work on a food van at a festival. A whole week of male-mode with people I’ve never met and don’t know that I’m trans. Woohoo! It’s like igniting a big stick of dysphoria dynamite and waiting to explode. Good work Amber, well planned!
Ok, so it wasn’t the best of ideas, but I did have a really fun time at the festival, and the owners and staff of the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company I worked with at the hay-on-wye festival were all brilliant. I’m looking forward to hopefully working more festivals over the summer with them.
First thing to note about that week is that spending a whole week in male-mode had quite a detrimental effect on my confidence going out in female-mode. I got back from Wales and my awesome friends took me out for drinks and food. For the first time in months I found myself very nervous even stepping outside my front door as we left, I had to wait for a second and gather myself. Then, sitting in the back seat of the car on the way into town, I was actually shaking with nerves. Just one week away and it had such a big impact on me that I know that if I do any more festivals then it will be in girl-mode, definitely.
As for the effects of the hormones, I felt a bit more emotional in the first week but nothing major, I wasn’t expecting much. If anything I felt generally calmer, possibly because of the placebo of taking the hormones and being on track.
Now to reflect on the effects over the month as a whole, here’s a little list:
- Mood Swings; Yes, I have absolutely experience some wild mood swings. I had one day where I was in tears in the morning, cheerful and upbeat in the afternoon and then crying again in the evening. They started after about 2 weeks and I expect they will continue for at least a few months until my body gets used to the new hormonal balance.
- Breast growth and sensitivity; After 2 weeks my nipples began feeling very sensitive and shortly after that I noticed ‘buds’ forming behind the nipple. From reading information and blogs from other trans women this is how breast growth starts, and it appears mine has begun reasonably early on (yay!). They are now incredibly sensitive and sometimes painful! I actually have to be careful how aggressively I hug people, or some days just avoid hugging completely!
- Softer skin; I’m not sure on this yet, I might just be imagining it, but I think my skin has become a little softer overall.
- Reduction in hair growth; I am still growing a good amount of stubble and body hair at the same rate as before so no change here yet.
- Low mood, motivation and problems focussing; This has been one of the most difficult and stressful issues I’ve encountered. Being a freelance designer I work from home so rely on my drive and motivation daily. I have felt a big drop in focus and concentration and had a really hard time getting work done. I wanted to know why so I got some blood tests done to see what was going on with my levels to try and find some answers. Previous to going on HRT my oestrogen(E) level was at 224(normal range for males being less than 223) and testosterone(T) at 32 (normal range for males being 8-29). After just 1 month my E has risen to 296 and T has dropped down to 18. No wonder I’ve had mood swings! I’ve not discussed it fully with my GP yet, but my thoughts are that my lack of concentration is due to the drop in testosterone. I think once I get used to having less in my body then I should settle down and be back to my old self again.
Overall I’m really happy to be taking hormones, it’s a great feeling to know I’m taking steps towards my future now. My GP has said that if my lack of focus and concentration become a real issue then I can choose to lower my dosage of oestrogen. If anyone else is experiencing or has experienced this then it would be great to hear from you. Does it last long? Do you have any tips for how to help?
Upcoming events for me include my first proper laser air removal session, no pain no gain, and generally coming out to more people. I’m hoping the hormones will keep on doing their stuff and over the next few months I’ll really start to see some change. Patience, as always, is a virtue. I’m certainly feeling more positive and happier, so I know I’m moving in the right direction.