F-to-M Transgenders: Physiological, Psychological and Social Effects of Testosterone

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In the second and final part of this series of articles that explores the effects of testosterone for an F-to-M transgender, we will look at the physiological, psychological and social modifications resulting from testosterone therapy.

Physiological Modifications

Hormones target different body organs and regulate the way they function, which leads to visible effects on the physique, as detailed in last week’s article. But they also cause changes inside the body, which affect your overall physiology.

  • Heat and Perspiration

Testosterone increases your heartbeats, and subsequently blood pressure. Blood circulation ensures the regulation of your body’s internal temperature. With testosterone, the circulation’s speed increases, as the body naturally reacts to counter the effects of the decrease in the external temperature. This makes you less sensitive to the cold, which is a double-edged piece of news because it makes you more sensitive to heat. (This explains one of the world’s biggest mysteries: Why girls are always cold.)

All this physically manifests itself in an increase in perspiration, which is the natural phenomenon responsible for reducing your temperature.

  • Effect on Internal Genital Organs

The treatment will stop your menstrual cycle. Testosterone also directly affects the ovaries and the uterus. The ovaries will develop the poly-cystic ovaries syndrome, which makes them covered with a kind of white film. If you stop your treatment before the hysterectomy, you will be faced with a more or less advanced case of sterility.

Within roughly one to two years of the treatment, you might sometimes experience cramps in the lower stomach that are well localized at the level of the ovaries. The reasons for these cramps are quite unclear, but they could be linked to the effect of hormones on your organs. This kind of signs reinforces the fact that hysterectomy is a necessary health operation when an F-to-M transsexual begins a hormone therapy for life.

As for the uterus, it will wither little by little. Similarly, the vagina will get smaller and lose some of it elasticity. All this will be accompanied by a decrease in the secretions of natural lubricant.

  • Body Odors

Your personal odor will change, not as a direct result of the treatment, but due to your changing skin, the sebum increase, salt retention and the renal expulsion of the testosterone in the end, which modify the chemical composition of your perspiration and urine.

  • Libido, Energy and Sleep

Testosterone is known for its effect on sexual desire, the libido, and that’s no legend. Testosterone is even prescribed for desire disorders for post-menopausal women and/or women who have undergone hysterectomy. It is evident that the prescribed levels have nothing to do with those for an F-to-M. They are largely lesser. But that doesn’t mean that your libido will be out of control.

Testosterone is essentially steroids and other doping products, which is not a coincidence. It is a natural stimulant, which will give you more energy in all your activities. Sometimes, this makes you a little less patient. You will also recover faster from fatigue and you will need less sleep.

However, the quality of your sleep might be altered by your treatment, as well as that of the person sharing your bed. In fact, as a result of the changes, the frequency and volume of your snoring is likely to increase. But the most disabling effect is the eventual appearance of sleep apnea, which means that you will “forget” to breathe for a few seconds and several times at night. Sleep apnea is detected with time, and you will also experience greater fatigue when you wake up, even though you had caught enough hours of sleep. If you notice a great change in the quality of your sleep, it is advised to talk to your endocrinologist who will refer you to a specialist, if need be.

Psychological and Social Modifications

These effects are measurable, not calculable. There are as many ways of living and sensing the changes as there are people on this planet.

In no way will testosterone transform you into another person. Personality doesn’t change; you are the person you always were, but liberated from the chains which, for the most part, prevented you from expressing yourself freely. The only upset (which is not one in fact) is that your character will wholly express itself; if you’re repressed many things in the past. It is obvious that your kinfolk are likely to see that you’ve somewhat changed.

Hormones change nonetheless many things in your daily routine. As soon as the first effects are noticeable, your social status will morph into an increasing masculine presence. Mistakes about your gender will become less frequent. The questioning looks and confusing situations will slowly become a thing of the past.

This social evolution causes a real relief and triggers often an openness to the outside. Gone are the feelings of aggression every time someone approaches you to ask for the time. The second effect is thus increased confidence in oneself and the image projected onto others.

All this doesn’t radically change by simply snapping your fingers. It takes time for fear and the conditioning in which you lived all these years to disappear.

In summary, everything has a tendency to become simpler. One often becomes calmer and more serene. It might seem paradoxical because testosterone has the bad reputation of making people more nervous, more aggressive even. Surely this helps to become faster to react and more energetic. However that doesn’t make you an incontrollable animal about whom half the world’s population should be concerned. You don’t have more testosterone than all the other men on the planet. If the operations are a form of liberation in your private life and your physical well-being, hormones are a form of social and relational liberation. But not everything is rosy. Some problems which you may already have will be inverted, such as coming out. You must sometimes admit that you never had this figure and it’s not that obvious.

Translated from French by Joelle

Militante LGBT, elle a traîné le rêve de se vouer à la cause depuis l’âge de 15 ans. Elle a commencé son parcours dans la société civile par une association de protection de l’enfance, la lutte pour le droit de la femme à décider de son corps et de son esprit et elle a fini par se lancer dans la grande aventure de la lutte pour la cause LGBT à travers le blog Aladin puis le groupe Abu Nawas. Son rêve est d’arriver à une reconnaissance des droits de la communauté transgenre dans le monde arabe… Tout est à refaire…

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