What do hormones do?
There are two main hormones in the body associated with puberty or the development of masculine/feminine features, and those are oestrogen and testosterone.
Oestrogen is a hormone produced in largest quantities in the ovaries which facilitates the growth of breasts, menstruation and pregnancy. A transgender patient would be administered oestrogen to promote the feminisation of the body and should expect changes such as the growth of breasts, the ability to bring your voice to a higher pitch, and the redistribution of fat around the body to create ‘curves’ in the hips.
Testosterone is a hormone produced in largest quantities in the testes which facilitates the growth of muscles, hair and other masculine, secondary sex characteristics. A transgender patient would be administered testosterone to promote the masculinisation of the body and should expect changes such as a deeper voice, more body hair, the growth of facial hair, and the redistribution of fat around the body to eliminate ‘curves’.
Hormone replacement therapy, or hormone therapy, is the administration of oestrogen or testosterone to trans patients aged 16 and over. The effects can be more effective at a young age, however, hormone therapy can successfully alter the body at any age.
It is commonplace for teenagers or young people to be administered puberty blockers before hormone therapy is considered. This allows the patient time to process all the information and make the decision whether or not to start hormone therapy, and suppresses the unwanted hormones in preparation for cross-sex hormones to be used. Hormone therapy is more effective in young patients because they will not have completed puberty, making the complete medical transition a little bit easier. On the other hand, patients who have undergone puberty already will often have surgeries to reverse the changes caused by puberty, such as the growth of breasts or a masculine facial structure.