Updated 20 December 2021 |
Published 17 December 2021
Medically reviewed by Casey Tanner, MA, Sex therapist, The Expansive Group, Illinois, US
Written by Robin Craig
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Periods can be triggering for some trans and non-binary people who menstruate, heightening feelings of gender dysphoria. Here’s what can help, including gender-neutral period products
Menstruation can be particularly tricky to navigate if you’re a trans or non-binary person.
This is because feelings of gender dysphoria — the distress a person feels when the sex they were assigned at birth does not correlate with their gender identity — might be heightened around your period.
Periods can be triggering because they are often considered solely a “women’s issue,” leaving trans or non-binary people who menstruate feeling excluded and othered. The hyper-feminine language and bright colors used on period products also don’t help, often making feelings of unease, upset, and isolation much worse.
Fortunately, there are things trans and non-binary people can do to protect their mental health while menstruating. Keep reading for tips from the experts, plus gender-neutral period product advice, and information on how gender-affirming hormones might affect your cycle.
Trans period: How to protect your mental health while menstruating
It’s important to remember that not every trans and non-binary person who menstruates will feel dysphoric about their period. This is because, as Jack Doyle, trans health advocate, explains: “Every trans person has a unique relationship to their body — pretty similarly to cisgender women [someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth]. [That means] there’s a wide range of feelings about periods, and transness isn’t defined solely by dysphoria.”
For those who do experience dysphoria, there are some practical steps you can take to protect your mental well-being. Doyle recommends “building gender affirmation into your routine — like planning gender-affirming outfits, being around other trans people, and cutting out potential dysphoria triggers like social media.” This can help you feel more like yourself.
Painful periods might also act as a trigger for gender dysphoria. Jessee Lovegood, an associate marriage and family therapist who works with trans and non-binary teens, says “it can help to set reminders to take supplements or pain killers or [use] a heating pad or hot water bottle” in order to manage symptoms like cramps. Having a pain-free period can help take your mind off it and allow you to focus on things that can distract you from dysphoria, such as your favorite self-care activities.
Tapping in to a supportive network of trans and non-binary people and allies is also useful. You can read our guide to finding an LGBTQ-inclusive doctor or therapist here. Talking to others with a shared experience can help with the feelings of isolation and loneliness brought on by periods. This network could be in-person (through friends and local support groups for trans and non-binary people) or via online forums and social networks.
“Having a community helps us learn about options for dealing with problems that we may not have been able to come up with alone and to have people to help us feel heard, seen, and understood,” Lovegood explains.
Gender-neutral period products: Which period product is best for you?
Some period products come in very gendered packaging, but a lot of brands have begun using gender-neutral language that may help you if buying products labelled “for women” makes you feel dysphoric. Some brands have removed gendered language from their products altogether, such as tampon and pad brands Aunt Flow and GladRags, while Always removed the Venus symbol from their packaging in 2019 to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary people who menstruate.
There are a range of period products available depending on your needs and preferences. Many people use tampons, which are soft cotton or rayon-based products inserted into the vagina to absorb blood. Tampons must be changed every four to eight hours, but while inserted they cannot be felt, so it can be easy to forget that you are menstruating.
Similarly, menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina to catch blood as it flows from the uterus. Menstrual cups are flexible funnel-shaped cups made of rubber or silicone that are inserted by folding them in half and inserting them like a tampon. They can be worn for 6–12 hours before needing to be emptied, washed, and reinserted. You can buy gender-neutral menstrual cups from Lunette.
For those who are not able to use insertable period products, pads are an alternative option. Pads are rectangles of soft material that stick to your underwear and catch period blood. They need to be changed approximately every six hours during the day and are available in disposable or washable form.
Period underwear are another option for managing menstruation. They have an absorbent gusset that soaks up blood the same way a pad does, but they should feel dry unless it’s time to change them. Period underwear needs to be changed and washed after about six to eight hours, depending on flow and absorbency, so having multiple pairs is best. They come in a range of different styles: TomboyX offers absorbent boxer briefs, and Thinx sells absorbent boyshorts for trans and non-binary people.
Trans period: How gender-affirming hormones can affect your period
If a trans man or non-binary person begins gender-affirming testosterone therapy, it can take a few months for their periods to stop. Exactly how long it takes depends on the person, as gender-affirmative health care specialist Dr. Adrian Harrop and consultant endocrinologist Dr. King Sun Leong explain: “[It] does tend to vary quite a lot from person to person; however, in most cases, we would usually expect periods to stop within three months of starting testosterone.”
It is still possible to have periods or breakthrough bleeding while taking testosterone. Dr. Harrop and Dr. Leong say breakthrough bleeding “is mostly seen in those patients who are not taking an adequate or fully-optimized dose of testosterone.” They add that bleeding is most common in the first few months of treatment “while your body is adapting to the changes in your internal hormone balance.”
People don’t always realize that taking very high doses of testosterone can actually result in periods restarting, because the excess testosterone gets converted back into estrogen. This is because, as Dr. Harrop and Dr. Leong explain, “a person’s body can only use so much testosterone at any one time.” They recommend discussing unexpected episodes of bleeding straight away with your doctor or the gender-affirmative care provider prescribing your hormone therapy.
If you have been taking testosterone and decide to stop, Dr. Harrop and Dr. Leong say that “in general, a person who has been taking testosterone at an optimized dose would normally expect their periods to resume after a few months of not taking it.” It tends to take longer for periods to return for people who have been on testosterone for longer periods of time, they add, and in some cases, particularly in older patients, periods may not return at all.
Remember that trans men and non-binary people on testosterone can still become pregnant. In fact, a recent U.S. study found that 61 percent of pregnant trans men and non-binary people surveyed had used testosterone before becoming pregnant, and of these pregnancies, a quarter were unplanned. That’s why it’s so important to keep using contraception if you are sexually active to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Trans and non-binary periods: The takeaway
While periods might be difficult to navigate if you are a trans or non-binary person who experiences period-related dysphoria, there are steps you can take to protect your mental health during your cycle.
Building gender affirmation into your routine and mitigating pain can help, as can using gender-neutral period products. If you decide to use gender-affirming hormone therapy, your periods will usually stop altogether after a few months.
Trans and non-binary period resources
Please note these resources are just for reference and are in no way associated with Flo
If you’ve been affected by anything in this piece or are struggling with your mental health and would like to speak to someone, Flo has gathered links to support services that might be helpful. Please visit this page for helplines in different countries.
“What Is Gender Dysphoria?” Psychiatry.Org, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gender-dysphoria/what-is-gender-dysphoria. Accessed 5 Nov. 2021.
“Transgender Men Who Experienced Pregnancy After... : Obstetrics & Gynecology.” LWW, journals.lww.com/greenjournal/FullText/2014/12000/Transgender_Men_Who_Experienced_Pregnancy_After.9.aspx. Accessed 5 Nov. 2021.
History of updates
Current version (20 December 2021)
Medically reviewed by Casey Tanner, MA, Sex therapist, The Expansive Group, Illinois, US
Written by Robin Craig
16 December 2021
Spot On doesn't make any assumptions about your gender, sexual orientation, or reproductive goals. This app talks about your period and birth control the way real people do (so, no pink flowers or butterflies). The app is fun, playful, gender neutral, nonjudgmental, and completely supportive of you and your cycle.How to deal with your period as a trans guy? ›
- Use menstrual products that make you feel most comfortable. ...
- Use menstrual products that are gender neutral or that aren't marketed as being especially feminine, like boyshort or boxer brief style absorbent underwear.
While not all trans menstruators experience their menarche in negative terms, it seems fair to state that it is an event marked by cisnormativity. Experiences of menstruating later in life vary among menstruators as well. Some do not suffer from their periods in direct relation to their gender identity.Why does my period give me gender dysphoria? ›
After menarche, menstruation can be dysphoric for trans and non-binary individuals; however, the dysphoria in both menarche and later menses are both due to the established social norms of menstruation as feminine. The blood itself appears to have little meaning without its gendered connotation.How do you track your period if its irregular? ›
The most important symptom to track is the amount of bleeding. Write down when bleeding occurs, the amount of bleeding (light, medium, heavy or spotting) and denote the first day of continuous flow to track the start and end of your menstrual cycles.How do you find out if a girl is on her period? ›
- Abdominal cramps. Abdominal, or menstrual, cramps are also called primary dysmenorrhea. ...
- Breakouts. Menstruation-related breakouts are fairly common. ...
- Tender breasts. ...
- Fatigue. ...
- Bloating. ...
- Bowel issues. ...
- Headache. ...
- Mood swings.
“There are different things that might trigger your dysphoria, such as seeing a photograph of yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror, looking at yourself naked, being intimate with someone, feeling that your voice is too feminine or too masculine, being misgendered, being perceived as your assigned gender, being ...How long does it take for your period to stop on FTM? ›
After you begin masculinizing hormone therapy, you'll notice the following changes in your body over time: Menstruation stops. This will occur within 2 to 6 months of starting treatment. Voice deepens.What does dysphoria feel like FTM? ›
You may feel: certain that your gender identity conflicts with your biological sex. comfortable only when in the gender role of your preferred gender identity (may include non-binary) a strong desire to hide or be rid of physical signs of your biological sex, such as breasts or facial hair.How do trans transition from female to male? ›
For individuals transitioning from female to male (transgender men), medical treatment includes hormonal therapy with testosterone. Gender-affirming surgery includes "chest" surgery, such as mastectomy, and "genital" or "bottom" surgery, such as hysterectomy, oophorectomy, vaginectomy, metoidioplasty, and phalloplasty.
The prevalence of endometriosis in transgender men is higher than the female cisgender population. Surgeons must perform a careful intraoperative assessment of endometriotic foci within this group of patients. However, these data need confirmation with future, prospective studies.How do you stop dysphoria? ›
Exercise – a healthy amount of exercise can improve your mood. Do what you like - dance your heart out in your bedroom, do some yoga, ride a bike, go to circus classes, use the local park gym equipment, or look up exercises that will shape your body in ways that could reduce your dysphoria.Does gender dysphoria last? ›
Gender dysphoria might start in childhood and continue into adolescence and adulthood. Or you might have periods in which you no longer experience gender dysphoria. You might also experience gender dysphoria around the time of puberty or much later in life.How do you stop gender dysphoria? ›
Treatment options might include changes in gender expression and role, hormone therapy, surgery, and behavioral therapy. If you have gender dysphoria, seek help from a doctor who has expertise in the care of gender-diverse people.How to make your period start? ›
- Relaxation. Stress can sometimes be the cause of a delayed or missed period. ...
- Warm compress or bath. A warm bath may help relax tight muscles and relieve emotional stress. ...
- Sex. ...
- Reducing exercise if you're an athlete. ...
- Birth control.
Which Way Is Right for Me? If you want to cut down on the number of periods you have per year, experts suggest standard birth control pills, patches, or the vaginal ring. To stop your period long-term, birth control shots, long-term pills, and the IUD typically work best. Speak with your doctor about it.What causes a woman to see her period twice in one month? ›
Both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) can cause your menstrual cycle to become shorter, meaning you may have two periods within one month. Both conditions can be diagnosed with a blood test and treated with medication.What is the first period called? ›
Menarche is defined as the first menstrual period in a female adolescent. Menarche typically occurs between the ages of 10 and 16, with the average age of onset being 12.4 years.What is a period for boys? ›
Unlike the female reproductive system, boys do not have uterus and thus menstruation cannot occur. Therefore, it is biologically impossible for boys to have periods. However, boys during puberty may undergo mood swings or other emotional changes due to changing levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.Is brown blood considered first day of period? ›
At the beginning or end of your period, blood can be a dark brown/red shade and can have a thick consistency—but it's also normal for the first signs of your period to be bright red and more liquid.
Bottom dysphoria is a term often used to describe one's discomfort with their genitalia mismatching their gender identity.What is the root of gender dysphoria? ›
The exact cause of gender dysphoria is unclear. Gender development is complex and there are still things that are not known or fully understood. Gender dysphoria is not related to sexual orientation. People with gender dysphoria may identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.How can I tell if I have gender dysphoria? ›
- marked incongruence between your experienced and expressed gender and your primary or secondary sex characteristics.
- strong desire to be rid of your primary or secondary sex characteristics.
- strong desire for the primary or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender.
Some men may experience a return of spotting or heavier bleeding after months or even years of testosterone treatment. In most cases this represents changes in the body's metabolism over time.Does transitioning stop your period? ›
It is normal to still have a period after you start taking testosterone. It can take up to 6 months for the right amount of testosterone to build up in the body to cause periods to stop. Some studies have shown that with moderate amounts of testosterone it can even take up to a year for periods to cease.What does testosterone do to periods? ›
Taking testosterone will usually cause changes to the menstrual cycle, and after some time taking testosterone, many people find that their menstruation stops completely.What are the three kinds of dysphoria? ›
Various types of dysphoria include rejection sensitive dysphoria, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and gender dysphoria.How do you shower with dysphoria? ›
Bathe in dim lights. Using a dim light while showering, plugging in a bathroom nightlight, or attaching a wall light to a wall can help with dysphoria while you shower. Since it's in the middle of having the lights on and off, you can still see without it being too dark.How do you treat dysphoria FTM? ›
- psychological support, such as counselling.
- cross-sex hormone therapy.
- speech and language therapy (voice therapy) to help you sound more typical of your gender identity.
The transition process can take anywhere from months to years to complete, depending on the person's age and which, if any, medical procedure options for transition they choose.
Many trans women are interested in estrogen through injection. Estrogen injections tend to cause very high and fluctuating estrogen levels which can cause mood swings, weight gain, hot flashes, anxiety or migraines. Additionally, little is known about the effects of these high levels over the long term.How can I change my gender without surgery? ›
Hormone therapy can help you achieve more masculine or feminine characteristics. Commonly prescribed by a primary care provider or endocrinologist, hormone treatments can be part of a presurgical plan or a stand-alone service.
Lemon juice, just like apple cider vinegar, is a highly acidic food item. Lemon juice to delay period is one of the oldest and widely used remedy to delay periods.
Since your estrogen and progesterone levels are low during the period, it causes your body to retain water, which makes you feel bloated and experience cramps. Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day during your period helps in fighting bloating and cramps as it flushes out your system.Can I push my period out faster? ›
Healthy cardio and workout routines can help lighten your period. Exercising also alleviates cramps and bloating because it pumps you up with happy chemicals and lessens water retention. Working out may also reduce the length of your period because stronger muscles help your cycle function faster.Can a trans man have a cervix? ›
Trans men and non-binary people who have had a total hysterectomy to remove their cervix do not need cervical screening. Trans men and non-binary people who still have a cervix should have cervical screening to help prevent cervical cancer.Can I get a hysterectomy as a trans man? ›
Hysterectomy with and without salpingectomy/oophorectomy is considered by WPATH to be a medically necessary component of gender affirming surgical therapy for those transgender men who choose to seek this procedure.Do trans men get PMDD? ›
If you are trans or non-binary you can still get PMDD. If you are trans or non-binary, PMDD may increase feelings of discomfort with the gender you were assigned at birth. You may also find it difficult to talk to a GP, particularly if you have had a bad experience in the past.What happens if you don't treat gender dysphoria? ›
Although gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, when not addressed, it may lead to worsening mood issues, depression and anxiety, and may further complicate the issues the individuals may be having. Insurance may cover some illnesses associated with gender dysphoria and gender dysphoria care.Is dysphoria permanent? ›
Studies show that up to 94 percent of childhood gender dysphoria cases are alleviated by puberty or otherwise resolve on their own. Medical care professionals should not be allowed to apply permanent, non-reversible treatment for a condition that so often resolves with time.
Pubertal blockers, often called “blockers,” are a type of medicine called “GnRH-agonists.” They are used to help temporarily suspend or block the physical changes of puberty. Pubertal blockers interrupt the signal from the brain to the gonads, which are the organs that make the hormones of puberty.At what age is gender dysphoria most common? ›
Gender dysphoria history: Of the 55 TM patients included in our study, 41 (75%) reported feeling GD for the first time by age 7, and 53 (96%) reported first experiencing GD by age 13 (Table 2).Can you self diagnose gender dysphoria? ›
While you can "self-test" yourself or your child for gender dysphoria, this should only be considered the first step toward a diagnosis. Even as adults, people can have difficulty articulating their true feelings or identifying the sources of those feelings.Does puberty make gender dysphoria worse? ›
Gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress that might accompany a difference between experienced or expressed gender and sex assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria that starts in childhood and worsens with the start of puberty rarely goes away.What does bottom dysphoria feel like? ›
It can manifest as distress, depression, anxiety, restlessness or unhappiness. It might feel like anger or sadness, or feeling slighted or negative about your body, or like there are parts of you missing.What does chest dysphoria feel like? ›
Chest dysphoria is a type of experience that occurs alongside gender dysphoria, which is felt by transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people. It is the pervasive experience of intense discomfort or distress about one's chest or chest area.Is there a period simulator? ›
The simulator contracts the muscles to imitate abdominal cramps, similar to what many experience during menstruation while still going about their daily activities. Perry says, while period pain is experienced worldwide, it is often minimized or ignored, despite its debilitating impact.Is there an app for men period? ›
The app, Fredrick, works as any typical menstruation app does, but with a twist in the favor of the patriarchy – it was designed solely to be an “honest menstrual cycle navigator for men” to provide its users with a forecast of “her potential mood of the day.”How can I track my partners period? ›
Clue Connect is a simple and secure way for you to give information about your menstrual cycle to partners, friends and family — making it easier to connect with the important people in your life and open up the conversation about periods, fertility and health.Is period tracker never accurate? ›
Are period trackers accurate? The information given by these apps are not 100% accurate. But there are also studies that state that dates predicted by period trackers are most of the time accurate unless affected by any other external or hormonal factors.
“They'll still bleed, but often lighter.” That lighter period is called withdrawal bleeding, or a “fake period.” If you have a steady stream of hormones in your body, during your period week (where you might take your placebo pills), your body mimics that drop in estrogen and progesterone, which causes the bleeding.Is there a way to push your period? ›
They might be able to prescribe medication called norethisterone to delay your period. Your GP will advise you when to take norethisterone and for how long. You'll usually be prescribed 3 norethisterone tablets a day, starting 3 to 4 days before you expect your period to begin.What age is period real? ›
Most girls get their first period when they're around 12. But getting it any time between age 10 and 15 is OK. Every girl's body has its own schedule.Why does my boyfriend keep track of my period? ›
It's actually really responsible of him, it means he knows when you're at your most fertile (for avoidance purposes) and he knows if you're late. It's not weird, he probably just want's to be more in tune with you!Is Flo a period tracker? ›
As a one-stop solution for all things female health and well-being, Flo provides all-in-one tracking for period start date and length, fertile window, peak ovulation days, PMS symptoms, flow intensity, birth control, and much more. Follow your baby's growth weekly during pregnancy.What is Flo period app? ›
Based on advanced AI technology, Flo period calendar helps you to monitor your menstruation, ovulation, cycle, fertility, or pregnancy accurately.Can I tell my boyfriend I'm on my period? ›
The most important thing is to be honest about how you both feel. Tell them you're on your period, ask if they're cool (or not) and take it from there. No pressure. No drama.Do I count spotting as first day of period? ›
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period, meaning the first day of full flow (spotting doesn't count). During this time, the uterus sheds its lining from the previous cycle. Between days 1 – 5 of your cycle, new follicles (sacs of fluid containing eggs) begin to develop within your ovaries.Should I delete my period tracker? ›
If you've been using an app that sends your data to the cloud, you should delete it, Holland said. It's also a good idea to turn off location tracking on your phone if you plan to visit a health clinic in a state that bans abortion.Why are people deleting their period trackers? ›
Many American women in recent days have deleted period tracking apps from their cellphones, amid fears the data collected by the apps could be used against them in future criminal cases in states where abortion has become illegal.
According to the complaint, Flo Health's disclosures of sensitive information about users' pregnancies or periods broke its privacy assurances to consumers and violated several of the third parties' own terms of service – terms Flo Health had agreed to.Why should I delete Flo? ›
In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with makers of the fertility and period app Flo after the FTC alleged they misled consumers and disclosed sensitive health information, such as the fact of a user's pregnancy, to third parties like Facebook and Google.