Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
MtF (Male to Female) Perspective, State of Iowa
I. Wish. To. Stress. You do not have to do HRT to be validated or accepted as a trans-person. I chose to embrace and do HRT because I felt it was right for me and it was the correct choice for what I wanted to do.
Next. I can only provide you my perspective with what *I* experienced, and how my body reacted, worked with and responded. Please also be aware that the picture above is with me in make-up. My skin is NOT that naturally soft. (I hope one day it might be!!!!)
Disclaimer. I'm not a doctor. This is my opinion. I will provide the steps I took to make things happen.
Ok, SO. In the state of Iowa, in order to be put on hormone replacement therapy you must receive a medical diagnosis of GENDER DYSPHORIA from a licensed mental health professional. Many people say this is gatekeeping/problematic, etc. I didn't care. I wanted the HRT. I jumped through the hoops.
Using the LGBTQA clinic in Coralville outside of Iowa City, these are the steps I went through to be PUT on Hormone Replacement Therapy:
I scheduled an appointment with the LGBTQA clinic in Coralville, IA. I interviewed with my specialist, and then was seen by the supervising M.D. A doctor who can prescribe medication MUST sign off on the process or it's a no-go. They then setup an interview (which is FREE through their process) with the University of Iowa's Master's program to have a psychological evaluation done. *This process took about...2 weeks in total*
Once all the paperwork was done, I was prescribed estradiol patches and put on spirnolactone. The estradiol patches to increase my estrogen in my body, and spirnolactone being an androgen blocker to stop and reduce testosterone in my body.
My dosage increased every 3 months until the 6th month where I will now be for the rest of my life. I had to be seen every 3 months to have blood tests and screening.
Being on hormones saved my life. Being on hormones helped me feel like me. Being on hormones essentially cured a lifetime of anxiety and depression.
This is where I will say not everyone will experience what I experienced, again. I *wanted* to change, so very badly that I think the changes that happened at the frequency and potency that they did occurred because I made them happen through my willpower. My androgen blocker is a pill and my estradiol is a patch. I chose to do this because my doctors advised me to not process the estrogen through my bloodstream to avoid liver damage which is a concern they monitor for MtF HRT patients.
Here's MY timeline of what HRT did and when:
Within 24 hours I felt an emotional change. My anxiety began to drastically decrease over the next month until it dissipated nearly entirely.
Ok, here are the big ones most trans-persons are wanting to know, remember this is MtF, I don't know anything (obviously) about FtM:
My breasts started feeling tender and growing at about 1.5 months and have continued to develop. I noticed significant increase in breast growth from months 6-9. I'm currently at 11 (almost 12 months) on HRT and I still experience tenderness and my breasts are still growing, and will (according to my doc) continue to grow until 2 or 3 years on HRT. I was told to not get top surgery (breast augmentation) because it would be anticipated I would outgrow the implants.
My hair growth/re-growth didn't really start kicking in until the 5th and 6th month of HRT. Yeah, this seriously pissed me off because I was quite a furball and shaving your entire body sucks. I currently (at 11 months almost 12) have more fine/soft hair that regrows far less, but my facial hair still has stubble which requires daily shaving and my chest hair grows back still annoyingly fast (every 2-3 days). I will be pursuing laser hair removal soon, but must budget. Translife = $$ (we all know this, grr).
At each dose change, I experienced an emotional surge. So at the beginning, month 3 and month 6 I could either be a sobbing mess in the first week or so of the estradiol increase or a raging bitch (LOL). I have experienced a similar roller coaster recently (04/24/19) as I seem to be levelling out. I will update this after my May appointment if necessary.
I experience a period without menstrual bleeding every 28 days, that began around month 6-7. I get cramps. I get bloaty. I get moody. Everything a woman naturally experiences without the need of a tampon/pad. And yes - it's true. If you live with another woman, I have sync'd up with another woman's cycle before.
With HRT, my sex drive was significantly reduced at the beginning and essentially died at the 3rd month. This was also coupled with willpower in my opinion, though. I had an insane sex drive prior to my transition which did not match my true desire so I think it had a natural flow to lead to that. I currently experience no arousal or reaction of any kind. (And I am ECSTATIC ABOUT THIS).
My skin started to become softer at month 4/5. I wish to stress that moisturizer is very helpful also. It has become even more so since month 9. (Month 9 has been my strongest timeline changer).
At 15 months I *still* experience dysphoria. HRT does not cure dysphoria, in my opinion. There are days when I look at my body and think it is too boyish, that if I turn my head or face a certain way that I see my old self.
Dysphoria is a mental process. I have 37 years and 11 months of knowing what I used to look like. It will take TIME for me to accept more and more, and I *love* hearing that I'm beautiful, amazing and feminine.
Appearing more feminine, female or more womanly (etc.) is a matter of preference or perspective. For me, it involves HRT, make-up, femme outfits (I like dresses, and princessy/girly outfits), bangs/long-hair (at the moment, LOL), and smooth features.
Feel free to ask questions/send me messages/talk to me! ~Ysa