Well, doesn’t time fly? Six months – half a year – on estrogen. I thought I’d better write a bit of an update.
Today is my six-month anniversay of starting HRT. I can still remember how nervous and excited I felt when I peeled off the shiny silver backing of my Evorel patch before applying it to my skin – and then, natch, taking a photo of it for Twitter.
And while I’d love to report that the changes have been swift and massive, the fact is that not much, if anything, has happened.
A while back, I did wonder if my skin was becoming softer, maybe if my scent had changed, but I think I was probably just being fanciful.
A few weeks back, I did get some sharp, stabbing pains in the area of both nipples. Hoorah, I thought, at last something is happening. But they’ve gone away now, too.
Suffice to say, my body is pretty much exactly the same as it was six months ago. There may have been some tiny changes but, if there are any, they’re so tiny as to be undetectable.
That said, I have noticed of late, that my thighs have become a little chubbier. But that could be to do with going off the rails a tad in terms of my diet and having a “self-destruct” week of wine and beer, pizzas and kebabs. 6.5lb ON in a week at my last Slimming World weigh-in. Oops! Back on it now, though, natch.
So how do I feel? Well, I suppose a little disappointed. As I’ve mentioned before, the web is full of blogs and YouTube videos from trans girls reporting huuuuuge changes after two months, three months, four months and so on.
I’d have expected SOMETHING by now. But, as everyone keeps telling me, YMMV – your mileage may vary. In other words, to continue the car analogy, younger vehicles will usually adapt to new bodywork pretty fast. Older ones, much like my aged Toyota, will probably have to wait a bit longer.
I had some more blood tests about a month ago, and the results were a tad disappointing to say the least. My testosterone continues to fall (from 24 in January to 19 in July to 13 in October). So at least that’s good. The aim is zero, btw.
But my estradiol (estrogen) levels are more concerning. The aim is to get the level between 400 and 600 – the same range as for a cis woman.
Before HRT, mine were 93. After using the Evorel 50 patches (50 microgrammes of estradiol per day), my levels shot up to 216.
So my endo doubled my dose. I’ve been on the Evorel 100 patches (100 microgrammes of estradiol per day) for two or three months now.
But in my last blood test, my levels had dropped from 216 to 208. I can only assume this may have been because the patch became unstuck before my blood test.
That’s the only problem with taking estrogen via a patch – if you have a hot bath or shower, the adhesive on the patch, which contains the hormones, simply melts away and the patch becomes unstuck.
A few days ago, I had a copy of a letter from my endo to my GP. He wrote: “The estradiol level of 208 pmol/L is not only disappointing but also rather surprising.”
You can say that again, doc. So he’s recommended another blood test ASAP. I’m seeing my GP tomorrow morning, so will hopefully get that sorted when I’m there, or get a form for the local clinic a day or so later.
He adds: “I wonder if you had chance to discuss an LHRH analogue with them?”
Naturally, my GP hasn’t. It seems that, if I don’t chase her with phone calls, nothing happens.
Anyway, an LHRH is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone. Any the wiser? No, me neither. In a nutshell, it’s an anti-androgen, or testosterone blocker.
In other countries, trans women seem to start blockers and estrogen at the same time – or take the blockers first. But, for some reason, in the UK, the NHS prefers us to do things the other way round.
It’s probably another reason not much has happened. How can the estrogen do its job properly if it’s constantly having to fight the effects of testosterone?
So hopefully, I can get my first shot when I see I my GP tomorrow and that will kickstart things. My endo has recommended leuprorelin (Prostap 3), aka Lupron. I’m to get 11.25 microgrammes “SC”, whatever SC is, every 12 weeks.
The letter also refers to the “precautions mentioned in my last letter”, by which he means the effects on the “old chap”.
Initially, I was a little concerned about those. I mean, who wants your balls to shrink, your penis to shrink, erectile dysfunction, orgasms more difficult to come by, as it were, and ejaculation to possibly stop?
But now, I couldn’t give a toss. Arf! Little Andie has given me a lot of pleasure over the decades, but then Little Andie’s also a constant reminder of my body’s “maleness”.
I don’t want kids but I have sperm frozen just in case I ever change my mind. And not only will I be still be able to orgasm, but the orgasm will be ten times stronger, like those of a cis woman, so I’m really looking forward to those!
So there we are. Six months on, not much to write home about, but hopefully the blockers will work their magic and I’ll start seeing some changes soon. This whole transition thing really is a waiting game. I used to be so impatient – not any more.