It’s been almost two months since I stopped taking estrogen and I thought I’d recap the changes. I had taken estradiol mostly on and off since May 18, 2011, and in the seven months I was on it, I experienced a number of changes including softer skin, breast growth, a lessening of my libido, and an increased sense of inner calmness.
Sadly, the inner calmness was offset by huge stressors late in the year, including my mom needing heart surgery and the almost dissolution of my marriage. I stopped taking HRT because I was unwilling to face losing my family and I realized that there was too much other stuff going on in my life and my family’s life to be able to transition without having my head explode.
If you’ve taken or plan on taking estrogen, you know or will discover that your boobs hurt when they’re growing. And not only do they hurt, they’re tender to boot, and getting them jostled or bumped can be quite painful. The locus of this pain for me was in the breast buds out to the nipples.
Within about two weeks of stopping estrogen, the pain and sensitivity had decreased by at least 80% and they had reverted to the previous sensitivity by about four weeks.
I did grow some breast tissue while I was on HRT and most of it remains, but my breasts don’t look as large as they did before. What shrunk were the breast buds, which seemed to drive quite a bit of the prominence from my chest. While I grew to an A cup, I’ve since shrunk down to an AA and they’d probably go even smaller if I lost some of the body fat I’ve accumulated in the past year due to low physical activity.
Another change has been in the nipples. They had noticeably darkened and swollen up a bit as the breast buds expanded, but by about six weeks post-HRT, I’d say about 75% of the increased pigmentation and 100% of the size had reverted to where I was before.
While I’ll admit that it’s been nice not having to worry about bumping or having to hide my chest at work, I miss some of the other, ah, sensitivity losses in this area. I am also finding that I have a sense of loss about the size decreasing and some anxiousness about if they would grow back if I started HRT again.
The skin changes have been more gradual. My skin isn’t as rough as it was before I started, but it’s heading back in that direction. I miss my soft skin. Within about two weeks post-HRT, my acne kicked in with a vengeance, particularly in areas of my body that I hadn’t seen acne on since I went through puberty in my teens. Ugh. It’s mostly died down now, but the overall incidence still seems higher than pre-HRT. My theory is that I had a testosterone bounce after stopping estrogen, which drove the acne.
The libido is now definitely back to where it was pre-HRT, for good and ill. I’d say that I noticed a change about three weeks post-HRT and then it ramped back up to previous levels over the next two. One thing I’m more aware of now in this area is my response pattern and how much of this is driven inside my head vs. physical contact. I think being middle-aged has something to do with that!
On the emotional front, the first couple of weeks post-HRT found me up and down quite a bit, but things leveled out pretty rapidly after that and I’ve been mostly back to my more normal patterns, which has its advantages and drawbacks. On the upside, I’ve felt more confident than tentative. I think the tentativeness came from being in an emotional space that was wholly unfamiliar with regards to trying to find my place in between genders. On the downside, I’m more acutely aware of my depression again.
One thing I feel that I gained that hasn’t gone away is the sense that a gender transition is possible for me and that I’m strong enough to do it should I start down that path again. There’s also multiple losses. Loss for what I came close to and let go, loss for what I had physically that has mostly melted away, and loss of time.
I don’t beat myself up over these things, but examine them and use them to guide me on my current course. My hair continues to grow and I’m going to schedule my first laser hair removal session next week. I’m getting double- and triple-taked in the men’s bathroom some days. I’m finding it harder and harder to wear men’s clothing on a regular basis and I continue to accumulate more androgynous-looking women’s clothing. My dysphoria comes and goes.
I’m still in transition, it’s just not quite so clear to me or others now.