Testosterone and estrogen are the hormones associated with gender. The average male, female and everyone in between have bodies that run on and need both. Today we are going to explore testosterone and the effects of it on the transgender male. Please note before we proceed that if you are currently undergoing or thinking of undergoing hormone replacement therapy with testosterone that we strongly recommend you do so under the care of a physician. There can be many dangers and health risks if testosterone is not administered and monitored properly.
tes·tos·ter·one (pronounced teˈstästəˌrōn) – noun
- A steroid hormone that stimulates development of male secondary sexual characteristics, produced mainly in the testes, but also in the ovaries and adrenal cortex.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and testosterone
Hormone Replacement Therapy with testosterone is the process of administering the hormone to “female to male” transgender patients in order to induce and maintain the development of male secondary sex characteristics. Though testosterone cannot reverse the effects of puberty, HRT with testosterone can help develop male characteristics and make a patient look more like the male gender they identify with. It causes significant social and psychological changes while affecting your mood, energy, appearance and overall health. Though not a full cure it is very effective at treating patients with gender dysphoria. Testosterone can be administered by injections, creams, gels, patches and subdermal pellet implants.
Physical changes associated with testosterone
There are many changes that occur when taking testosterone. Some are permanent and some are reversible.
- Growth of facial an body hair
- The deepening of the voice
- Male-pattern baldness (for some who are genetically inclined)
- Both growth spurts and the eventual closure of the growth plates (if taken before puberty)
- Breast atrophy
- Enlargement of the clitoris
- Redistribution of body fat
- The cessation of both ovulation and menstruation (usually after 5 months)
- Muscle development
- Coarse skin and more visible veins
- Changes in body odor and sweat glands
- Acne during the initial stages of therapy
- Oestrogen production (reversible in early stages)
- Changes in cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Increased red blood cells
What testosterone cannot change
- Breasts: Though it will create atrophy testosterone will not make the breasts disappear
- Rib Cage: Female rib cages are narrower than the average male
- Hands: Male hands are normally larger than those of females
- Pelvis: The female pelvis is normally wider than the average male
- Head: The male head is generally larger than females of the same proportions
- Arms: Female upper arms are generally 1″ longer than males on average
Changes to the face (over time)
- Nose: The nose will tend to get longer an wider
- Brow: The development of more prominent brow ridges can occur
- Jaw: The jaw can grow wider and be more defined
- Cheeks: The face can become less full and rounded
- Larynx: Enlargement of the vocal chords and “adam’s apple”
- Lips: It is possible a thinning of the lips could occur
The affects on bone structure
Both testosterone and estrogen are needed for healthy bone and to prevent osteoporosis. Testosterone may cause an increase in cortical bone thickness in transgender men. It is also possible that vitamin supplements may be required for bone health, particularly if gender reassignment surgery has been performed.
Metabolic risks associated with testosterone
- Possible increase in appetite and overall body weight.
- Increased risk for type II diabetes
- There is a risk of liver damage and liver cancer testosterone if high doses are taken
Possible mental risks associated with testosterone
- Mood swings
- Increase aggressiveness
- Increased anger
- Sleep depravation
Typical hormone levels in males and females
|Females||6 – 86||0.1 – 1.2|
|Males||270 – 1100||2.4 – 12|
|Women (> 18 years old)|
Hormone Replacement Therapy can have many great benefits for female to male patients when administered correctly. It can have a positive affect on one’s mental state and the changes that occur to the body are often positive for those who identify as male. Again we highly recommend you see a medical professional such as an Endocrinologist who has experience treating transgender patients if you are taking or considering taking testosterone.