Friday, 9 March 2012

Hormones!

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Many of us have heard before about the importance of hormones during childbirth and breastfeeding. Natural oxytocin, together with other hormones in a "love cocktail", can help you transcend the pain often associated with labour and then assist you in falling head over heels for, and breastfeeding, your baby. I am lucky enough to have had the pleasure of listening, live, to the renowned obstetrician Michel Odent speak in his lovely French accent about “ze luuuuuve coq-tail-uh”. It’s enough to make even the most prudish gay man swoon. You, too, can enjoy Mr. Odent by watching him on YouTube here.

portrait of Odent
Dr. Michel Odent

But my own hormones cause people a little confusion sometimes, so with this post I’ll attempt to clear things up. “How do you know that this is safe for your baby, what with all those hormones you’re taking?Number one most common misconception about a transgender pregnancy: people tend to assume that I continued to take testosterone while carrying the baby.

I can see how someone might think this. After all, my voice remained low, and I continued to grow facial hair, and these are (wonderfully for me) masculine traits. However, once testosterone thickened my vocal chords, ceasing injecting it into myself could never thin them. This is why male to female transsexuals often spend much time and energy learning how to speak in a higher-pitched, female voice – it is not easy to sound feminine once they have gone through a biologically male puberty (and, for the record, it's actually all way more complicated than I'm making it seem, so if you like you can read up on it here). Again, after testosterone use had developed new hair follicles on my face, nothing but electrolysis could permanently remove my beard, as female to male transsexuals unfortunately know all too well. As an aside, this is a large part of the argument in favour of providing transgender teens with hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty – as a trans kid, once puberty hits, it’s like you’ve boarded a fast-moving express train with zero stops to a country you have no desire to visit. Oh, right, and there is NO train that can take you back unless you practically build the tracks (and train) yourself.

On the other hand, testosterone leaves the bloodstream and tissues within ten days, said my endocrinologist. We consulted with him about the idea of trying to conceive, and he paused for a few minutes, looking thoughtful. Then he said, “well, just stop taking the testosterone, and wait for your cycles to return to normal. When they do, you’ll know that you are ready to try. The eggs should still be there…. I can’t see any problem. If I think of anything else, I’ll get back to you.” He never did.

Within two weeks of my last testosterone injection, I got a period. My cycles were immediately regular, even to the time of day, but we waited through four or five of them before trying. We got pregnant on the first attempt, and the entire pregnancy was utterly normal and healthy, as is our child.

I haven’t started taking testosterone again yet because it would seriously inhibit the hormones that affect breastfeeding, plus we haven’t decided for the time being if we’d like to have more kids. Gotta learn how to take care of this 11 month old little ball of energy first!

1 comment:

  1. An interesting story about the hormones and the subsequent implications for you. Thanks for sharing.

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