Can Transgender Women Have Periods?
Transgender women can undergo gender-affirming treatments, such as hormone therapy. As a side effect of hormone therapy, they may experience symptoms similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS-menstrual) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD) is a picture that is seen in the majority of women of childbearing age as menstruation approaches, accompanied by psychological symptoms as well as physical complaints.
Some symptoms of PMS and PMDD are physical, while others are emotional or psychological.
In this article, we discuss whether trans women may experience symptoms similar to PMS. We also look at symptoms that can result from hormone therapy and provide tips on how to watch for them.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) states that the menstrual cycle is a period during which blood containing the uterine lining leaves the body. People who do not have ovaries and uterus do not menstruate.
However, PMS and PMDD are terms that refer to the physical and emotional symptoms that people may experience before their periods begin. These conditions occur due to fluctuations in hormones.
The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS but more severe.
Transgender women can transition in a number of ways. One way a person can transition is to use sex-affirming hormone therapy.
Transgender women on hormone therapy can take oral, transdermal, or injectable versions of estrogen. They may also use anti-androgens such as progesterone.
The anti-androgen most commonly prescribed by healthcare professionals is spironolactone, but they may also prescribe progesterone.
Hormone therapy for transgender women aims to help alleviate gender dysphoria in several ways. It includes:
- changing how the body distributes fat
- promoting breast growth
- reduce male pattern hair growth
Estrogen can affect the body in a variety of ways, and trans women can experience a variety of side effects when taking supplemental estrogen. Progesterone can also cause side effects.
Although researchers have not studied this area of trans health, the International Association of Premenstrual Disorders (IAPD) notes that hormones can cause symptoms similar to those of PMDD.
Therefore, while transgender women may not experience the bleeding part of their menstrual cycle, they may experience other PMDD-like symptoms such as sore breasts, rapid mood swings, and irritability.
How Do Trans Women Experience Menstrual Symptoms?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that transgender women experience PMS or PMDD-like symptoms at the same time each month. However, researchers have not examined this area of transgender health.
The IAPD suggests that some trans women may be more sensitive to estrogen hormones than others. This increased sensitivity can lead to PMDD-like symptoms.
Emotional and Psychological Experiences
Some trans women report emotional and psychological symptoms similar to PMS.
The Office of Women’s Health states that these symptoms can include:
- sleeping too much or too little
- appetite changes
- rapid changes in mood
- Loss of interest in sex
Both progesterone and estrogen can cause irritability and rapid mood swings. Estrogen injections can also cause other symptoms, such as anxiety, because they lead to high, fluctuating estrogen levels.
Possible physical symptoms of PMS in women include:
- swollen or tender breasts
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea
- appetite changes
Some trans women may experience some of these symptoms as a result of hormone therapy, including headaches and swollen, tender breasts.
Tips for Watching for PMS-Like Symptoms
Trans women can track their symptoms in a variety of ways, the simplest being keeping a diary. People can note which symptoms they are experiencing and when, which can help them discover any patterns.
Another option is to use a period tracking app. Several free and inclusive apps allow people to enter a variety of symptoms. After a few cycles, the app can begin to predict when a person will experience symptoms.
It is important to discuss any adverse symptoms or changes with a healthcare professional. Tracking their symptoms can help people determine what is normal for them and what is not.
How to be a friend
There are many ways to be friendly to transgender people.
Don’t make assumptions about a person’s gender or sexual orientation
People should only use pronouns that the person uses when introducing themselves. Those who are unsure should ask that person rather than risk misgendering.
It’s also important to remember that transgender people may be heterosexual, gay, lesbian or bisexual, or have another romantic or sexual orientation.
People should not automatically assume that transgender people have a particular sexual orientation.
Don’t ask a person what their ‘real name’ is
Many transgender people change their name to one that reflects who they are, rather than using the name they received at birth. Unless otherwise stated, it is important to use the name by which the person introduces himself.
People should also avoid asking a trans person what their “real name” is. This question implies that the name they gave does not invalidate who they are, but rather overrides them.
Don’t assume that someone has to transition a certain way to be transgender.
People can switch in different ways. Some people can transition socially, while others can transition with the help of hormones and gender confirmation procedures like surgery.
It is important to never say that a person is not trans because they do not switch in a certain way.
Similarly, people should never ask a trans person what their genitals are or ask invasive questions about their sex life. These questions are generally not appropriate to ask anyone, and transgender people are no exception.
It is important to advocate for inclusion as a friend. Working with and listening to transgender people can help people make suggestions that will make schools, workplaces and other spaces more inclusive.
Transgender women may experience physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms similar to PMS if they use hormone therapy. Hormone therapy can have many side effects, including breast tenderness and rapid changes in mood.
People can track their symptoms in a variety of ways. Doing so can help them realize that certain symptoms are unusual for them.
Bringing this information to a healthcare professional can also make it easier for them to offer appropriate treatment if needed.
Source: MedicalNewsToday. 2021. Can transgender women have a period?
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