6 Irreversible Changes in Trans Men Caused by Taking Androgens

By December 2, 2016Health & Wellness

No transgender person considers taking androgens on a whim. By the time someone gets to that point, they have likely been questioning their gender identity for a while. Taking testosterone or puberty blockers can drastically the improve lives of FTM transgender individuals; however, patients should know which effects of these hormones are permanent and which are reversible.

In order to get a better understanding of the information below, a good prerequisite is to read a bit about just what testosterone boosters are, how they’re made, what types exist, their inner mechanics, benefits, and potential side effects. Once you’ve gained a better understanding of the main theme throughout this post, you should be well equipped to understand the irreversible changes trans men go through as a result of taking androgens.

According to the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, the following changes associated with taking testosterone are usually irreversible:

1. Your Breasts Will Shrink

They won’t go away, but your breasts will soften and decrease in size. They may also feel sore or tender when you first begin taking testosterone, which is why many doctors recommend waiting six months after starting androgen treatment to undergo chest surgery. It is unknown whether or not testosterone therapy increases patients’ breast cancer risk; trans men should continue getting routine mammograms even after chest reconstruction surgery.

2. Your Voice Will Deepen

Your voice will begin to sound more “masculine” as your vocal chords thicken. You may notice changes within weeks of starting treatment, and your throat might feel sore at first. You will likely sound hoarse for a while until your voice settles into its new tone. Some trans men do not develop the deep voices they desire from testosterone therapy. Fortunately, there are vocal techniques that you can practice to alter how you sound. A speech therapist can help you find a comfortable voice.

3. You’ll Grow More Facial Hair and Body Hair

In addition to growing thicker and darker, your body hair will start to grow faster.
You’ll likely develop a body hair pattern that is similar to your male relatives; however, it can take more than five years of testosterone therapy to obtain optimal results. Your ability to grow facial hair depends largely on genetics. Some trans men quickly grow big, bushy beards while others only see scruff.

4. You Are at Risk for Male-Pattern Baldness

A receding hairline is one of the milder risks of transitioning. If male-pattern baldness runs in your family, you could eventually experience thinning or complete loss of the hair on your head. Typically, women see their hair become homogeneously thinner as they age, yet men tend to lose hair in specific places such as around their temples and on the top of their scalps. All hair-replacement treatments and procedures that work for non-trans men should be equally effective for trans men. Some trans men retain a full head of hair for their entire life.

5. Your Clitoris Will Become Larger

You’ll likely experience a rapid increase in libido shortly after starting testosterone therapy. Your clitoris will permanently increase in overall size, and it will become temporarily enlarged while you are sexually aroused. The ways in which you experience sexual pleasure may change too. The intensity of your orgasms and your sensitivity to genital stimulation could increase.

Some trans men report changes in their attractions or even their sexual orientation while taking testosterone. Rather than repressing these feelings, you should feel free to explore your sexuality. Talk to your doctor about which safer sex practices you should employ to reduce your risks for pregnancy and STIs.

6. If You Haven’t Finished Puberty, You Will Have a Growth Spurt

Transgender individuals are now transitioning younger than ever before. If a child identifies as transgender, a doctor may recommend that they take puberty inhibitors, which are medications that suppress the body’s natural production of estrogen or testosterone, to delay the physical effects of puberty before deciding to take androgens.

If an FTM youth who is still growing starts taking testosterone, they are likely to experience a rapid growth spurt. Any changes in fat or muscle distribution might revert if they stop taking hormones, but changes in height are permanent; you simply can’t get shorter.

The specific risks of taking androgens at a young age aren’t fully understood, nor are the long-term effects of taking testosterone over the course of a lifetime. Nonetheless, children should always be allowed to question and express their gender identity however they feel comfortable.

Recommended Dosage and Expected Results

How quickly your body starts to change will depend on several factors including genetics and your age. Increasing your doses doesn’t guarantee faster results; in fact, taking too much testosterone can be dangerous to your health. General hormone dosage guidelines for FTM and MTF individuals were published in a 2013 edition of Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity; however, you should consult with a doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

Additional Risks of FTM Androgens

The long-term effects of taking androgens are still being investigated. For example, a study conducted at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress in Amsterdam revealed that testosterone therapy can permanently alter brain structures. Additionally, taking testosterone may increase your risks for high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Be honest with your doctor about your medical history to determine if androgens are safe for you.

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