Start the conversation: transgender people

By : Jeremy Williams
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How often should you see your primary care physician? What health screenings, evaluations and/or vaccinations should you have? Should you be on any medications? Don’t ask us! We aren’t real doctors, we only occasionally play one on TV.

Just like every fingerprint, snowflake and social media opinion; each person’s individual health concerns are varied and different. That’s why the only effective healthy game plan for you is one that is constructed between you and your doctor.

Below are health issues and concerns that, based on CDC and GLMA recommendations, are good questions to start off the conversation with your healthcare team. We have arranged it so transgender individuals can cut out this section and take it with them to their next doctor’s appointment.

Health history:

It’s important for you to be able to trust your healthcare provider. Tell them about the medicines you have taken and the surgeries you may have had. If your provider knows what has happened with you in the past, they will be better able to give you the best treatment today.

Transgender persons may be at increased risk for heart attack or stroke, not only from hormone use but from high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking or being overweight. Transgender women may fear that their provider may make them stop estrogen if they develop heart trouble, and so they may not report feelings such as chest pain or trouble breathing. Be sure to tell your provider if you do have these feelings.

Hormones:

Talk with your provider about hormone treatment. If you are starting hormones for the first time, ask about the things you need to watch out for while taking these medicines. If you are a transgender woman, ask about estrogen and blood clots, swelling, high or low blood pressure and high blood sugar. If you are a transgender man, ask about the blood tests you will need to be sure your testosterone dose is safe.

Sexual health tests:

Just as with gay and bisexual men, transgender individuals have a higher risk of HIV infection. Being tested for HIV is recommended every 3-6 months, but at a minimum at least once a year. Talk with your health care provider about whether PrEP or PEP are appropriate for you based on your HIV status and sexual practices.

Screenings for herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia should be conducted at least once a year. It is recommended, along with blood and urine tests, that an oral swab be conducted for those who perform oral sex and a vaginal and/or rectal swab be conducted for those who receive vaginal and/or anal sex to test for gonorrhea and chlamydia infections that may not show up in blood and/or urine.

Diet, exercise and healthy habits:

A healthy diet and a frequent exercise routine are just as important for transgender people as for anyone else. If you are planning to have surgery, your surgeon will want to be sure you are in good physical condition to do well during and after surgery. Talk with your healthcare team about healthy diet and exercise options that fit into your everyday life.

Alcohol and hormones may be more dangerous when taken together. Transgender persons who are on hormones should drink only small amounts, if at all. Transgender people are more likely to be smokers than cisgender people. This increases the risk of heart and lung disease, especially in a person taking hormones. If you smoke, speak with your doctor about smoking cessation programs and/or medications that are available.

Injectable silicone administered by non-medical individuals at “pumping parties” is dangerous and should not be used. It is usually not medical grade, may be contaminated and is often injected using a shared needle which increases the risk of getting hepatitis or HIV.

This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or replace your healthcare professional. The lists do not include all health topics to be discussed with your healthcare provider, simply tips to begin the conversation. Consult your physician for further information.

 

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