The T Party – What No One Tells You About Starting Testosterone

4174
What testosterone delivery looks like
The testosterone syringe of power

So, let it be known that testosterone is awesome. Whether you’re a trans man or a trans woman or non-binary, hormones are considered one of the biggest milestones of the transitioning experience (and this isn’t to say that any part of the stereotypical transitioning experience is required, but that’s another story for another time).

Full disclosure. At the time of writing, I’ve been on testosterone for a grand total of almost four months. And what a ride it’s been. Now you’ll notice every single guide written for trans guys and trans-masculine folk on what they can expect from starting testosterone usually covers the same few things: you’re horny, hungry, and hairy.

And this is typically true for anyone on testosterone. But there’s a few other things that, when reading Hudson’s Guide or scrolling through Facebook levitra or viagra groups, that no one’s really keen to talk about. But nevertheless, it’s things that I and other guys have somehow experienced. Now this isn’t to say that every single trans guy or trans masculine person on testosterone will experience these things. But I figure they’re common enough that it’s worth the look.

That Zen Feeling

It was a quarter to five on a Friday when I got to inject my first shot of testosterone into my thigh. And what a glorious moment it was. The birds were singing (actually, literally. I live on a farm), the needle went in my naked thigh without a fuss, and the first thing I noticed once I’d injected all the oil was the feeling.

I’d been imagining the feeling for a while. And I’m still not sure if it had anything to do with the hormones themselves or knowing I’d finally obtained what I’d been trying to get on for years. But there was this incredible moment of feeling zen, of feeling whole. To be honest, it was surreal.

In the moments after my first shot, I went for a brief jog and then plopped down on the couch, just reveling in the feeling. It was probably the first time in my life I’d ever had a hint of feeling like I actually belonged in my body. When we talk about hormones, we often focus more on the physical changes- like the facial hair, the muscle growth, the fat distribution. But there’s a mental element to it. And while life isn’t perfect now nor do I feeling amazing and zen all the time even after a few months of being on testosterone, it’s getting easier. And in general, things are a little easier to manage. I’m a little calmer now, less anxious. Definitely a complete 180 from where I was pre-T.

Testosterone Injections Burn (Just a Little)

Now, I felt amazing right after my first shot. But for a good couple hours after my injection, I felt a deep burn radiating around the injection site. Not enough to cause a lot of worry. But enough to where I wondered whether I was doing everything right.

Spoiler alert. I wasn’t. Yeah, here’s the thing about giving yourself a shot. You have to wait for a couple seconds after wiping the injection site with an alcohol swab before you jab the needle in. Otherwise, the injection burns like Satan’s case of chlamydia.

Now even after getting a little smarter and less impatient with my injections, I still experience a slight burning in the area. Don’t worry. It goes away pretty quickly. But you’ll want to keep that in mind, just so you’re not running to a Facebook group or to your doctor in a panic, trying to figure out if you screwed something up or not.

You’ll Hate Salt (And Other Taste Bud Changes)

Full disclosure. I love food. Love, love, love it. While a problematic love when it comes to my waistline, there are very few foods I won’t willingly shove into my face hole.

My taste buds didn’t go through a complete 180. But I can tell you that it wasn’t something I actually expected testosterone to affect at all. But from what I’ve heard from other trans guys, it’s fairly common.

I, for one, a former salt addict found that a lot of salt, something I used to never be able to get enough of, suddenly became a complete turn-off. Not all trans guys seem to hate salt after being on testosterone but new cravings and dislikes for previously loved foods seem to be on the table.

I ate almost nothing but carrots, hummus, grilled meat, and peanut butter fortified protein shakes for the first month or so after I started testosterone. And believe me, it was no intentional attempt at an Atkins diet or whatever. It’s just what I craved. If you’re anything like, you’re going to be leaning towards lots of protein. And you’re a growing boy. Nothing wrong with that.

It did balance out though after a few months of being on T. I don’t hate French fries, although I’m a little more picky about them now.

The Itchiness

Christ on a crutch, growing hair is an itchy process. Now, anyone who shaves and has to deal with hair growing back in can tell you that. Up until I’d started T though, I’d managed to go at least three years without shaving any part of my body, save for the occasional peach fuzz shearing I’d do to feel better about myself. So I’d forgotten what it was like to feel the itchiness of hair growing in.

When you’re on testosterone, you grow hair almost everywhere. Your leg hair thickens up. Hairs pop in to stay on your chest and belly. Your body hair grows thicker and darker. Without trying to sound like a puberty manual (although this is sort of the point of the article, I guess), the reality of all this hair growing in is that you will itch. A lot. Get used to it, gentlemen. The belly fuzz is worth it.

Sleep Apnea

Alright, so this isn’t the case for everyone thankfully. And it’s not something that, as of this time, I’ve actually had to experience (knock on wood). But it can happen. So be prepared.

Men tend to be at higher risk of developing sleep apnea. On testosterone, especially if you’re overweight and have a family history of it, your chances are about equal to that of a cis male. Frankly, since I fit the criteria, I’m kind of surprised I haven’t developed it yet.

It’s treatable, no worries. While you may have to wear a sleep mask, it’s not necessarily a life or death condition. You’ll do just fine.

Now not everything in this article is something all trans men will experience. You may very well experience non-itchy body hair development or enjoy the same foods you always have with no difference in how you taste them. But it seems to be common enough. Hopefully this will make starting testosterone, if you haven’t at this time, a little less of a foreign experience.

Byron James Kimball
Follow me at

Byron James Kimball

Byron James Kimball is a freelance writer and editor based in Oregon. FTM and queer-identified, Byron hopes to raise awareness of social justice issues in his own town. When he’s not writing, Byron isn’t quite sure what to do with himself.
Byron James Kimball
Follow me at