Trans Men’s Health and Gender Dysphoria

trans men

Trans men are people who were assigned female sex at birth and have a male gender identity. They may undergo surgical or hormonal transition to change their appearance and alleviate gender dysphoria.

During this process, their bodies grow to resemble their chosen sex. They may also use packers, devices that resemble penises, to allow them to urinate standing up or to engage in sexual activity.

Birth control

Although many transgender men do not wish to have children, it is important to plan ahead. If you do decide to become a parent, you should practice safe sex and use birth control to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It’s also a good idea to use a barrier method of birth control. These include condoms (both external and internal), the male condom, the female condom, or the intrauterine device, or IUD. There are several IUD options, including those that do not contain estrogen, such as copper.

Some transgender men may want to use birth control to reduce symptoms or stop their periods, but it’s important to find a provider that is LGBTQ-friendly and understands gender-affirming care. You can check out the WPATH provider directory or the GLMA database for local healthcare providers who are open to working with people with different sex identities and genders. You can also download the app Clue, which has a searchable list of LGBTQ-friendly OB/GYNs and gynecologists.

Gynecological care

Having comprehensive health care is important for trans men, including gynecological exams. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has resources to help trans men find providers who are familiar with their health care needs. It’s also important to choose a provider who will be understanding and respectful of their gender dysphoria. For example, if they’re experiencing low libido, their gynecologist should work to discover the cause and help them overcome their concerns.

Ob/gyns who are open to providing gynecologic and reproductive health care to transmasculine people are best positioned to do so. They can create a welcoming environment by posting a nondiscrimination policy and providing education materials on transgender health issues. They can also teach their patients about the benefits of gender-affirming hormones and surgical options for medical and cosmetic transition. Finally, they can encourage their patients to have routine Pap smears and pelvic exams as recommended for everyone. This will reduce the risk of cancer and other serious conditions that can occur in trans men.

Menstrual cycle

During the menstrual cycle, naturally occurring hormones cause the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) to thicken in preparation for possible implantation of an embryo. If implantation does not occur, the lining breaks down and sheds blood, triggering a period.

Getting a period can be painful and emotionally distressing for trans men who are already experiencing gender dysphoria (the conflict between one’s body’s physical or assigned gender and the gender they identify as). The need to use menstrual products like pads or tampons and their potentially unhygienic disposal methods can also be a source of anxiety.

Hormonal therapy (HRT) can help reduce or stop the menstrual cycle in some transgender people. However, not all do so, and for those that do, periods can still recur on occasion. In these cases, it’s important to find ways to ease the discomfort of the recurrence and to take steps to prevent pregnancy. This can include using a different birth control method or finding a gender-neutral bathroom at work, school and public spaces.

Body image

Body image refers to a person’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own embodiment. It is studied in a variety of disciplines, including neuroscience, psychology, medicine, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, philosophy and cultural studies.

Many trans men face pressure to conform to cisgender ideals of male beauty. This can result in stress and eating disorders. A recent study found that 40% of trans men and gender non-conforming people diagnosed with an eating disorder also experienced body dissatisfaction.

Some transgender people use clothing to reinforce a gender identity. For example, a male goth may wear eyeliner and fingernail polish to match their peers; a female-to-male (MTF) individual might wear skirts and stereotypically feminine blouses.

Other transgender people are more fluid about their gender expression and presentation. They might dress as male or female in accordance with societal expectations, but they might change their gender from day to day or hour to hour.