Another risk of T therapy

by Allison Blaylock
Trans Advice Columnist

Dear Alli,

I’ve heard taking T was associated with the risk of developing polycythemia (too many blood cells circulating in the body). I had to look it up, myself!

What do you know about it, are we at risk and if so, what should we do about it?



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear FtM,

I want to say for starters, any time you take medication there will be some risk. For this reason, it is always highly recommended you talk with a medical professional when you are looking to take medications, especially hormone replacement therapy.

The condition you mentioned, polycythemia, is one which has been reported in therapy where testosterone is increased in the body. The blood becomes viscous (thicker) which could make it hard for blood to pump through the body. Because of this difficulty, it puts quite a strain on our heart.

When anyone takes hormone replacements, regardless of gender, they should have regular blood tests done since there are constant risks of many different diseases. The one that you mentioned alone is one that can come up for FtM transgender individuals.

The risks of T can include higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease in general.

Your blood count is something you should have checked at least twice a year, more if you are at greater risk, such as high cholesterol, a family history of strokes or other heart diseases, lower oxygen in the blood and kidney disease, to name a few.

I want to let you know if polycythemia is an issue, you can always look at alternatives to care, and those alternatives should be discussed with medical professionals. It is never good to self-medicate or self-diagnose.

One thing I often recommend for everyone is to drink a lot of water, unless you are on a fluid restriction because of other medical problems, of course. Water helps the body in so many ways and can also assist in making the blood less thick.

When transgender people take the step to begin hormone replacement therapy, it is a very exciting time! However, many times we forget the risks that could come with it. These risks are real and truly are dangerous ones.

To live our lives authentically and have our bodies do what feels authentic to us, it could bring great risks. As long as we know these risks through education, and understanding and abide by medical advice, we will be healthy and live very productive lives.


Copyright The Gayly. 8/26/2018 @ 11:14 a.m. CST.