I’ve also been posting elsewhere about my surgery, and the question came up about how estrogen affected my sexual drive.
Yes, my libido dropped off sharply after starting estrogen.
Estrogen is notorious for killing the libidos of trans women. But a bit part of that is when you start estrogen, you’ve usually decided to transition, and is unbelievably stressful. (Preparing to transition is like simultaneously planning your wedding and the arrival of your first-born child, while worrying whether you’re going to get laid off, and running a marathon every day — I’m only slightly exaggerating….)
So that kind of stress can definitely kill one’s libido by itself. I found my libido started bouncing back post-transition.
It also changes your libido to become more stereotypically “female” (i.e. context matters much more, it can take longer to get going, but OTOH, whole-body orgasms and I’ve developed the ability to be multi-orgasmic. 😀 whole body/multiple orgasms actually were the result of becoming estrogen-powered being rather than the genital reassignment surgery.
Reading Emily Nagoski’s excellent “Come As You Are” was really useful in helping me understand my re-wired sexual response. Nagoski’s “restaurant analogy” between stereotypical male/female sexual desire responses has been definitely applicable to me.
Now sexuality is definitely influenced by culture, but the experience of trans women and trans men show that there’s a clear bio-chemical component. When trans men start testosterone typically their libidos go through the roof (i.e. they become like horny 13-year-old boys who are mortified by unexpected and unwanted erections that invariably come at awkward times.)
FWIW, trans men on T also typically experience an increase in assertiveness not unlike teenage cisgender boys, while trans women on E experience heightened and more complex emotions. (E.g. I’d never experienced the happy/sad cry pre-E.) But just like cisgender teens, we learn to manage these.
“Hormone therapy” is a combination of taking estrogen, and sometimes progesterone as well, combined with a testosterone blocker — some my levels of estrogen/testosterone were equivalent to a cisgender woman pre-surgery. (Obviously post-surgery the testosterone blocker is no longer needed, although ironically some trans women take small amounts to increase their libidos, similar to the treatment used with cisgender women.”)
I started hormones two years prior to the surgery, and my voyage of sexual rediscovery actually began prior to that. The Hitachi wand is a magical and magnificent thing, and while I still had a penis I’d “tuck” by putting on a tight pair of panties and then tucking the penis backwards, and then apply the wand to my groin. (This is easier to do once on hormones since one side effect of hormones is that it’s often difficult to achieve/maintain a full erection.)
Aside from being fun in itself, it was a conscious effort to retrain my body and my mind, especially after hormones. Whole body orgasms kind of developed slowly and naturally, they stopped being less penile-specific and became more and more diffuse over time.
Multiple orgasms initially came by accident, and it’s something I’ve since worked to cultivate, although it’s not something I consistently acheive. I should make clear that orgasm was separate from ejaculation — once the latter occurred it was game over, since biologically there are mechanisms that cause loss of erection post-ejaculation (albeit there’s a few men who can override this).