As a sexuality educator I have understood for years the impact of hormones on our bodies during puberty, pregnancy and menopause and over the past few years working in an LGBTI organisation I have also learned from my transgender friends the positive impact of hormones on transitioning to be your true self.
The past few weeks has shown me the impact, in not such a positive way, hormones can change your mental health and the person you are. Menopause has been part of my life for the past 3 years and really I have done pretty well compared to most women. Hot flushes were the start and they were easily controlled with low dose hormones, tho it took a bit of juggling to get the levels right and in the mean time weight gain was sudden and unexpected, this levelled out once the right level of hormones was achieved. Over the next 2 years these hormones were decreased slowly, but the fatigue and lack of libido continued. This meant more research into what are the options to feel like me again, androgens seem to be the answer. A trial of HRT that included androgens with oestrogen and progesterone saw a slight improvement, but it was then suggested to go off all HRT (as I was barely on any) and let my natural androgens rise.....6 months later ....no difference.
So after doing more research I discovered an androgen cream for women, other women I spoke to had great things to say but it was hard to fins someone to prescribe it. Off to the gyno and this is when things went awry....."lets try hormone patches" was the answer, you absorb more hormones from them than tablets and no testosterone for women until you try this.....ok....
Well 24 hrs after the first patch and a stranger appeared, a woman who cried all the time, not just silent tears but heaving sobs, over any little thing. Any comment ever so simple or even caring would elicit tears, yes I had become more sensitive and even cried at movies over the years but this was ridiculous.
It took a couple of patches before I saw the pattern, my poor partner was not sure of who this person was...and it brought back memories of 15 years ago when I was prescribed an oestrogen cream and I did not need it...mood swings, tears and wondering who was this person I had become. Off to the GP and told to remove the patch and get back to the gyno....it took about 4 days to start to feel like myself again....now to go back and insist on the androgen cream and see how we go.
The moral of this story?
Hormones can have an amazing effect on us, both positive and in some cases negative....anyone who remembers puberty, pregnancy or PMS will understand....if you are suddenly feeling a bit like some other person....get them checked.
Hormones effect our skin, our bodies, our libido, our minds, our emotions....they can support our journey to our truth, as they do for transgender people or they can bring us to the depths of despair......do not underestimate their power to make us feel terrible or wonderful.
This hormonal journey continues..............
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.