I am a physically transitioning transgender woman. What are the risks of hormone replacement therapy on my body?
Hormone replacement therapy for trans women may include three different kinds of medicines: estrogen, testosterone blockers, and progesterone. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for most the appearance of female characteristics both physical and emotional.
Every individual’s body is different. This means there is never one way in which a person may experience and respond to the changes or side effects of hormones. Some commonly reported physical changes experienced by transitioning women include: development of breasts (typically small in size), wider hips and thighs, smoother less defined leg and arm muscles, increased feminine appearance in facial structures, a decrease in body hair growth, and more.
Commonly reported emotional changes also vary from person to person. Individuals going through transition may experience changes in mood and a wider range of emotions, interests, and behaviors. Long term estrogen use may cause changes in the reproductive system and sexual nature.Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to achieve the maximum effect with relatively small doses of estrogen. Taking high doses does not necessarily make changes happen quicker and can in turn endanger your health.
Many of the risks associated with taking hormones can be reduced by having periodic health tests and monitoring by an appropriate medical professional. Buying hormones from unreliable sources or on the “underground market” should be avoided since you can’t always be certain of what you are buying and whether it is safe. The National Women’s Health Network encourages anyone who is considering using hormone replacement therapy to only use legally prescribed FDA approved hormones.
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Evita Almassi, MSW, served as the Communications and Digital Marketing Manager for the NWHN. Her 10+ years in nonprofit communications – especially with social media advocacy campaigns – enabled the NWHN to reach and empower more women in their health education and advocacy journeys.
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