Periods are a part of life for many types of people, and while few of us look forward to that time of the month, periods can feel more fraught and emotionally complicated for trans, genderqueer and non-binary people.
Wondering about your period as a trans, genderqueer, or non-binary person?
Of course, there are some people who are unbothered by their period, but for others 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. Not to mention, heightened hormones during the menstrual phase, don’t exactly help.
If you experience stress, sadness, or high emotion when you get your period, here are five things that could help.
1. Prioritize physical and emotional comfort
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.
2. Opt for nongendered options
Use menstrual products that are gender neutral or that aren’t marketed as being especially feminine, like boyshort or boxer brief style absorbent underwear.
3. Plan ahead
Have menstrual products shipped to your home rather than buying them in a store. You can even sign up for reoccurring deliveries so you don’t have to think about ordering more every month.
4. Manage your symptoms
Manage cramps with heat therapy (a heating pad or hot water bottle) or over-the-counter medication. Check in with your healthcare provider to understand more about what’s best for you.
5. Dress for success
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.
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.
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. You deserve to see healthcare professionals who listens to your needs, and provides you with thoughtful, knowledgeable 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.