HORMONES: DREAM GOAL OR TIME BOMB?
By Anonymous, GIC Inc.


        There are an extremely high number of people with the
[Gender community] today who have begun hormone therapy.  Most
people are blind to the potential side effects of this activity,
and many are misinformed regarding the consequences of being on
hormones.  Hormones are not "happy pills", or "breast pills";
hormones are not an innocent drug to be used within the
play-fantasy world.
         The following information is provided by Ayerst
Laboratories, Inc., the manufacturer of Premarin:  You should not
take more estrogen than your doctor prescribes.  It is important
to take the lowest possible dose of estrogen and to take it only
as long as is needed.  Your doctor should re-evaluate your
physical condition every six months.  You may have heard that
taking estrogens for long periods (years) will keep your skin
soft and supple and keep you feeling young.  There is no evidence
that this is so, however, and such long term treatment carries
important risks.  Estrogens increase the potential for cancers of
the breast and/or liver, as well as gall bladder disease when
taken over long periods, especially if there is a history of
breast cancer within your family.  Estrogens increase the risk of
blood clotting in various parts of the body.  This can result in
a stroke if the clot is in (or moves into) the brain, or can
result in a heart attack or angina (clot in a blood vessel of the
heart), or a pulmonary embolus (a clot which forms in the legs or
pelvis, then breaks off and travels to the lungs.)(This
possibility increases with the dosage taken.) Any of these can be
fatal.
        There are other side affects as well.  The most common is
nausea, and vomiting.  Another common side effect is mental
depression.  (This would be in addition to whatever you might now
be experiencing as a result of your gender conflict.)  Estrogens
may cause breast tenderness, and may cause the breasts to secrete
a liquid. These side effects are not dangerous, but consider the
effects these might have on your normal (male) job, particularly
if you carry things or move things.  (When bumped, the pain of a
tender breast is not unlike a poke in the testicles.)  It is also
possible to contact yellow jaundice, especially if you have had
it in the past.  Estrogens may cause excess fluid to be retained
in the body.  This may make some conditions worse, such as
asthma, epilepsy, migraine, heart disease, or kidney disease.
        Estrogens have serious risks.  You must decide, with your
doctor, whether the risks are acceptable to you.
        In addition to the information from Ayerst, you should be
aware that generic estrogens, while they may represent a savings
of money, carry a special danger.  Generic medications cost less
because they are manufactured with much looser quality control
standards. For example, the dosage tolerance for generic
estrogens is +30%! This means that from day to day you could
experience 60% dosage swings.  Because hormones (in general) act
as triggers, or as catalysts, for many important bodily
functions, these swings in dosage will severely upset your body. 
A number of people have reported massive mood swings while on
generic estrogen, leading generally downhill (worsening mental
depressions).  Your body cannot quickly adjust its ability to
make its own hormones, in response to sudden changes in dosage,
or to changes when hormones are available through your digestive
or muscular system.
        In other words, if you really must, use a good quality
estrogen only, and use it on a regular (same time each day)
basis.
         In males, very large dosages of estrogens, besides
generating the risks listed by Ayerst Labs, will cause atrophy of
the penis. Remembering that penile skin becomes the vagina, this
means that you will end up with a very shallow vagina!  Is that a
worthwhile trade for the possibility of all the health problems
described earlier?
         There seems to be a large amount of misinformation among
the gender conflicted population concerning breast development. 
One theory is that if you stop taking hormones the breasts will
go away. This is NOT true.  Depending on the amount of
development, breasts may reduce in size a slight amount; there
are a significant number of people who have found it necessary to
bind down (Ace bandage?) their breasts in order to obtain
employment in the male role after spending time on estrogens. 
This is especially bothersome in hot and/or humid climates, and
may not be practical for a given job situation.
        Taking estrogens in large doses will not necessarily
cause breasts to grow as large as you think you want them, and
especially will not cause them to grow as quickly as you think
you want them to. Breast development potential is determined by
your genetics; if your mother, sister(s), or other close blood
relatives are small breasted, you will likely be small breasted
as well.  Having well endowed blood relatives does not, however,
guarantee "adequate" breast development. In any event, genetic
woman's bodies develop breasts, generally, over a period of a few
years.  You cannot expect your body to change any quicker.
        Be aware, also, of the possibility of sudden growth
spurts in the size of your breasts.  There are many cases of
impatient people having silicon breast implants after a few
months on estrogens, only to have their natural breast suddenly
develop shortly after, leaving them with overly large breasts. 
These in turn cause discomfort, backaches, etc., as they would
for any other woman.
         "But if I grow breasts, I have to live as a woman then! 
That would be OK!"  NO, NO, NO!  You may feel that you "have to
live as a woman", but the world does not have to accept you as a
woman just because of breast development.  The world will NOT
accept you as a woman based upon breast development alone.
        Another bit of mis-information concerns taking estrogens
to reduce or eliminate facial hair - to get rid of a beard.  This
is NOT true, either.  After a lengthy period of time on
estrogens, your body hair may become softer, and may not grow as
fast, but estrogens will not affect the quantity or quality of
facial hair.  The only way to permanently eliminate facial hair
is professional electrolysis. Estrogens can make the process of
electrolysis more painful and time consuming because estrogens
make your skin softer and more sensitive.
        As a (genetic/born) male on estrogens, there are a number
of other potential problems to consider as well.  Your ability to
have sex as a male will be greatly reduced, or eliminated.  This
includes masturbation.  If you do engage in sex, even
occasionally, you will find that your penis is very tender, and
that erections have become painful. The relatively sudden loss of
sexual function as a male may very likely cause prostate
infections with symptoms very similar to many venereal diseases
(discharge, painful urination, etc.).
        The loss of desire for sex, and the pain from having it,
present another interesting problem.  Many post-operative people
report that the ability to have orgasm as a woman is directly
related to whether your body remembers how to orgasm at all.  It
appears that having orgasms up to the time of surgery allows
orgasms to continue after surgery.  This situation is even more
complex because telling nearly any psychiatric/psychological
professional that you have sex to orgasm as a male will usually
result in a loss of recommendation for sex reassignment surgery.
        In addition to all of this, after a period of time on
hormones, you will be permanently sterile, sexually; going off of
the hormones will not restore your fertility.
        You may find an interesting "Catch-22" connected with
taking estrogens in that while your body becomes feminized, your
desire for that effect may be severely reduced.  The loss of
control over your emotions, coupled with increased risk of mental
depression, may leave you crying suddenly over nothing!  Or
worse, it may leave you suddenly crying in the middle of a
meeting with your co-workers, supervisors, etc.  The feminization
of your features will likely leave ;you with a very androgynous
appearance, not fitting either gender role, which is
disconcerting to many other people (employers, clients,
customers, etc.) and which could likely affect your ability to
hold any job, especially one with any responsibility (with any
reasonable paycheck).
        "But I know I can stop taking hormones as easily as I
started on them . . . "  This is not true.  Your body requires
hormones from some source.  After it becomes conditioned to
receiving the hormones of shot and/or pills, it will take some
time to begin developing its own hormones again.  During this
period the reduction or lack of hormones necessary for
functioning will be felt acutely, as depression, lethargy, and
irritability.  As crippling as these symptoms are, they are
nothing compared to the return of male hormones to your system.
With the return of testosterone, you will experience sudden
intense periods of aggression, belligerence, and driven
compulsions that characterize the male reality.  These will be
especially difficult to deal with, both for you and for the
people around you, as your system has forgotten all of the
control mechanisms it had to learn in adolescence. These
behaviors, emotions, etc. make going off of hormones as difficult
as stopping any drug.  Hormones are every bit as addictive as any
drug available!
        You must fully recognize the addictive nature of the
hormones, and the health risks associated with the use of
hormones. You must then also fully recognize that continued use
of the hormones will cause you to change into an androgyne,
making any plans of regaining the credibility and social
acceptance of a male very difficult.  And finally, you must
accept that the world does not have to accept you as a woman, and
will not, based only on a few flimsy visual clues.
        Taking estrogens, and/or any other hormone therapy is a
dangerous procedure mentally, physically, emotionally, and
socially. Taking estrogens without the supervision of therapists
and physicians is setting a course for personal disaster.  The
potential for the benefits MUST be weighed against the certainty
of the losses.
                 SOURCE:  GIC, Inc., Denver, CO. Copyright 1988 

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