Hormones and How We Think

February 16, 2015

in Uncategorized

I read an odd and interesting article recently – Libido & Conversing: What Transsexuals Can Teach Heteros. A big part of a “sex change” is hormonal. Surgery and or blockers reduce the natural sex hormones, and then the hormones of the new gender are added. This affects both the body and the mind. I suspect it changes the mind far more than it does the body, as the mind is more easily manipulated.

The author of the article listed some changes noted by individuals who had gone from one gender to the other. In particular, he pointed out changes in sex drive and “interest in conversation”. Those who added testosterone reported more sex drive and less interest in talking. Those who reduced testosterone and added female hormones experienced a drop in sex drive and an increase desire to talk.

 Testosterone lesson © cacaroot | dollarphotoclub.com

It seems two of the most common issues couples have are, in part, a result of their different hormones. This should cause us all to think, and to have more compassion for our spouse. I’m not suggesting we can blame things on our hormones and go merrily on our way, but understanding things are aggravated by hormones should change how we see many situations. A man should be more understanding of his wife’s lower drive, and her greater need for conversation. For a woman it would go the other way around. 

I did some digging on this and information from individuals who have had the hormonal changes performed. Along with sex drive and interest in talking, I found mentions of aggression and competitiveness with  testosterone, and being more emotional (or less emotionally numb) with less testosterone. Fascinating stuff. Below are some quotes:

Those Adding Testosterone:

  • Testosterone not only increased my sex drive ten-fold, but changed the nature of it as well. It became less diffuse and more goal-oriented, which is probably how the word “score” entered the sexual lexicon. It also, in certain situations, became less about any other person and more about me.
  • [Sex] became very visual. I saw it, I wanted it – whatever it was. This was a new experience for me, because, in the past, I had not been aroused so much by pictures and body parts (or pictures of body parts) as I had been by words – erotic descriptions, stories, and things said to me.
  • As a woman, I used to really enjoy dishing with the girls. As a man, I have less tolerance for women’s talking. I’ve noticed that Jen [his girlfriend] can talk endlessly.
  • I am calmer, less emotional
  • I have less empathy and less feelings of love
  • My sex drive really skyrocketed …sometimes it’s annoying. I became more interested in visual types of porn and focusing on the person’s body. I mean, I always preferred reading stories and I still do, but videos/pictures did nothing for me before and now they do.

Those Blocking Testosterone and Adding Female Hormones:

  • My sex drive has diminished substantially…masturbation and sex don’t interest me
  • Amplified my emotions.
  • [Stopped  feeling] anger that I did not want to feel, and couldn’t control
  • Way less uncontrollable anger
  • Competitiveness has just disappeared – I don’t really enjoy video games that formed a large part of my life, mainly because i don’t seem to care all that much about outperforming the other team any more.
  • Less competitive or quick-to-anger
  • I am definitely less competitive
  • My need for sex has gone away, meaning there is no constant urge.
  • My sex drive crashed like the Hindenburg.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I find hormones and brain function amazing

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny February 16, 2015 at 9:46 am

Fascinating! My husband is so very competitive and I have a hard time understanding it.
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Dan February 18, 2015 at 10:50 am

It certainly seems to give some more weight to the nature side of the nature vs nurture equation.
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Paul Byerly February 18, 2015 at 11:48 am

I think a good deal of it is hard wired. Nurture can push it either way, but only so far without doing harm.
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superslaviswife February 20, 2015 at 11:06 am

I wonder what the hormone balance is like in men who possess the feminine traits described above and women who possess the masculine traits described above. Because I’d say I’m more of the low conversation, high sex drive, highly visual people, but I don’t have many physical traits associated with high testosterone in women (like wide waist, facial hair or high competitiveness). Likewise, I have known men who had all the physical traits of a masculine man, but a lot of the social traits we’d consider feminine.

If these differences can be altered hormonally, perhaps there are also variants in the receptors? That could be something that makes your body say “man” and your personality say “woman”.
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Paul Byerly February 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

It’s a fascinating issue, and studies are limited. It seems the brain is influenced by hormones a great deal during pregnancy, and I suspect this is a big factor later in life. However we are learning the brain is very plastic, and can be significantly modified even after puberty by a number of things, including hormones.
I understand being some of both. In some ways I lean towards the more feminine, but in others I am strongly male – a rather odd mix I think. Fortunately I like who I am and it works well for me!
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superslaviswife February 27, 2015 at 9:32 am

Maybe certain traits develop in a certain order? It would explain how some men have feminine hair growth patterns and soft voices, but masculine muscle and drive; or some women have masculine libido and high testosterone markers in hand growth, but feminine figures and low competitiveness. A flush of testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, etc suddenly twists something JUST as it was bedding in, but is gone by the time the nuances of another trait, such as hair growth, have even begun to develop.
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Paul Byerly February 27, 2015 at 10:43 am

There is evidence timing of hormones is a factor in some things. Which and when is less clear.
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