Transgender and aging

by Allison Blaylock
Trans Advice Columnist


As an aging trans woman (58 years old), I am concerned about health issues. Particularly the long-term use of our HRT and its effect on so many things from bone loss to cholesterol to HRT related weight gain and the complications that go with it. What can women do to combat these problems?

I'm a bit older, but maybe advice for the younger trans generation, too.

Thanks for your columns,
Rose Bishop

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Dear Rose,

The question you have about the long-term use of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) can be vast. Most people are asked to sign a consent form when starting HRT. Within those forms, there should have been some possible side effects listed, which would also review long-term health issues.

Taking MtF (male to female) transgender hormones, such as estrogen and anti-androgens you can see things such as potassium spikes, blood clots, cholesterol increase, liver and kidney issues.

Recently I had a health scare; I was afraid I might have had a blood clot. I checked the internet for some of the symptoms, and many things led to the possibility of blood clots. I contacted my doctors who gave me some advice. One doctor advised getting an ultrasound; the other advised me to keep an eye on the areas and if things increase to then go to the ER or urgent care setting for an evaluation.

I decided to go in that night for a check and found out it was fortunately not a blood clot. These issues are not something someone should take lightly when it comes to complications or side effects. Blood clots can kill you if not taken care of promptly.

High cholesterol is another side effect of long-term HRT and can cause many long-term problems. As with many medical issues, if diagnosed soon enough they can be treated, managed, and in many cases, become normal with dietary management.

Elevated potassium is another problem we can see with HRT therapy. Normally, our kidneys keep our potassium in balance, but certain medications, like our hormones, can cause potassium levels to spike. Potassium is another issue we can control with dietary modification.

I stress to people and have said in previous advice columns, see your doctor for medications and get blood tests done at least every six months.

Finally, one thing to remember as a transwoman is you do open yourself up to a large range of medical issues which can cause the body harm. Knowing what these are and having proper care for yourself is a high priority. I always recommend having some exercise in your routine. It does not have to be at a gym or running, but some purposeful activity. Something as easy as walking maybe 5,000-6,000 steps a day, which may sound like a lot, but the average person should walk at least 5,000 steps per day for general health. Eating right is also important for a healthier lifestyle.

Thank you for asking this question as it does come into play a lot with the health of transwomen. I want everyone to stay healthy as this is how we stay visible and strong.


The Gayly. May 22, 2018. 9:50 a.m. CST.