How Quickly Will My Body Change On Hormones? / by Dr. Natalia P Zhikhareva

What is a hormone therapy for those who go through gender transition?  Thought you’d never ask!  Hormone therapy is the administration of exogeneous endocrine agents to induce feminizing or masculinizing changes. 

Hormone therapy is often a necessary medical intervention for many transgender and gender nonconforming individuals with gender dysphoria.  For many, starting hormone therapy feels exciting.  It symbolizes a beginning toward a transition to the desired gender.

We can all relate to this excitement!  When we begin a journey toward a new transformation, say a new exercise program, we get very excited!  At least I know I do!

And with excitement, the following happens.  We get inpatient.  Begin to anticipate quick changes.  Obsessively monitor our progress.  Loose sleep.  Become irritable.  And eventually the excitement fades off.

One of the tricks to maintaining the ‘excitement high’ is to set realistic expectations in the beginning.  This is often easier said than done!  I know!  That exercise program I mentioned above didn’t last for me either!

If you are starting or plan to start hormone therapy, it is important to set realistic expectations.  In order to do so, one needs to know what to expect and when to expect it!  So how quickly will your body change on hormones? 

The degree and rate of changes depends on factors that are different for every person.  This include; your age, the number of hormone receptors in your body, and how sensitive your body is to hormones. 

There is really no way of knowing how your body will respond before you start hormones!  There are, however, estimates that can help you establish realistic expectations.

In Female-to-Male Individuals What To Expect!

1-3 Months After Starting Testosterone

  • Increased sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Growth of your clitoris (typically 1-3 cm)
  • Increased growth, coarseness, and thickness of hairs on arms, legs, chest, back, and abdomen
  • Oilier skin and increased acne
  • Increased muscle mass and upper body strength
  • Redistribution of body fat to a more “masculine” pattern (more fat around the waist, less around the hips)

1-6 Months After Starting Testosterone

  • Menstrual periods stops

3-6 Months After Starting Testosterone

  • Voice starts to crack and drop within first 3-6 months
  • But can take a year to finish changing

1 Year or More After Starting Testosterone

  • Gradual growth of facial hair (usually 1-4 years to reach full growth)

In Male-to-Female Individuals What To Expect!

1-3 Months After Starting Anti-Androgens and Estrogen

  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Fewer instances of waking up with an erection or spontaneously having an erection
  • Some MtFs also have difficulty getting an erection even when they are sexually aroused
  • Decreased ability to make sperm and ejaculatory fluid
  • Some also find their erections are less firm during sex
  • Softening of skin
  • Decrease in muscle mass and increase in body fat
  • Redistribution of body fat to a more “feminine” patterns

Gradual Changes – Usually at Least 2 years

  • Slower growth of facial and body hair
  • Slowed or stopped “male” pattern baldness
  • Nipple and breast growth
  • Decrease in testicular size

Now remember, there is no way of fully knowing how your body will respond before you start hormones!  But knowing approximately what to expect, will help you envision a more realistic expectations. 

Dare to bare and share what your changes have been like?  Did some physical changes happen faster or sooner than you anticipated?