Hormone history

Pissarro, still life painting with apples and pitcher I cannot see how the advice I was given about hormones, or the decisions I took, could have been better; yet with hindsight I wish they had been otherwise.

When I decided to transition, it seemed possible to me that I would revert within five years; yet the only way I could get to the point of committing to presenting male was trying the alternative. If I never tried transition, it would always be the siren path. I have not reverted, and have no desire to, twelve years on. I started taking Ovran, which has now been discontinued, the sort of dose of oestradiol that women take as HRT, and Oestrogel, absorbed through the skin. Soon after I started taking spironolactone, a testosterone suppressant, prescribed by my private psychiatrist Russel Reid. I heard on Radio 4 that some men are so concerned about hair loss that they take this, illegally sourced. It can cause irreversible damage to the testicles, and breast development.

Pissarro, still life with peoniesI asked my GP to refer me to a local endocrinologist. He had seen my trans friend, and without expertise in trans issues had read up a bit. He tripled my hormone dose, and gave me gosarelin implants, which suppress testosterone more comfortably. They are given to sufferers from prostate cancer. The tripling was to stimulate breast growth, which did not impress me much, and I stayed on that dose until it was suddenly cut to zero. My feelings went wild: though I had had periods of emotional lability before, it was then that I became completely self-conscious of them. I went back on 2mg, then 4mg, then 6mg, and my lability continued.

Eventually I got referred to Charing Cross, and though I have not seen their specialist endocrinologist, he has looked at blood tests. He has halved my dose of oestradiol and put me on Elleste duet, which includes a synthetic progesterone- norethisterone acetate. My oestrogen levels are “normal”. Progesterone might make me feel a bit more energetic and motivated, was the thought. I take it twelve days in 28, and notice that my breasts are slightly tender then.

Well, what’s normal, and how does it matter? Normal for a woman after menopause: contraceptive pills have far higher doses of hormone. If your blood sugar is not “normal”, you can develop diabetic retinopathy- go blind- or follow the path unconsciousness- coma- death. “Normal” oestrogen levels seem less important than that, but- I don’t know. As for energy levels and motivation, some people do what I do plus a full time job. Rationally I see it would be better to be doing more, but I am reasonably content with watching TV and reading a bit, blogging a bit. Perhaps, if I had a partner supporting me, I would be looking for other excuses reasons for my lassitude, such as chronic fatigue syndrome. I manage not to be emotionally labile by excluding everything from my life, and hiding at home. I have not been meditating. I knelt, just now, and rather than concentrating on my breath my mind went wild, thinking of an experience yesterday with exasperation and sadness. Should I try once again to pass through the lability?

7 thoughts on “Hormone history

  1. Ah, so many chemicals! Modern medicine is a great thing but the side effects always there, so when one thing is treated with one chemical, another thing pops up that needs another chemical, which has another side effect … I suppose you may never know. Natural chemicals are complicated as it is. I know someone who recently told me she went through a period of controlled insanity for the last seven years, related to mourning, but several months ago she woke up back to normal. Just like that.

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    • I am unsure of the medical rationale for giving me these hormones. Russel Reid the psychiatrist who prescribed them initially did it as a test: those who are not really committed to transition don’t take them, and don’t come back. Then GPs have always prescribed them because the specialist recommended. Changing secondary sex characteristics is a reason, and there is anecdotal evidence only that hair removal works better on hormones: but mine are changed now. If giving me more energy is the idea, other stimulants might be better. I had a bone density test, and have no risk of osteoporosis. It should not just be what is done.

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  2. When it comes to “taking the hormones, chemicals etc, or not”, either way life gets to feel like being “stuck between a rock and a hard place” and it gets to the point of seeking the comfortable answer as to which influence life is better for one, I think.

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