Stretch marks with a vengeance.
To my surprise, I found that as my body began to change on hormones, so did my sexual orientation.
In March of 2015, I made the huge step to go on hormones and start the process of transitioning from male-to-female through the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy, otherwise known as HRT. I was excited, but there were more than a few surprises in store for me as the months went on, a few of which I decided to share.
1. My Sexual Orientation Flipped
In March, if I had to describe my orientation, I would have said I was almost completely attracted to women, with slight wiggle room for the occasional crush on a dude. To my surprise, I found that as my body began to change on hormones, so did my sexual orientation. I was more and more attracted to men, progressing from more physically attracted to women, but more psychologically attracted to men, to finally where I am now, which is almost completely physically and psychologically attracted to men, with slight wiggle room for the occasional crush on a girl. I read up on this phenomenon, and it's not uncommon among those who undergo transition, but I wouldn't have minded someone letting me in on the fact this could happen!
2. My Libido Diminished Dramatically
Although self-explanatory, the experience of losing the intensity of my male libido was alarming at first, but after I adjusted to it, I found myself feeling liberated and refreshed — so to speak. For me, the male libido and sort of hyperdrive mentality that accompanied it were profoundly distressing throughout my life, and the source of much anxiety. Now, I can hardly remember what that felt like, although I do know for certain that it was absolutely not for me.
3. My Experience of Arousal Transformed
Whereas arousal pre-HRT was a very sharp feeling, and almost entirely manifested due to physical triggers, I discovered that, with the presence of estrogen, I could mentally cue myself to feel more or less aroused. Sometimes this was deliberate, sometimes not, and the latter can be very disappointing when something minor suddenly interrupts the dreamy headspace of psychologically-initiated arousal. When arousal became more mental, it gave me more control over my own experience that I never had before, and to me that is so satisfying that I can hardly do it justice through words.
4. Skin Sensitivity
OK, most everyone is familiar with the fact that women have softer skin, which is due to the presence of fat stored subcutaneously (under the skin), but I wasn't quite aware of how this change in skin texture also made my skin a lot more sensitive to every little sensation. Prior to HRT, I could hug almost anyone without it being an issue, but now I find that even a slight change in temperature can cause my skin to scream, so hugging people I just met is almost always out of the question. This could be seen as good or bad, but I find that it's mostly a neutral experience for me, because the extra sensation can definitely be very nice sometimes, making it more of a balanced change.
5. Stretch Marks
This one is definitely a negative. I wasn't aware that hormonal changes cause stretch marks, so I was in for a surprise when they started appearing with a vengeance. I immediately asked my doctor what was going on; I was worried about everything from muscle degeneration to a diet imbalance, but he told me that it's not uncommon to see severe stretch marks in people undergoing a hormone change. Unfortunately, stretch marks aren't easy to get rid of.
In conclusion, there are both good and bad things about HRT, most of it good, some of it neutral, and some of it bad. I'd encourage anyone thinking about starting HRT to think it through for a good long while before making the decision, but in the end, I feel it has certainly changed my life for the better!