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How Long After Starting HRT Do You Feel A Difference?

It’s a common question that many people have when starting or considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — when will I start noticing changes? In this blog, we’ll talk about what you can expect when you're beginning HRT and how long it may take before you start noticing a difference from treatments. Read on to learn more.

A Brief Overview

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a common form of gender-affirming care for those who want to better align their physical characteristics with their gender identity. HRT will eventually bring about physical changes in the body, but the process does take time. When you first engage in HRT, you likely want to see the changes happen quickly.

While the timelines can vary from person to person, there are some general timelines you may be able to expect when undergoing hormone replacement therapy. With that being said, let’s start by defining what Hormone Replacement Therapy is and how it works.

What Factors Influence the Onset of Changes

Now that we’ve defined HRT let’s talk about the factors that may affect your individual timeline for changes. While there’s no way to reliably predict how fast or slow changes will begin on an individual basis. But generally, these factors will play some part:

Genetics — As mentioned, everyone’s body reacts differently to HRT. You may experience changes much faster than another individual, or you may experience them much slower. Or you may follow the average timeline. Your genetic makeup and your natural hormone levels may likely play some part in this.

Dosage — As your treatment progresses, your health care provider may increase or decrease your dosage. They will determine the right dosage based on your health levels and your individual goals. Generally, higher doses may lead to faster changes, but they can also lead to unwanted side effects. To prevent or lessen side effects, your doctor may need to reduce your dosage and make adjustments until they find the right fit.

Administration method — HRT can be administered through pills, topical creams and injections. There are also various medications available. Depending on your method of administration and your prescribed medication, your changes may come faster or slower.

Female-to-Male (FtM) HRT: Testosterone Timeline

The timeline for testosterone therapy for FtM individuals can vary based on several factors. However, most patients begin to notice physical changes within the first few months of treatment. Generally, you can expect to see the following changes from masculinizing hormones:

  • Deeper voice
  • Body and facial hair growth
  • Breast tissue reduction
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Decreased body fat compared to muscle mass
  • Clitoral enlargement

While most of these changes occur in the range of three to six months, it can sometimes take a year or more, depending on the individual. Generally, some of these factors will continue to change as treatment goes on.

Male-to-Female (MtF) HRT: Estrogen Timeline

The timeline for testosterone therapy for MtF individuals can vary based on several factors. However, most patients begin to notice physical changes within the first few months of treatment. Generally, you can expect to see the following changes from feminizing hormones:

  • Breast growth
  • Decreased testicle size
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Fewer erections
  • Increase in body fat
  • Decrease in muscle mass

While most of these changes occur in the range of three to six months, it can sometimes take a year or more, depending on the individual. Generally, some of these factors will continue to change as treatment goes on.

Things To Keep In Mind

So, now we know that you can typically expect to see noticeable changes within three to six months of treatment. Again, this will likely vary from individual to individual, and it’s important to report to your primary care provider regularly if you’re experiencing side effects. Your provider can monitor your treatment safely and ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

With that being said, there are some considerations to keep in mind before beginning your hormone therapy replacement. Reading these considerations will help you prepare for what to expect and make your experience as comfortable and affirming as possible.

Expect Emotional and Mental Changes

While hormone replacement therapy is meant to align your physical body with your gender identity, physical changes aren’t the only changes you may experience.

It’s important to be prepared to deal with some emotional and mental changes along the way. Even if you’re prepared for the changes that your body is going through, HRT can sometimes feel like an overwhelming process. It’s important to remember that feeling emotional can be normal and expected and is a common side effect during the transitioning process.

Increased emotional sensitivity is a common change reported by those starting HRT. You may notice that you’re especially prone to feeling empathetic and feeling intense emotions during this time. Make sure to give yourself compassion and space to process your emotions as you go through your HRT treatments.

You may also notice positive mental changes along the way, such as increased confidence and gender euphoria. These positive mental changes may come about as a result of you feeling more aligned, in tune and comfortable in your own skin. On the flip side, you may feel stressed and anxious during the initial stages of the process too. Anxiety and stress are common for any healthcare-related treatment, so it’s also important to take time to address and identify those feelings as well.

Have Patience and Set Realistic Expectations

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re starting hormone replacement therapy is that the changes can take time. We now know that timelines can vary from person to person and can take several months before you start seeing noticeable changes.

It’s understandable to be excited about seeing change as soon as possible, but make sure to set realistic expectations. Even if you hear others see changes quickly, you may not have the same experience. Setting realistic expectations for your own timeline can help you avoid frustrations and impatience while you wait for the changes to come.

HRT is a gradual process, and it’s best to safely follow your gender-affirming care plan rather than try and rush things and reduce the safety and efficacy of your treatment.

Read About Others’ Experiences

While it’s important not to base your own timeline entirely on the timelines of others, it can still help to read about other individuals’ experiences to see how the process can vary for each person.

There are numerous online communities, forums and social media groups where you can read up on people’s journeys and get an idea of what you might be able to expect for your own journey. Along with giving you information about HRT, this can also be a great place to build friendships and a supportive community. 

It’s great to have a support system of people who understand what it’s like to receive gender-affirming care when you’re undergoing hormone replacement therapy.

Book an appointment with a Circle Medical telehealth provider today to discuss HRT treatment!

If you’re interested in seeking gender-affirming care and hormone replacement therapy, consider getting your care through an online primary care provider! Online primary care is convenient and allows you to get a treatment plan from the comfort of your own home!

Circle Medical is an online primary care clinic that provides a safe and comfortable environment for gender-affirming care. Make a same-day appointment with Circle Medical today to learn more and discuss your care options!

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