Periods are a part of life for many people, and not all of them identify as women. For transgender men or genderqueer or non-binary folks who get a period, that time of the month might be met with various emotions.
Wondering about your period as a trans, genderqueer, or non-binary person?
For some, it’s no big deal, but for other people, like those who are trans, genderqueer, or non-binary, getting and managing a period can be particularly stressful. Buying or using products marketed to only women, using or carrying menstrual products in public bathrooms, or experiencing body changes can heighten the stress of feeling like your body doesn’t match your gender — something called gender dysphoria.
If you experience this stress when you get your period, there may be a few things that can help:
- Use menstrual products that make you feel most comfortable. Everyone is different, but for you this might mean products that:
- Don’t need to be inserted: pads or absorbent underwear.
- Aren’t felt or seen once in place: a menstrual cup or tampon.
- Don’t need to be changed frequently: a menstrual cup or absorbent underwear.
- Are quiet and won’t draw attention in a bathroom: fabric pads or absorbent underwear.
- Use menstrual products that are gender neutral or that aren’t marketed as being especially feminine, like boyshort or boxer brief style absorbent underwear.
- Have menstrual products shipped to your home rather than buying them in a store.
- Manage cramps with heat therapy (a heating pad or hot water bottle) or over-the-counter medication (checking in with your healthcare provider about what’s best for you).
- Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident to help offset symptoms like bloating or a swollen chest.
How hormone therapy or hormonal birth control could affect your period
It’s also worth noting that taking hormones can affect your period in some notable ways:
Testosterone: If you take testosterone or go through hormone replacement therapy, your period can get lighter and shorter over time or come unexpectedly before stopping. Testosterone injections (versus testosterone cream) can make this happen more quickly. After a period stops, occasional spotting or cramping might be normal. This is reversible, so a period can come back if you stop taking hormones.
Hormonal birth control: For people who use certain kinds of hormonal birth control, a period might become lighter or stop completely.
Puberty blocking hormones: Puberty blocking hormones will prevent the gendered changes that come along with puberty, including body changes like growing breasts and getting a period.
It’s also worth noting that if you haven’t had surgery to remove your reproductive organs, getting pregnant is still possible — even if your period is becoming more irregular. Ovulation will likely be blocked if you’re taking testosterone, but it is possible for individuals taking testosterone to get pregnant. So if you’re sexually active with someone who has sperm and you don’t want to get pregnant, be sure to take precautions and use birth control.
Find a healthcare provider who understands you
If you have questions about how to best manage your period or are experiencing gender dysphoria or distress surrounding your period, you should speak with your healthcare provider. Everyone deserves to see healthcare professionals who listen to their needs and can provide them with thoughtful care. If you’re currently looking for a provider who is better attuned to your unique needs and knowledgable about trans, genderqueer, and non-binary concerns, you might find the searchable provider databases from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health or the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to be meaningful resources.