Although transgender women will not get a period, they can experience symptoms similar to those of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Learn more here.
While some symptoms of PMS and PMDD are physical, others are emotional or psychological.
In this article, we discuss whether trans women can experience PMS-like symptoms. We also look at symptoms that can occur as a result of hormone therapy and provide ways to track them.
Is It Possible?
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that a period is the part of the menstrual cycle in which blood, including the lining of the uterus, leaves the body. People who do not have ovaries and uterus do not have periods.
However, PMS and PMDD are terms that refer to physical and emotional symptoms that people may experience before their period begins. These conditions are caused by fluctuations in hormones.
The symptoms of PMDD are similar to PMS but more severe.
Learn more about how PMDD and PMS differ.
Transgender women can transition in a variety of ways. One way a person can transition is to use sex-affirming hormone therapy.
Transgender women who undergo hormone therapy may take oral, transdermal, or injectable versions of estrogen. They may also use anti-androgens, such as progesterone.
The antiandrogen that healthcare professionals usually prescribe is spironolactone, although they may also prescribe progesterone.
Hormone therapy for transgender women aims to help alleviate gender dysphoria in several ways, including:
- changing how the body distributes fat
- reducing male pattern hair growth
- promoting breast growth
Estrogen can affect the body in a variety of ways, and transgender women may experience a number of side effects while taking extra estrogen. Progesterone can also cause side effects.
Although researchers have not studied this area of trans health, the International Association for Menstrual Disorders (IAPD) notes that hormones can cause PMDD-like symptoms.
Therefore, although transgender women may not experience menstrual bleeding, they may experience other PMDD-like symptoms, such as breast pain, rapid mood swings, and irritability.
How Do Trans Women Experience Pms-like Symptoms?
Historical evidence suggests that transgender women experience PMS- or PMDD-like symptoms at about the same time each month. However, researchers have not studied this area of transgender health.
The IAPD suggests that some transgender women may be more sensitive to estrogen hormones than others. This increased sensitivity can lead to PMDD-like symptoms.
Emotional and Psychological Experiences
Some transgender women report PMS-like emotional and psychological symptoms.
The Office on Women’s Health notes that these symptoms may include:
- loss of interest in sex
- appetite changes
- sleeping too much or too little
- rapid changes in mood
Both progesterone and estrogen can cause irritability and rapid mood swings. Estrogen injections can also cause other symptoms, including anxiety, because they cause elevated, fluctuating levels of estrogen.
The possible physical symptoms of PMS in women include:
- swollen or tender breasts
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea
- appetite changes
Some transgender women may experience some of these symptoms, including headaches and swollen, tender breasts, as a result of hormone therapy.
Tips for Tracking Pms-like Symptoms
Trans women can track their symptoms in a number of ways, the easiest of which is to keep a diary. People can note when they experience which symptoms, which can help them discover any patterns.
Another option is to use a period tracking app. Several free and comprehensive apps allow people to enter a variety of symbols. After a few cycles, the app can begin predicting when a person will show symptoms.
It is important to discuss any adverse symptoms or changes with a healthcare professional. Tracking their symptoms can help people determine what is normal for them and what is not.
Transgender women can experience PMS-like physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms if they use hormone therapy. Hormone therapy can have a number of side effects, such as breast tenderness and rapid mood swings.
People can track their symptoms in different ways. Doing so can help them recognize when certain symptoms are unusual for them.
Taking this information to a health care professional can make it easier for them to offer appropriate treatment if necessary.