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Stopping T

Dear Trans-Health Editors,

There is some debate within the trans community– especially on some TG email lists that my friends and I subscribe to– about the risks of stopping testosterone therapy (for FTM individuals) after 1-2 years of regular treatment.

That is, there are individuals who start on the FTM road with androgen therapy, but then choose to stop for personal or health reasons. Also, there seems to be a growing number of TG-identified people who consider taking T for a short period of time to attain a certain level of masculinizing effects, but then plan to stop after a year or two.

Can you elaborate on the potential health risks of starting and then stopping androgen therapy in this manner (assuming that one has not yet had a hystorectomy or had their ovaries removed)? I understand that loss of bone mass is a potential problem, but know little about the specifics of that.

Any insight you could shed on this issue, or any resources you could point to that might help with answering this question, would be appreciated!

Thank you,
Kris K.

Hi Kris,

Thanks for writing!

Unfortunately there have not been many studies done on this issue, so the most we can do is speculate based on physiology, biochemistry and anecdotal evidence.

It is difficult to predict the health risks of stopping androgen therapy. Certainly there might be mood-related effects, because those always seem to pop up when one is changing dosages or frequencies of hormone replacement. Other effects could include: muscle loss; a slowing of the metabolism; fat gain and redistribution of fat into a more gynoid pattern; feelings of tiredness; problems sleeping; and, as you point out, loss of bone mass. Keep in mind that some of these effects are related just as much to elevated estrogen levels as they are to the cessation of androgens, and that some problems (such as increased risk of osteoporosis) can be managed with other treatments.

One of the primary physiological effects of long-term androgen supplementation is the suppression of the body’s natural processes for making its own androgens. It is difficult to predict how this would happen in FTM guys as their bodies usually do not produce as much testosterone as non-FTM guys, but it is a possible side effect.

Benefits of stopping androgen therapy might include: reduced risk of uterine and/or ovarian problems; lower blood pressure; reduced risk of liver problems (though you could also greatly reduce this risk by using injectable androgens in the first place); and retarding the advancement of male pattern baldness.

Does that help?

5 thoughts on “Stopping T”

  1. Hello, I have been considering taking testosterone, but as the letter says, for just a period of time, since I do not want to be dependent on a substance for the rest of my life, and I would still get some masculinizing changes. My question is: how long can I stay on testosterone before stopping and still produce estrogens myself, so that I would not need any external hormone and my body would function correctly?

  2. Im planning to stop injecting testosterone due to health risk im almost 2 months in pain of my side ribs at lower back and i have no chance to go for check up..that is why i decided to stop taking T..i can’t hide my self or i can’t pretend that im im thinking a lot of times and i finally decided to stop..

  3. I stopped taking it 6 days ago bc of chronic pain and joint deterioration in my lower back and hip (could parallel osteoarthritis that can occur in menopause but there’s no studies for trans people). Within a couple of days my back started feeling better than I thought possible after months and months of pain and loss of function, but still stiff. I felt happy at first like parts of myself were coming back that I didn’t notice were missing. I felt emotions I hadn’t felt in a long time. But 6 days after my last shot I started to ovulate and it was excruciating. Indescribable pain followed by intense feelings of depression the next day (today). Not ovulating on T was a blessing. I don’t know which is worse bc right now it is pretty bad 1 week off.

  4. I was on T for 3 years but decided to stop taking it two months ago due to multiple reasons. Mostly personal reasons (mental, emotional, financial, convenience), not due to any physical health problems. I got a progestin IUD to lighten/stop my menstruation, and it seems to be doing its job so far. My anxiety went back to how it was pre-T and I regained the ability to cry. Libido, anger, depression, concentration, and other feelings are unchanged. Vocal range opened up slightly but my voice is still low. Still have my facial/body hair and bottom growth. I didn’t have much fat redistribution prior to stopping T, so my body looks mostly the same, if only slightly less square. I am in decent physical health.


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