DIY Estrogen HRT: The Self-Made Woman
by Ashley Adamson on Aug 17, 2022
I’ve been on estrogen for several years now. I’ve also been through difficult circumstances while on HRT, including a move to Germany where I couldn’t access the hormones I was used to.
This led me to figure out how to DIY my HRT: how to get the hormones I need, even when I can’t get a prescription or visit a pharmacy.
First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I am not offering medical advice - just my personal perspective and experience. If you are able to talk to a doctor about HRT, that is the safest route, and probably the path you should follow.
However, there are many reasons you might not be able to access HRT:
It’s not available in some countries and states. Some people can’t access a prescription due to gatekeeping. If you are in a situation where you have no other option to transition and reduce your dysphoria, you should do your research and try to be as safe as possible.
My DIY Estrogen HRT Story
I started my medical transition by talking with a doctor. Under the informed consent model, I didn’t have to jump through any additional hoops to prove I was trans. With a doctor’s guidance, I started taking estrogen.
I started with the anti-androgen spironolactone and estradiol in pill tablet form. I found it kind of annoying to need to take pills all the time, so I switched to injectable estrogen.
The cost wasn’t a big deal at first, because I was covered by insurance. However, if I was traveling I needed to stock up, and that could cost hundreds of dollars.
When I moved to Germany, I realized that injectable estrogen wasn’t even available! I knew I wasn’t going back to pills and patches, so I needed to find a new solution.
Luckily, I found out about a chemist who worked in Ukraine, exporting estradiol enanthate: an injectable form of estrogen (Thanks Lena!).
I still use estradiol enanthate today, although I am back in the US now.
I love that it has a softer curve so my levels don’t spike. I also appreciate the cost savings. It’s only about $100 for a year’s supply of estradiol enanthate, so I can stockpile 3 years' worth that won’t expire for 5 years. That way, if there is a shortage I will be covered.
What Medications are Used in DIY Estrogen HRT?
The standard prescriptions that I started with are a testosterone blocker (most commonly spironolactone) and estrogen. In some cases, progesterone is prescribed and added later.
A testosterone blocker like spironolactone binds to the testosterone receptors in your body to block the masculizing effects. Spironolactone does have some known side effects. It is a diuretic that will cause you to pee more and crave salty foods.
Estrogen comes in many different forms.
Estrogen Pills can be taken orally (swallowing them) or sublingually (allowing them to dissolve on the tongue). There are some health concerns about how the liver processes orally ingested estrogen, so talk to a doctor if you have any liver issues before taking oral estrogen.
Estrogen patches are applied to the skin. These are easy and convenient, but we don’t have as much data on MTF estrogen patches, and there are some issues with blood clots.
Estrogen injections keep hormone levels constant, and you only need an injection every 5 to 7 days. However, injecting yourself is a skill you need to learn to use this method, and there are sometimes supply shortages or restrictions on injectable estrogen.
When it comes to injectable estrogen, there are three main types:
- Estradiol valerate levels rise quickly and drop off quickly. Estradiol valerate should be injected approximately every 5 days.
- Estradiol cypionate has a longer curve, with levels rising more slowly in the body and dropping off more gradually, reducing mood swings, etc. Estradiol cypionate should be injected every 5-7 days.
- Estradiol enanthate has an even longer curve, so levels don’t spike as much. Estradiol enanthate should be injected approximately every 5-7 days.
Safety Concerns about DIY Estrogen HRT
So you can access the HRT you need, without a prescription.
That doesn’t mean going the DIY route is without risks.
You can’t be 100% sure about the product you are receiving from an online pharmacy without testing it. That’s a lot of trust.
You also don’t know how hormones will affect your body, and everyone is different. You could have an allergy to one of these medications that you don’t know about yet. You might get feminizing results too slowly, or unevenly if you are not measuring your hormone levels regularly with blood tests.
If you are going to DIY your estrogen HRT, like I did, do as much research as possible, look for reviews from other trans people online, and see a doctor whenever you can.
DIY Estrogen HRT Resources
If you’re ready for some more detailed resources and sources, a great place to start is reddit.com/r/transDIY
If you want to talk more about this with people who are going through it, just like you, join the discord group, where you can chat with me and other trans people. You can also sign up to my email list to hear about new content, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the bell so you’ll be notified every time a new video comes out.
Do your research and be safe, but if the only way to transition is to go DIY, do it for yourself, girl!