Feminizing hormone therapy can be a transformative experience for people undergoing gender transition, helping people assigned male at birth feel more “in tune” with their authentic identities. But while the result can be very positive, therapy does involve significant changes, and knowing what to expect can help make your journey even more positive and affirming.
Estrogen is the main hormone for feminizing hormone therapy that triggers the feminizing changes in your body. Some providers add anti-androgen treatment to suppress the effects of male hormones in your body. The effects you experience during therapy change over time as your doses of these medications are adjusted, and your hormone levels change.
As a top-ranked and trusted provider of gender-affirming care for patients in Phoenix, Arizona, DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, offers patient-centered feminizing hormone therapy at Desert Star Family Planning, along with regular checkups and ongoing support. If feminizing hormone therapy is in your future, here are some of the most common changes you can expect during your treatment.
Hormones are deeply involved in your emotional responses. Not surprisingly, feminizing hormone therapy can cause mood changes as your body adjusts. If these swings take a toll on your well-being or your daily activities, additional medications or mental health therapy can help.
Skin and hair changes
Other changes to expect relatively early in therapy include changes in hair growth and skin texture. Most people notice slower hair loss on their scalp within the first 1-3 months of treatment, with decreases in body hair occurring within 6-12 months. Your skin may feel softer and less oily within 3-6 months.
Muscle mass changes
About 3-6 months after treatment begins, you’ll notice a decrease in muscle mass. The full effect of this change takes about 1-2 years.
Body fat changes
In addition to decreasing muscle mass, you can expect to gain body fat during your therapy. Your body fat distribution may also change. These effects typically occur within the first six months of treatment, peaking at 2-5 years.
Breast growth may be anticipated, but many don’t know how long that development takes or when it begins. Typically, breast growth begins within six months of beginning treatment, reaching its full effect within 2-3 years.
Changes in sexual function and fertility
Early in therapy, you can expect a change in erectile function, with fewer erections and a decrease in ejaculation beginning 1-3 months after therapy begins. You may have less interest in sex during this time, as well. Your testicles will begin to atrophy after about 3-6 months of therapy, continuing to decrease in mass for 2-3 years.
Feminizing hormone therapy can be very empowering, and many people find they feel more comfortable, more relaxed, and more centered in their own lives. While an improved sense of well-being is one of the positives of therapy, there’s no denying it’s life-changing, and having mental health support throughout your journey can help you adjust, stay positive, and celebrate all the positives along the way.
Compassionate care and support
Feminizing hormone therapy is a highly individual decision and one that deserves recognition and support. Still, the adjustments during therapy can be unexpectedly challenging.
Dr. Taylor offers individualized care and support, carefully monitoring your hormone levels during your journey to ensure you stay healthy and focused on your goals. To learn more about feminizing hormone therapy and other gender-affirming options, call 480-447-8857 to book an appointment with Dr. Taylor and the team at Desert Star Institute Family Planning today.