January 2015: Hormones

29 Jan

Questions about how to get hold of testosterone, how much you take, what changes happen, when they start happening and what are the side effects recur again and again on transmasculine forums and facebook groups. Taking testosterone, or “T”, is not on everyone’s agenda but for some people it is a big priority. For other’s, it can take some time to decide whether this is the right step for them. Either way, clear and accurate information is essential.

So January’s meeting was a chance to ask questions and share information and experiences on starting testosterone. There is so much discussion out there about this, it can get overwhelming. Especially regarding the effects testosterone has. There are some general effects that are widely found across nearly everyone who takes it:

  • facial hair growth
  • body hair growth
  • voice deepening
  • menstrual cycle ceasing
  • clitoris (you may call this your dick or penis) growing bigger
  • body fat redistributing i.e hips carry less weight, stomach carries more weight.

Although these are the most commonly found affects, there is a huge amount of variation in when these changes occur, how quickly they progress, and how much change occurs. Even within the room that evening at FTMB, there was a lot of variation in just how much facial hair those on testosterone were growing, and when it started. It is very hard to predict what you are going to get. In this way, before starting testosterone you are in much the same place as a pre-adolescent cisgender boy, who doesn’t know quite how adolescence is going to change him.

There are also some commonly found “side effects” such as your skin becoming more greasy which can lead to more spots or acne (and new hair growing through your skin can also lead to spots), hair loss on your head or “male pattern baldness”, appetite increase which might lead to some weight gain, and mood swings or irritability. These are good things to know might happen, and when and how much is again variable. If you know they might be coming up, you can put things in place to try help you manage them. Exercise for instance, is good for weight management of course, but also good for helping with low moods, anxiety and irritability (and sweating, so long as you cleanse your skin afterwards, can be good for cleaning pores).

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