Menstruation is a common occurrence in cisgender women. People commonly associate periods with having a vagina. Nowadays, transgender women have access to gender reassignment surgery. And many people are curious whether red days come along with a trans woman’s neovagina.
But before we proceed in answering this question, let’s first discuss what exactly menstruation is and why it happens.
What is Menstruation?
It is the process of discharging blood and other materials from the uterus’ lining at intervals. It usually begins one lunar month from puberty until menopause. It, however, temporarily disappears when pregnancy occurs.
Do Transgender Women have Periods?
Technically, when it comes to the discussion of having red days, transgender women don’t have it because doctors do not include a uterus in vaginoplasty.
However, there are studies that some transgender women experience Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
Why some transgender women experience PMS
Most individuals have physical symptoms when they are experiencing PMS. However, some go through it emotionally or psychologically.
According to UK’s National Health Service, the period is part of a menstrual cycle where blood comprising the uterine lining leaves the body. They confirmed that individuals not possessing an ovary and uterus will not experience periods.
But PMS and PDD, terms referring to the emotional and physical symptoms before the period begins, are often results of fluctuating hormones.
How some transgender women experience PMS
Transgender women transition differently. Some seek the help of science which may include hormone replacement therapy or certain surgeries while others prefer dressing up without medical intervention.
The ones who medically transition often take oral, transdermal, or injectable hormones that increase estrogen levels and decrease testosterone levels to reach a regular cis woman’s levels.
Because of this, their hormones may fluctuate greatly and may cause symptoms of PMDD which are similar to PMS but are more severe.
Many people will wonder why trans women will opt to endure the symptoms of PMDD when they can just stop taking medication. However, what they don’t know is that HRT helps in alleviating the symptoms of gender dysphoria by making it possible for trans women to achieve:
- A more feminine figure by body fat redistribution
- Promotion of breast growth
- Reduce balding or male-pattern hair growth
What PMS-like symptoms Trans Women experience
There are many anecdotal evidences backing up the experience of trans women having PMS-like symptoms. However, researchers haven’t studied this area of transgender health yet.
According to IMPD, some trans women are more sensitive to estrogen than others. This sensitivity may lead to PMDD-like symptoms.
The symptoms are divided into two experiences. The following information is from The Office on Women’s Health.
Psychological and Emotional
- Lack or too much sleep
- Changes of appetite
- Mood swings
- lowered libido
Estrogen and Progesterone often cause irritability and mood swings while estrogen alone can cause other symptoms including anxiety.
- Nausea and other Gastrointestinal Symptoms
- Changes of appetite
- Swelling or tendering of breasts
Tracking Period as a Trans Woman
If you are a trans woman, it’s beneficial for you to track your period. Doing so will give your physician more clarity on what type of medication is best for you and if HRT is indeed for you.
Some trans women experience severe side effects so having this knowledge will allow you to mitigate any unfavorable factors in terms of your health.
Creating a Period Diary
Buy any sort of notebook and enlist the symptoms you feel. Don’t forget to write the dates and durations of these symptoms. You should also write down the type of medication you’re taking and the times you’re taking it.
For those who are tech-savvy, you can use period-tracking apps. This will allow you to be more in tune with your body and let you predict when your next period will be. Having this piece of information will get rid of worrying factors and will give you peace of mind knowing that everything your experiencing is normal and comes with HRT.
However, don’t forget to check in with your endocrinologist or any physician that’s an expert in trans health care and show your recorded data to get the maximum benefits of your transitioning journey.
After all, health is wealth and you shouldn’t compromise your overall health and well-being just to achieve the feminizing effects of HRT.
Trans Men and PMS
Now that you’re knowledgeable about what trans women go through, it’s time to address the issue of trans men and PMS. This is helpful if you’re an ally or you’re someone who’s planning to medically transition from female to male.
Most trans men don’t only suffer from the physical and mental side-effects of PMS, their gender dysphoria also heightens every time they menstruate. Seeing this monthly flow serves as a reminder that they’re not in the right body.
“this dysphoria becomes heightened when I have to shop for a product that is labeled as ‘women’s health’ and in most cases, is pretty and pink”.
Often, they may feel humiliated, stressed, and in danger.
Why some trans men feel in danger while on their period
Many trans men have been verbally harassed in public bathrooms for men just for expressing their real gender identity. This can be magnified if people see them open a box of tampons or napkins or have visible blood on their bottoms.
It is also hard to find sanitary bins in male restrooms which speaks of how many establishments are still at a lack of inclusivity.
Planning ahead of your period as a trans man
For the ones who have not gotten the bottom surgery yet or are not planning to do so, here are some helpful tips for you to avoid possible unfavorable situations in terms of your period.
- Track your period. It’s always wise to know when it’ll come to ensure that you’re always ready whenever and wherever.
- Pick up clues. Although it’s not failsafe, it’s still useful to assess how you feel or if there are other physical manifestations such as cramping and breakouts.
- Learn your perimeters. Ensure that wherever you are, access to gender-neutral bathrooms is present.
- Find the right products. Always go for sanitary products that are tried and tested. Added to that, the right underwear also matters along with how thick the fabric of your pants or shorts is.
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