Estrogen HRT and LDL Cholesterol

The HRT regimen that my health car professional has suggested is a combination of Spironolactone (“spiro”) and Estrogen. This fits well with what I’ve read on the subject.

Before either of these were prescribed, I was sent to a lab for blood tests. The tests show that I’m in fine shape as to starting Spironolactone, and so this was prescribed. As to Estrogen, the LDL ratio in my blood was too high, and so taking Estrogen would be unsafe.

LDL is an acronym for low-density lipoproteins a.k.a. “bad cholesterol” even though technically LDL isn’t actually cholesterol, according to Wikipedia. LDL basically builds up plaque in the arteries, which (estrogen or no estrogen) is a serious health risk. Violence and car crashes aside, the high ratio of LDL is the largest risk to my health.

I resolved to eat better and exercise more, and I did. I focused on ab and butt exercises, plus various belly dancing routines. I ate more fiber, including more peas, beans and oatmeal, and I also ate more nuts, salmon and olive oil. Two months later, the results of the next blood test showed no improvement. In fact, the LDL ratio had actually gotten worse. So, no estrogen for me, any time soon.  Besides, the numbers were so bad that I needed to pursue a correction aggressively.

My mom is a dietician so I asked her advice. She explained that I was on the right track but needed to remove cheddar cheese from my diet (I was eating a lot of that) and get more sleep. And, she advise that I focus on more yet of all the good things that I was already doing. My mom reminded me that all my muscle-building exercises were no substitute for some intense cardio, and that I needed to exercise intensely enough to get my heart rate up and keep it there for a while.

My mom had had a client with a similar dilemma, and my mom has looked into the medication that her client was considering, as prescribed by her physician. The side effects were so problematic that my mom, no stranger to side effects herself, suggested making that medication a last resort only after diet and exercise had been optimized. She gave me the same advice. Ironically, this conversation occurred the evening before Thanksgiving, November 26th.

For many in the US, Thanksgiving Day is the one day of the year when they eat too much. For me, it would be the first day of eating exceptionally well, and exercising intensely too. And so it was.

A few years ago, I made some custom software that tracks what I eat, and here is a screen-shot of what yesterday looked like until about 11 p.m. after which I had three more cups of coffee, two glasses of water and a square of dark chocolate.

TGDAY

A key principle that helps me is to consider every calorie to be precious and to use every one wisely, for maximum fiber, protein, Omega-3 and the good sort of fat (unsaturated fat). And, with all the protein I’m eating plus being on Spiro, I need to drink A LOT of water. So, I did. By bedtime I’d had 25 eight-ounce glasses of water, either pure or in coffee or milk.

Here’s an example of my reasoning, in case it helps you: HDL is an acronym for high-density lipoproteins a.k.a. “good cholesterol” even though technically HDL isn’t actually cholesterol, according to Wikipedia. HDL basically removes plaque build-up from the arteries, which is a very good thing. Niacin (Vitamin B3) can play a role in increased HDL, so making sure I get enough of that would be good. That’s why I eat wholewheat bread. But, I just read the label carefully. A 120-calorie slice provides only 6% of the Niacin I need. I’d have to eat an entire loaf of bread per day to get enough Niacin from bread, and then I’d have used up my calorie quota for the day with all sorts of important nutrients having been neglected. So, then I read that peanut butter is a good source of niacin, as are eggs (because these contain Tryptophan, which breaks down as Niacin). And since I already eat decent amounts of peanut butter and eggs, I can stop being concerned about my Niacin even if I reduce the amount of bread in my diet.

As to exercise, I had decided on dancing, and so I huffed and puffed while refining my dance moves.

After two months of this, we’ll see that the next blood test shows.

Spironolactone and Electrolyte Balance: All Good

The nice professional lady who manages my health issues specific to hormone replacement therapy called today to discuss the findings of my latest blood test, now that I’ve been on spironolactone (“spiro”) for two months, at a mild dosage of 100mg per day.

NOV26_2The main risk of spiro is that … well, let me see if I can explain it in a way that does justice to what my (late) dad explained to me, plus having read up about it on Wikipedia.

The body uses potassium and sodium for muscle function. When a muscle contracts, it’s due to the sodium and potassium interacting in a particular way.  So, the body needs both sodium and potassium for the muscles to function. An imbalance would be bad. Muscles can start to fail. That includes the heart muscle. An extreme imbalance can cause heart failure.  In fact, officially administered lethal injections (as in, capital punishment in the US) kill by inducing an extreme imbalance. Bottom line: maintaining a good potassium-sodium balance is vital.

One of the chemicals in the human body is Aldosterone.  It help the body manage its potassium-sodium balance by causing sodium to be retained while causing potassium to be excreted. A side effect it that: it helps the body retain water too.

Spiro interferes with Aldosterone thus making it less effective.  So, the body excretes more sodium and retains more potassium, basically a double whammy likely to cause a potassium-sodium imbalance.

NOV26_3Being aware of this risk, I modified my eating habits so that I ate fewer bananas, tomatoes and potatoes. I also avoided manufactured items high in potassium. For example, low-sodium V8 vegetable juice is very high in potassium, so I avoid that and I drink the regular V8 vegetable juice.

As to the water that my body now doesn’t retain as well as it normally does, I drink much more water to try to compensate. This doesn’t counteract the effects of spiro but my reasoning is: whatever amount of water the body is willing to retain, I want to ensure that such water is available, i.e., that a lack of water is never a contributing factor as to my body retaining less water than it should.

NOV26_1As it turns out, whatever I’ve been doing is working beautifully. My blood test results show my potassium-sodium balance as being spot-on. So, I seem to have navigated this particular mine-field well. Yay!

When taking hormones or hormone-affecting chemicals, it’s wise to start modestly and to have the results monitored regularly and professionally — and to increase the intensity only when things are safe. So, now that this particular test has shown such good results, I have the official green light to increase my daily intake to 200mg instead of 100mg. I’m excited!

spiroWith the stakes now higher, this means I have to drink water more diligently yet, and take in more sodium yet, and eat yet fewer potassium-rich foods.  Probably my occasional glass of V-8 vegetable juice will become a daily event instead, and I’ll eat fewer potatoes yet.

The pictures of me, shown here, are all from today.
 

 

Curves to Die for … Wait, What?

I have a high level of enthusiasm for my too-androgynously-shaped body to become more curvy, i.e. more feminine. But, I’m not willing to run a high risk of dying to achieve that. Some t-girls are.

Some time ago, I was chatting with a gentleman who’d had a t-girl as his girlfriend. He mentioned that she’s dead now, in an “of course” manner. Wait, what? Yes, he explained, she took hormones, had a heart attack and died. It happens. The way he said it, I gathered it happens often in t-girl circles. Wow.

More recently, another conversation, another gentleman, and this one used to be married to a young-ish t-girl, sadly now also dead. Wow.

I’m all for looking more feminine but being cautious is the better way.  I did a lot of reading before I went on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  I read that estrogen increases the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke due to a blood clot forming, often in the legs, and then traveling to a fatal place.  The higher an individual’s blood cholesterol, the higher the risk of this sort of thing happening.

Imagine how impressed I was when the very professional folks at Planned Parenthood, whom I’d chosen to manage my HRT journey, first sent me to a lab to get my blood drawn and analyzed.  I was even more impressed when the lady in charge told me sympathetically but firmly that my blood cholesterol readings weren’t horrible but also not great, and too high for estrogen to be a safe choice for me.  However, a testosterone blocker, such as spironolactone, was viable, and that would already have some benefit. I’d start at a low dosage.

This was done. At least, I’d started. That meant a lot to me.

[Note: A wise, caring and helpful gentleman has commented on this post, and his input plus some additional reading I’d done have helped me understand that it’s an oversimplification for me to refer to spiro as a testosterone blocker. The issue is more complex in many ways. Please see the comments below for details.]

What meant more yet was how prudently my health was being managed.

Since then, I’ve been eating more and more healthily, including and especially foods that help with my blood cholesterol level. I recently had my blood pressure measured, and it’s 120 over 70, which is very good. In the long run, blood pressure readings tell much of the story.  It’s not yet time to go for a second blood test, but I’m hopeful the blood cholesterol reading will be much better. And, if they’re not, then I’ll eat more healthily yet until things do improve.

ASS01AMeanwhile, I do what I can with what I have.  This picture shows what my butt looks like without HRT.  Yes, it could be a lot more curvy and feminine, but I can’t will it so. The best I can do is to pursue a diligent routine of butt exercises.

I also eat enough protein with the right mix of essential amino acids to make sure I have the dietary building blocks for becoming more muscular you-know-where, as a result of all this exercising. To quote SFGate:

You need essential amino acids in your daily diet because your body cannot make them. If you do not get essential amino acids in your diet, proteins break down, resulting in muscle loss and problems with repair. Amino acids, which are building blocks of proteins, can be essential, non-essential or conditional. Non-essential and conditional amino acids are made in your system, so you do not need to worry about consuming them each day. Knowing which foods provide all or some of the essential amino acids helps you make sure you body gets adequate amounts.

And, one day, when I finally do have a curvy-enough butt, I plan to look good on the beach, not in the morgue.

 

Symptom #5 of Feminizing Hormones

NEW-55Aggg
This particular blog post discusses the effect that hormones are having on how sexually aroused I generally am.

[For younger readers: Presumably, this feeling isn’t new to you even if you’re not yet the age of consent. Grumpy adults who might think this subject matter is too risqué for teenage readers need only to remember their own feelings at age 15 or so, and that should help them mellow out a bit. If you’re younger than horny-teenager age, and you’re reading this, then yeah, probably it’s not age-appropriate for you. Sorry … and, no offense intended.]

So, as to the main subject matter:

My brain structure is female, and has always been. As to my body parts ‘down there,’ I haven’t had reshaping surgery there, so every morning I wake up with a male-shaped body ‘down there.’ In the past, that particular body part has indeed been the source of pleasure for me (and not just for me, but let’s focus on my solo activities here; they parallel the non-solo activities well, in this case).

The sex researcher Kinsey found that, as a rule, humans masturbate often — very often. Since most of us are unaware of how popular a pastime this is, each of us tends to have an exaggerated opinion of our own level of activity. By this (false) conservative standard, we’re a very horny species (and so are dolphins and several other mammals) because we’re engaged in self-love, very often daily, often more than once per day, sometimes many times per day.

If by now you haven’t concluded that masturbation is a normal and fine part of life, then, wow, you’re reading the wrong blog.

My own journey in this regard has two separate themes: focusing on the body part in front, or alternatively on the one on which I sit. The former is the subject of this blog post.

The self-pleasuring process typically includes me being emotionally aroused, then getting physically aroused (with things becoming large and erect) and then there’s a climax and things physically go back to the size and shape as before.

Problem is, with feminizing hormones, the “things becoming large and erect” and the “there’s a climax” portions of the agenda become more and more difficult to attain, and yes, even after only six weeks, I’m now experiencing that.

Knowing this, I hesitate to even start because the, um, process is taking longer and longer time to complete. At this rate, I can easily envision a situation where one day it becomes impossible difficult, and that will be a very frustrating day for me. And that day isn’t far away, at the rate things are progressing.

So, for the same reason as I don’t start a 60-mile drive with only a gallon of fuel in the tank of my car, my new policy is: don’t start.

It’s not an easy policy. On days when I don’t adhere to it, it’s not like I feel like a failure. It just means that I need to exercise yet more self-control. Even so, I have been able to adhere to my new policy for many weeks on end.

The net effect on me is a smoldering, always-there undertone of sexual arousal. It seems to make me exude sexuality. I feel like the hot blonde in a cheesy perfume ad.

Girls smile at me in a way that seems extra warm, and guys are a lot less subtle. I experience many gallant actions, and I get hit on much more frequently, sometimes blatantly. Last night, I was walking to the movies, and a gentleman walked past me, made a u-turn and started chatting me up. He was very charming and persuasive (though not enough to end up in bed with me which was the agenda; he was quite clear as to that).

And yet … I know I don’t look all that different from how I looked six weeks ago. I think my sexually simmering attitude is what’s different.

So, do feminizing hormones make a transgender girl more sexually aroused? Normally no. The way I am dealing with the situation: very much so, yes.

Lastly: someone has suggested that me delighting in my lingerie, such as posting such pictures,  is not typical female-culture behavior, and I’m sure she’s 100% right. However, I’m not universally trying to emulate  typical female-culture behavior so as to come across as more feminine.

While typical female-culture behavior is my guideline, the only I way that I managed to figure out that I might be a female brain-wise is due to all the feminine-mindset behavior that has been boiling up in me ever since I can remember.  In that context, living with a male-shaped body and trying to fit into male culture, and then finally being free of both .. to me those are positively delightful events for me so I am indeed giddily happy about it, while I totally concede the point that girls don’t normally delight in their lingerie and how they look therein. I see parallels to the female character in the movie “My  Mom’s New Boyfriend” who used to be very unhealthy and overweight and now she’s SO happy to be in good shape.

Symptom #3 of Feminizing Hormones: Me, Emotional

Someone near and dear to me explained to me how I might become an emotional basket case when I go on feminizing hormones. It sounds daunting but even so, if that’s part of experiencing femininity in all its glory, I’m all for it.

I’ve been on this stuff for maybe 2 weeks by now.

Yesterday I felt an unusual-for-me need to reminisce about a romantic relationship that ended last year, and as a result, I ended up sitting in a brightly lighted restaurant …  crying, with a waiter looking at me with a “WTF, lady?” expression on his face.

I guess it’s all part of the experience, wow. This could get interesting. There’s certainly a lot to cry about, in terms of people who have come and gone.

Even before I started taking feminizing hormones I’d cry at sad or moving parts in movies. A former girlfriend liked watching the “Mean Girls” movie with me because it fascinated her that I’d always cry during one particular scene in the movie even though I’d seen it SO many times.

Buy stock in the company that makes Kleenex, people … it’s going to do well.

Incidentally, here’s what my big fake boobs and I look like tonight. No, I don’t have a Hitler mustache. It’s a weird shadow effect of the lighting.NEW-16

First Two Noticeable Effect of Feminizing Hormones

I’ve been on anti-androgyns (spironolactone) for maybe a couple of weeks now, and suddenly I can relate to the female experience where the room temperature is in the 70s or low 80s, and it feels TOO HOT!

Also, my eyes are more dry. I bought some lubricating eye drops today.

No round and gorgeous butt or size DDD boobies in the mirror yet, dangit.

Interesting process …