The Truth About Feminizing Estrogen Therapy
Beginning feminizing hormone therapy is an exciting step in a transgender woman’s transition. But starting feminizing hormone therapy can also make a person a little nervous about the risks and side effects of venturing into new, uncharted territory.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that gender-affirming hormone therapy has been around for nearly 100 years, there are still many misconceptions about the effects of estrogen therapy for transgender women. The Internet is full of misinformation – and movies and TV also rarely portray medical information accurately.
In previous articles, the hormone therapy experts at SottoPelle have discussed the types of feminizing hormones as well as what to expect when starting estrogen HRT. In this article we dispel many of the just-plain-wrong myths about transgender hormone therapy – so that you can confidently embark on your journey to living your authentic life!
Myth #1: Feminizing Estrogen Therapy Makes You Overly Emotional
Cisgender woman have long lived with the stereotype that estrogen induces hysteria, extreme mood swings and causes women to break into tears at the drop of a hat. This is simply untrue. While some trans women will experience changes in their emotional constitution, estrogen does not make you emotionally unhinged.
In fact, research studies consistently confirm that gender-affirming hormone therapy improves both mood and mental health for transgender individuals.
Myth #2: Feminizing Estrogen Therapy Kills Your Sex Drive
Libido is highly individualized and personal. So the connection between libido and hormone therapy are as unique as you are. When trans women experience changes in their sexual drive it is likely due to decreased testosterone levels due to blockers – not estrogen.
Talk to your physician if you have concerns about changes to your sex drive. Blood work can be conducted to assess your testosterone levels. And together you can figure out what is best for your sex life.
Myth #3: Feminizing Estrogen Therapy Prevents You from being Fertile
This is one of the most common misconception about estrogen therapy. It’s important to realize that hormone therapy does not make you infertile and does not stop sperm production. So feminizing therapy is not an effective form of birth control and you can still get someone pregnant while on estrogen.
However, the medical community still doesn’t have complete data on the long-term effects of hormone therapy on the fertility of transgender people. Since hormone therapy use could eventually impact your ability to conceive using your own genetic material, consider ways to preserve your sperm before starting estrogen therapy.
Myth #4: Feminizing Estrogen Therapy Will Give You Blood Clots
This is a common concern of transgender women beginning feminization therapy. But recent studies have found that the rate of blood clots for transgender women on estrogen is actually lower than the estimated rate of blood clots in premenopausal cisgender women who are taking oral contraceptives.
In short, while estrogen increases the risk of blood clots above that of the general population, the risk is no more than that of birth control pills. But remember that while the chance of developing a blood clot or having a stroke is very low, people who smoke or have a history or heart disease or blood clotting disorders, do have a greater risk.
Myth #5: Feminizing Estrogen Therapy Will Change Your Voice
Estrogen feminizes many aspects of your body, but unfortunately vocal cords aren’t one of them if your voice has already changed.
However, if you were assigned male at birth and take hormone blockers as a teenager, then testosterone will not get a chance to thicken your vocal cords, and your voice will not deepen as much.
In other words, if testosterone during puberty already thickened your vocal cords and deepened your voice, estrogen won’t reverse that. However, if altering your voice is important to you, voice therapy or surgery can help!
Myth #6: Feminizing Estrogen Therapy Makes You Shorter with Smaller Feet
Bone structure is something that becomes permanent during puberty. So, if you start feminizing estrogen therapy in adulthood, your stature, hands and feet will not get small. However, trans women who took hormone-blockers as a young person may develop slighter stature as well as a small hand or shoe size.
Myth #7: Everyone Will Know You’re Transitioning
Many transgender women put off starting feminizing estrogen therapy because they aren’t ready to come out to the world. This is based on the erroneous belief that once you start hormones, it will suddenly be super visible and everyone “will know.” The truth is that hormone therapy is a very gradual process and changes to your body will be subtle and develop slowly. You do not have to tell anyone that you are transitioning until you are ready to!
Talk With Your Doctor About Feminizing Estrogen Therapy
It’s always best to talk with your physician to understand the effects of feminizing estrogen therapy. The Internet and the media are full of bad information. Being fully informed puts you in control of your transition and your relationship with your body.
SottoPelle has been helping transgender women live as their true and authentic selves with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy since the mid 1990’s. This natural approach, is more identical to the body’s own hormone delivery system, leading to more effective results, with fewer side-effects and risks than synthetic hormones. And, long-lasting, time-released, subdermal pellets more consistently and conveniently deliver hormone therapy than oral medications.
Talk to your physician about the SottoPelle hormone method to help you on your unique and personal gender confirming journey. Or find a physician in your area who is SottoPelle certified using our Physician Finder HERE.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as general information only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. While the benefits of hormone replacement are well documented through clinical research, we are not representing that hormone therapy is a “cure” for any disease. Only your treating physician can determine if hormone replacement may be a beneficial part of your healthcare regimen, based on your age, overall health, risk factors, and lifestyle.