Warning: Some may consider one of the effects of HRT that I am talking about today to be gross or uncomfortable to read about. If you are uncomfortable reading about potentially gross effects, you may wish to skip this post.
Male to female hormone replacement therapy (MTF HRT) has a long list of potential effects. Everyone talks about the most exciting effects of HRT: Fat redistribution, breast development, and hair loss reversal. These are the changes that most people desire from HRT and the ones that make it onto most lists. However, there are many more effects that don’t make these lists, either because they are less common, relatively minor, or kinda gross. This week, I saw one of these less glamour effects of HRT.
The new effect of HRT that I experienced was nipple discharge (Sorry, this is the medical term for it). I had never heard that this could be an effect of HRT, so it caught me by surprise when I first experienced it. I was drying the inside of a stock pot by holding it against my upper chest (A bad idea in hindsight). After I had finished, I noticed a wet spot on my shirt. At first, I assumed that I had just not dried the bottom of the pot well enough, but the inside of the shirt had several drops of a sticky, yellowish-clear liquid. I was legitimately worried that I was lactating. Nobody said I was smart. After the shock wore off, I ended up calling my endocrinologist. They assured me it was normal on MTF HRT, although it was little early at only 2 months in. It is more common to start occurring around 6-9 months into a transition, however it can occur much earlier (depends on how quickly your E and T levels get to female ranges). Despite it ultimately being normal, it is scary to have something like that happen without knowing that is it possible.
Another recent change is that my breast sensitivity has reached a point where it is more pain than discomfort. It has steadily increased since they started being sensitive about one month into HRT, but this week was the first time that it was more than just uncomfortable. Now it is genuinely painful.
I disputed mentioning nipple discharge at all in this post. It is a bit grosser than other HRT effects that I have talked about to this point. However, I ultimately decided in favor of including it due to my own reaction to when it happened. It spiked my anxiety levels for a good while. I have ready plenty of stories, posts, and research on HRT and had never seen anything about this effect until it happened to me. Only after researching after the fact was I able to find the occasional reference to it. We should not avoid talking about unusual or unsavory aspects of HRT. It only makes us more ignorant and causes fear when trans people first experience them.
P.S. Nipple discharge is not exclusive to trans women on HRT, it can also occur in cis women. I did not know that.