For the past few weeks I’ve been doing a bit of research regarding testosterone. I don’t know what prompted this seemingly sudden interest in T, but perhaps this lingering curiosity is a telltale sign of something else.
Here’s a testosterone primer for those in the not-know. (Note: There are a lot more resources that explain this much more in depth, which are listed at the bottom of the post.) Typically, FTMs, or female-bodied transgender people, opt to take testosterone, or T, as a way to masculinize their body in a quick, visible, and (compared to surgery) relatively cheap manner.
The primary effects of testosterone can be divided into permanent and non-permanent changes; that is, some things will not revert back to pre-testosterone even if intake is halted, and some things will.
- deeper voice
- facial hair and body hair
- enlargement of clitoris
- potential male-pattern baldness
- possible shrinkage of breasts
- more muscles
- re-distribution of fat and muscles to a more masculine shape, less hips and slimmer butt but more belly
- menstruation stops
- oily and coarser skin
- increased libido
- body odor changes
The degree and time of onset of each attribute highly varies between individuals. For instance, some people will sprout facial hair within a few weeks, while it takes others months to see any. The best bet is usually genetics – look at your male family members’ puberty and that’s what you’ll get. While on average most people will see similar changes, it makes the effects of T particularly unpredictable in terms of which changes will come and when.
Most people who start T are quite excited about it and the changes they’ll see, so they take the standard dose. It occurred to me to ponder, what would happen if you just take a much smaller dose than normal? Then, after you see enough of the changes you want, you stop.
My theory is that you would see the same changes, but much more gradually. Furthermore, because your body has more time to adjust, some of the potentially negative effects can be offset. For instance, for a lot of transguys on T, their voice starts to crack, just like a teenage boy’s, where it gets higher for a little bit before it gets lower again. But following my theory, this becomes more unlikely (although not unavoidable) to happen if you do it slowly enough. Also, for someone who only wants certain changes and is very afraid of others, taking a smaller dose prolongs the window of change and makes it easier to control the extent of them. That is, if you start to see something you don’t like, you can stop immediately before it amplifies.
Of course, this is all just a theory in my head. Turns out a) there is very little information on this, and b) there is very little information on this. So here’s the very little information I’ve managed to get, that more or less confirms my assumptions, sort of.
I stumbled onto Baker’s videos on YouTube. He started on a low dose of injectable testosterone. The changes I saw in his 2 month and 3 month videos stirred a strong desire in me to obtain exactly that. By 6 months he’s looking great, although it would already be too much for what I’m intending.
Another two people also posted YouTube videos. Yan starts at a 3 month video and then a 5 month video. Leo was taking a cream as opposed to injections. Furthermore, only Leo stopped taking testosterone at one point and reported the changes. This is another point of mystery for me, because people rarely stop T, especially after such a short period of taking it. (That is, those who do stop T generally do it after being on it for years.)
The more I saw the videos the more convinced I was that it’s possible to obtain gradual and desired changes. As I kept alternating between them to analyze their progression, I consciously made note of my slight obsession with this, and realized it may be something I truly want to pursue.
Intrigued? I’ll discuss my fears and desires more concretely in the next post.
- Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide – FTM Testosterone Basics
- TransHealth Brochure – Hormones: A Guide for FTMs
- Wikipedia – HRT FTM
17 thoughts on “Testosterone, part 1”
A few months ago I looked into stopping T –without any real plans to take action, kind of like you– and here’s what I found (though, like you said, most people stop T after a long time):
PS: Congrats on the engagement and the new job! 🙂
Perhaps it is a bit symmetrical but I just started spironolactone (for its off-label androgen inhibitor use) and will be starting estrogen soon.
It’s interesting to see that there’s not much information out there … I wonder if by talking directly to a doctor if they’d know anymore. But if people generally don’t try this kind of route they might not have any extra information either, hmm.
Great resources, I will check them out once I am not-at-work!
Interesting…. I’m going to hit you up with more details for some research I’m doing on Neutrois transitioning. I obviously don’t know much about the MTN side.
Yeah, I spoke to the doctor. She basically repeated what’s written here, and said I might just look like a 15 instead of a 14 year old boy, or a someone with a hormone imbalance :S
There’s more info on that in the next post.
So the T in LGBT is for testosterone? (Just a joke.)
or totally terrific? no, then we’d need 2 T’s.
In Argentina we often say “LGBTTT”! (the T’s stand for transexuales, transgéneros y travestis)
I’ve been thinking the exact same thing for a couple weeks now. Sorry I didn’t write about it sooner–you had to do all the research by yourself! Sorry!
If you do try the “t but not too much” experiment, I hope you’ll blog about it! My present hormonal compromise is a Mirena IUD. It releases low doses of progesterone, which helps keep away monthly estrogen spikes and periods. Also the hormones from breastfeeding–which keeps me from contemplating T for myself in the near term. I doubt anyone has studied the effects of T on milk supply or its presence in milk if the lactating parent has it in their bloodstream. Or have they?…
They have somewhat studied the effects of T on pregnancy and breastmilk and the general advice is: don’t, it can have detrimental effects. Transmen who get pregnant and/or breastfeed are told to get off T.
I will most likely try the “not too much T” very soon, and I will certainly blog about. It’s a good excuse to get me back on track.