Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hair Removal and 6 Week HRT Update 6/26/2012

I had a one hour electrolysis session today and I thought I would include a little about my hair removal experience so far in this post as well as a 6 week HRT update. This was my 9th hour of electrolysis and she will often go over time with me and today the session was an hour and fifteen minutes. It pays to tip, lol. Its a little daunting when I realize I am probably about 10% done with this process considering she has not done a complete clearing of my face and also there is some regrowth, many of the hair follicles will have to be zapped 2 or 3 times before the hair never comes back. With electrolysis basically a needle is inserted into each individual hair follicle (I am doing facial hair) and electricity and heat are shot through needle into the follicle and the hair is pulled out. This hurts but I do use a Lidocaine/Prilocaine cream I got from my doctor to numb the areas but its still uncomfortable at best. Honestly, the only time I ever question "what the heck am I doing?" in my transition is during these one hour sessions. I did try laser hair removal initially which would have been much less time consuming, less expensive and less painful but I would have still had to do some electrolysis for the grey hairs that are not affected by laser. My laser session on December 6th last year was a disaster and I will write another post about it eventually. Suffice it to say I did see some positive effects as far as hair removal but they were temporary and I had a bad skin reaction that I am still treating to some degree through the end of next month. So far at least the electrolysis has not had lasting negative effects except for some redness and puffiness that might last as much as a day or two after each session.
Some people will have to do 200 hours or more of electrolysis to completely kill all facial hair and some more like 50 to 60. My facial hair is not too thick and I am guessing the total needed will be 90 to 100 hours but its too soon to tell and I will keep updating here. I initially have been trying to do 3-4 hours a month but I am going to try to double that starting this summer as I do not want to have any beard when I go full time. That may not be realistic but I at least want most of it gone by that time and one of the worst things about getting electrolysis is you cannot shave for a day or two before each session and I am not trying to be the bearded lady, lol.

Me on the night before going to the doctor to get my first hormone prescriptions.

6 weeks ago today I put on my first estrogen patch. I was prescribed a 0.1mg patch changed twice weekly and 100 mg of Spironolactone daily taken orally. Before I do my update on HRT effects I want to go into what I was doing prior to getting the prescription. The first week of November 2011 I started the Flat to Fem herbal program for herbal breast enhancement and I was definitely flat when I started. There was not enough tissue there to create good cleavage. About a month prior to that I began taking several of the herbs in the program, namely Fenugreek, Red Clover and Saw Palmetto and I had been taking Saw Palmetto alone for several years although I was only taking one a day and with the program I was taking an upwards of 9 Saw Palmetto tablets daily. This program introduces phytoestrogen (plant based herbs) into the system and uses the Saw Palmetto to block testosterone and the testosterone blocker here seems to be the weak link from my experience. I did add the most powerful phytoestrogen PM (Pueraria mirifica) to the mix in January of this year and fate dealt me a nice card in that I stumbled across a prescription bottle of Spironolactone I was told to dispose of with some medicines one doctor had given a family member and his other doctor's did not want him to take. Spironolactone is made as a diuretic/blood pressure drug and it serves a secondary purpose of being the top prescribed testosterone blocker for transgender patients in the USA. Other countries often use other drugs to block T but almost everyone on HRT in the USA takes Spiro. I began taking 25mg of the Spiro and then another bottle of it came in and "disposed" of that one too. Knowing about when I would be getting my HRT prescription I figured I had enough of the Spiro to take 50mg a day and sure enough I had enough to take that dosage until May 14 the day before seeing my doctor. I did disclose everything I had been taking to my doctor and when he did the checkup he noticed I had some breast growth before I even took my t shirt off.

My therapist had told me that it was positive I was taking herbal estrogens as they help "wake up" the hormone receptors to estrogen when you begin HRT. I don't know the specifics of that but I do believe because of my herbal program and my 2.5 months of basically a half dose of Spiro helped me get faster effects from the hormones, especially with breast growth. The effects of the herbal program were very miniumal until I added the Spiro. By the first of the year I still did not have "breasts" but I did have swelling of the tissue and it was March and especially April before I noticed any real growth. I had a spurt in April where my breasts got very sore and a hardness formed behind each nipple and the mass began growing. That seemed to slack off by May. The first 2 weeks on hormones as my body adjusted to the changeover all the soreness went away and any growth stopped. In the lat 4 weeks some of the soreness has come back and they seem to have started growing again with the biggest change I have noticed being a change in shape. The herbs had made my breasts swell out and grow but the shape was not as feminine, not "man boobs or moobs" but not the female shape that seems to be forming now. I think since I have started HRT I have more shape morphing and areola growth than I have had pure breast growth, but breast growth is supposed to set in from the 3 to 6 month mark of HRT so I do feel I am nicely ahead of the game there.

With only 6 weeks of HRT I have a lot of effects to report but most of them are quite subtle right now. The most surprising effect is the way I feel. I did expect to feel better and indeed I do but I did not expect to feel sort of a high from the medication and that's the best way I know to describe it. I told my therapist it feels like I have a buzz coming on, like I had 2 beers and am starting to feel that warm glow. The only problem with that is at night I sometimes sort of pick up on that and want to have a couple more beers to accentuate the feeling and often I am ending up drinking a little more than my self imposed limit.   My depression has almost gone away and that is very welcome news. Actually this started sometime back in March after I started taking Spiro and PM along with my herbal program and I was able to discontinue my prescription to Ativan that I had been taking for 7 years for anxiety. That was a pretty big victory for me and a turning point and now I don't take any prescriptions other than my HRT.  I do take a few supplements but none of the herbal estrogens or Saw Palmetto anymore.

Emotional effects have been positive and I do have a sense of well being now I do not remember having during my life. I am wondering if this is how normal people feel all (or most) of the time and if this makes me normal now. Or maybe I was normal all along and didn't know it. Either way I am happier and really excited about life now for the first time in forever. I don't seem to have mood swings from hormones yet but I did have a few episodes of crying (3 that I can remember outside of my friend's death) and they were over small things that would not have made me cry in the past. Patches are supposed to have fewer mood swings associated with them than pills or injections and the estrogen is distributed at a steady rate over time instead of going up and down when a pill or shot is taken. At first I really did not want the patch because I had heard nightmares about them not sticking to the skin and with my sensitive skin I also feared irritation. So far they are working well and I think I will stick with them although I am hoping to get the dosage increased when I go back to the doctor next month.

Other effects have been more subtle so far but I have noticed a little more tightness in my jeans in the butt and hip areas. I cannot tell if I am really growing there or not not but I think I am and I have gained 3 pounds in the 6 weeks and my waist is smaller so its got to be going somewhere. I am able to wear size 8 jeans now (some are still 10) and I am noticing some loss of muscle mass in my arms and shoulders, a welcome relief.   Mucle reduction should cause weight loss so i must be adding a little fat as well as experiencing fat redistribution and more curves will be great but i need to get a check on this before I gain any more weight.  My wife has noticed some changes in my face (she says it looks more sculpted) and I think it is my cheeks getting a little more full. It could also be from the electrolysis but my therapist says she can tell I am on estrogen by looking at the area from my cheeks through my eyes. Both of them say I am glowing and I do notice my skin is a bit more radiant like I am wearing a light powder foundation when i am not wearing any. Anybody I ever met that is on hormones always tells me their skin is softer and they often want you to touch their skin to see how soft it is. My reaction was usually, wow that's how mine feels anyway.  I have always had soft skin so this effect has been harder for me to notice but finally after 6 weeks I do notice it is a little softer but if I was not looking for it I might not notice. I guess I was blessed with naturally soft skin but if anything its getting better.

Another little surprise I have experienced is my hives skin condition has almost completely gone away. This started about 2 years ago and I would get out of nowhere clear whelps on my skin, usually arms or legs and then they would go away just as soon as they appeared. It was very strange to me, especially when it first started and I did show this to two doctors and both said it was hives, likely stress or anxiety related, and there didn't seem to be any treatment or lasting bad effects.  This spring the condition started to get better and now I would say its about 80% better. I hope it goes away totally and now I think it will with a little more time:) That's all I can think of now, I am sure something else will come to me later but I will include it in my next HRT update in a month or so.  I still have more topics I am working on and now the blog is launched I will do posts at least once a week. The little dog is still with us and I am still trying to find her a home. She has the Biggest personality! I really like her and she gets along with my three dogs but she still has puppy in her and has already chewed up my favorite pair of heels and some other things. I am not sure I can afford to keep her so once again I am putting it out there, if you have a good home and need a great dog let me know. That's all for now from Tammy World and I hope everyone has a great a week and please stay tuned....