One Year on HRT

Today marks a milestone – today I’ve been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for a full year.

Twelve months ago I drove the 500 km back to Peace River from Edmonton, marched into a local pharmacy and joyfully handed over my prescription for spironolactone, estrogen, and progesterone. The day before had been my long-awaited appointment with an endocrinologist at the University of Alberta Hospital. I had to take time off work to drive down for what turned into a brief physical, followed by a prescription and requisition forms for blood tests. After meeting with the doctor I went to the lab at the hospital and had blood drawn to get a starting baseline of what my hormone levels were.

That night before I drove back home I drank pink sparkling wine in a jet tub. It felt like the appropriate way to cap off a long year of trying to get girl hormones.

From left to right: spironolactone (inhibits testosterone), progesterone, and estrogen.

I had wanted to start HRT for a long time, it had been on my mind for the better part of a decade. I’ve never hated my body but I’ve never felt like it was mine either, it has always felt rented. I was a girl but someone stuck me with a short dudes body and most of my life it felt like I was trying to make the best of a bad situation. At the best of times I tried to make my rented body look like the kind of guy I’d want to date but usually, I just felt stuck with it.

With HRT I feel like I own my body for the first time in my life. That feeling of ownership makes me want to take better care of it, which is better for my health in the long run. I no longer feel like I am making the best of a bad situation.

Physical Changes

Initially, changes were slow. The first indication that the hormones were working was after about a month when I began having hot flashes. Three months after I had my blood tested, after seeing the results the doctor who prescribed me the hormones phoned to increase the dose. After that, the hot flashes started to subside and I began to notice more physical changes.

My breasts started growing first, they seemed to go in spurts every once in a while there would be this physical pain that felt like a powerful ache inside my chest. The feeling typically lasted for two or three days at a time. I soon realized those were growing pains. In a year they’ve grown about a cup and half in bra size.

The next change that started to assert itself was how my body stored fat. As I burnt fat off my belly, it mostly stayed gone, I’ve lost at least two and a half inches. As my belly shrunk new fat was deposited in my butt and eventually my hips. My hips have actually been the change I have been the most excited about although they are still quite small and only noticeable when I have no clothes on. This change also didn’t start until about month nine or 10. As a result of the changes so far I stopped needing a belt for most pants because pants clung to my hips better.

Facial hair has always been the thing I dislike the most about my body and the thing I am most excited to see change, although hormones have a limited impact on hair loss. They will contribute to facial hair loss in that as old hairs grow out they are not replaced but that can take a very long time. I have a home-based electrolysis kit to help the hair removal part along but its much slower than I would like. Laser hair removal would yield faster results but it’s too expensive for me right now and electrolysis can be done at home. However, over the last year, my facial hair started to thin, there are bald patches, and the hair that remains is growing back slower and lighter.

Sexually, sensation and certain functionality have changed although my libido has remained about the same. Erections are rare and weak and I’m pretty sure my penis is smaller than it used to be. That being said sensitivity has remained and in a few places, sensitivity has increased. Everything works, just slightly differently.

Finally, my skin has started to change. My face is much less oily than before, I used to get frequent acne breakouts but that has mostly stopped. Both my face and all over my body my skin has become noticeably softer.

Taken a year apart wearing the same clothes. The one on the left is the week I started HRT and on the right, one year later.

There have been a lot of changes physically over the last year. It has been tiring at times but rewarding because my body finally feels like it is representing me. This has helped me take huge steps in my personal life, particularly regarding social, physical and mental health.

I smile more too. I was looking through selfies I took the first week on HRT – no proper smiles, it’s like I didn’t know how to smile. I also used to hate being photographed. Over the course of this year that has changed, I’ve learned to smile and I took gigabytes of selfies, I love being photographed and never pass up an opportunity to check out my reflection when passing a reflective surface.

The only regret I have in this whole process is that I didn’t do it sooner.