In this article, we’ll break down the diversity of experiences that people have with menopause, and the importance of gender-affirming care.
Experiences of MenopauseTransgender women or people who identify as non-binary, who have undergone HRT, are prescribed an individual dose of estrogen, an androgen blocker, and progesterone. For a full experience of menopause, HRT must have concluded. However, it is a lot more common to choose instead to change the dosage or the type of HRT, but to continue HRT indefinitely.
Pop Quiz! Which of the following symptoms occur during menopause?
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased fatigue
- Poor memory
- Mood fluctuations
- Lower confidence
- Suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and/or vaginal dryness
- Presence or absence of it may trigger gender dysphoria
The Importance of Trans HealthcareSome people who have undergone HRT might want to take advantage of being able to bypass the challenges menopause, while others might explore altering their HRT prescription to reflect the hormonal changes of cisgender women of a similar age. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual and their healthcare provider to find the best long-term plan.
Awareness of trans and non-binary experiences are important for ensuring the necessary health care services are attainable, however. After all, gender-affirming health care is life affirming care.
The Importance of Gender-affirming CareThere is a lot to consider; obtaining the right dose, health insurance and affording medication long-term, fears of being denied coverage, potential long-term effects, and the potential for increased risks of estrogenic cancers.
In general, the risks and benefits of HRT are weighed carefully. The long-term use of estrogen therapy may increase the risk of certain health problems, such as blood clots, heart disease, and breast cancer. However, the risk of these problems can be minimized with proper monitoring and management.
It is important for individuals who are taking HRT to be able to receive regular check-ups and blood tests to monitor hormone levels and overall health. And have access to inclusive healthcare providers who are aware of the potential side effects of HRT, including mood changes, breast tenderness, and changes in sexual function and can offer up support along the way.
Access to this type of supportive medical care, as well as proper insurance coverage, can be challenging, and we need to do more to advocate for both gender-affirming care and on-going trans healthcare.
Coping with Symptoms of MenopauseIf you find yourself struggling with menopause, here are some tips for coping with the symptoms:
- Lifestyle changes: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can help reduce menopausal symptoms. Avoiding triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can also help manage hot flashes.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): Trans women who have undergone gender-affirming hormone therapy typically receive estrogen therapy, which can help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Continuing estrogen therapy can also help prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Speak with your healthcare provider about the proper dosing or treatment for your changing needs.
- Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation.
- Medications, such as antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs, can help reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
- Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can help relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse.
- Counselling or therapy: Menopause can be a challenging time, and counselling or therapy can help you cope with the emotional changes that may accompany this transition.
We recognize different experiences of menopause so that we can all feel seen, acknowledged and cared for. And that together we can work to ensure that all those in need receive proper care.
- “Do Transgender Women Experience Menopause?” HealthyWomen, 26 Oct. 2020, www.healthywomen.org/your-health/menopause-aging-well/do-transgender-women-experience-menopause.
- GenderGP. “Inclusive Language and the Menopause.” GenderGP Transgender Services, 21 Oct. 2021, www.gendergp.com/blog-menopause-inclusivity/. Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.
- Mohamed, Sophie, and Myra S. Hunter. “Transgender Women’s Experiences and Beliefs about Hormone Therapy through and beyond Mid-Age: An Exploratory UK Study.” International Journal of Transgenderism, vol. 20, no. 1, 23 Oct. 2018, pp. 98–107, https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2018.1493626.
- “Transgender Health.” Rock My Menopause, rockmymenopause.com/get-informed/transgender-health/.