The Risk of Feminizing Hormones, Dramatized

First, some non-fantasy stuff. I went in for a medical check-up today and had my blood pressure tested. It’s 124 over 86 — which I gather is really good. I told my mom the numbers. She’s a health and nutrition guru professionally, so I value her opinion highly as such. She liked the numbers very much. She said that, at this rate, I might live forever. So, that’s good.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this feminizing-hormone business. I’m very glad I’m on them but they’re pretty high-risk stuff.

A friend of mine went on feminizing hormones without medical guidance. She achieved her basic objectives but her bones got so brittle, her thigh bones snapped and now she’s unable to walk.  So, this isn’t a good place to exercise more initiative than caution.

If we want to make a dramatic fantasy about my situation, it’s that a young princess was put under a wicked spell by an evil witch, so that instead of growing up to be a lovely young lady, her voice and body became all distorted compared to how she should have been. Finally, a good witch came up with a magic potion to undo some of the effects of the evil spell, but the princess had to take only small dosages every day, and eat right, or she would drop dead. Also, it would take many years for the reversible effects to be reversed. And most of the effects would never be reversed anyway.

So, yes, it’s a fantasy story, but if you substitute “my nurse practitioner and her MD” for “good witch” and “Spironolactone plus Estradiol” for “magic potion” it becomes more realistic. The part about “small dosages every day, and eat right, or she would drop dead” is no fantasy. That’s my life, every day. Even with medical supervision, these hormones are risky:

  1. It’s a lot easier to get a stroke or heart attack.  With bad blood cholesterol, estradiol is a huge risk.  Me, I’m super-careful about what I eat as to a low amount of saturated fats, a high amount of unsaturated fat; salmon, olive oil, walnuts, shrimp, avocados and so on. I get my blood cholesterol tested regularly. So far I’m doing great, but if I slack off, I’m dead. No super-sized double-meat extra-cheese extra-bacon burgers with extra ranch dressing and BBQ sauce, for me.
  2. It’s a lot easier to get an aneurysm. As part of my prescribed medication, I take one tiny-dosage aspirin pill every day … it has a blood-thinning effect that helps keep me alive, I gather. The blood-thinning aspirin, however, if combined with too-high amounts of natural blood thinners like garlic, or walnuts, or salmon, or avocado … that could create some quickly-fatal problems for me. So I have to be always mindful of that aspect too.
  3. It’s a lot easier to get kidney failure. The Spironolactone has a massively dehydrating effect, and unless I drink vast amounts of water per day, regularly throughout the day, my fingertips are all shriveled up and … how do I say this nicely … my pee is bright yellow. I recently weighed myself: 183 pounds. The next day: 193 pounds. The difference was probably how dehydrated vs. hydrated I was. I actively keep track of how much water I drink daily and there’s a case of Walgreens water with me or in my car wherever I go. Also, sleeping the whole night through without having to get up part-way and going to the bathroom to pee … that hasn’t happened for months, and might well never happen again.
  4. It’s a lot easier to get heart failure. Before going on Spironolactone, I managed my sodium intake carefully to protect against high blood pressure. Nowadays, any sodium that I take in, my body wants to get rid of. I try to win the race by taking in vast amounts of sodium. The little soup cans that I used to love until a friend read the label and called it “heart attack soup” due to all the sodium … I eat at least one per day, nowadays. I put extra salt on my omelets, on the nuts I eat, and when I eat veggies then I dip them in soy sauce. I thought I was doing fairly well as such. But, the most recent time when the medical specialist read my blood test results, she was pleased with everything except … my sodium intake was too low.  Wait, what?! I should take in even more? Wow.  Conversely, my body now struggles to get rid of potassium. I have to carefully manage how much I take in or I could get my potassium vs. sodium balance out of whack, and then hello heart attack. I used to cheerfully eat potatoes, tomatoes, kiwi fruit and bananas. Now they are a rare treat, for me. And even so, my potassium levels are OK but barely so.
  5. It’s a lot easier to put on weight. Testosterone vs. estrogen … you get the idea. I’m delighted my boobies are growing, and that I look less blatantly muscular, but I’m also slowly seeing my body weight increase over time, even though my diet and exercise aren’t changing much. I’m putting on weight in places where girls put on weight, so I’m not complaining, but it’s possible to have too much of that, too.
  6. It’s a lot easier to get liver damage. The estradiol I take is supposed to be absorbed under the tongue, so it bypasses the liver. If I mess up and I swallow the pills instead, I could mess up my liver, pronto. Probably a little estradiol gets swallowed anyway due to saliva finding its way around. So, me avoiding alcohol is a key factor in keeping my liver healthy enough.

As part of my mentoring process for trans girls, I strongly advocate that a girl should get her dietary habits and blood chemistry commendably under control before she goes on hormones and ends up miserable or dead.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Risk of Feminizing Hormones, Dramatized

  1. I don’t know how you make these posts appropriate for what I’m going through but thanks. I knew about the potassium problems associated with the hormones I’m on but not the sodium issues.
    Thanks again
    Davina

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