Transgender people face a number of unique health challenges. For instance, they may suffer from gender dysphoria, a condition characterized by anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that can result from a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity. Transgender people may also have difficulty accessing quality healthcare due to discrimination or a lack of providers who are knowledgeable about transgender health concerns.
Additionally, transgender people are at an increased risk for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 million people identify as transgender in the United States, and transgender people made up 2% of new HIV diagnoses in the country. This is partly due to higher rates of unprotected sex and partly due to discrimination faced by transgender people when trying to access healthcare. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the unique health challenges faced by transgender people and how to overcome them.
Health challenges faced by transgender people
Transgender people may face a number of challenging health issues. Here are some key transgender health issues transgender persons should discuss with their doctors:
Access to healthcare
Transgender persons often face discrimination and barriers to care. They may avoid medical care out of fear of being rejected or having negative experiences. Many have been turned away or treated disrespectfully by health care providers. Others have struggled to find providers who are knowledgeable about transgender issues and can give them the specialized care they need.
In addition, transgender health services are often not covered by insurance, making them unaffordable for many transgender people. As a result of these barriers, transgender persons may avoid seeking medical care altogether, putting their health at risk. It’s important for transgender people to be aware of their rights when seeking medical care and to find healthcare providers who are knowledgeable and respectful of their needs.
According to the American Cancer Society, transgender people are also at an increased risk for certain types of cancers, such as breast and cervical cancer in trans women and prostate cancer in trans men. Regular screenings can help detect these cancers early, so it’s important for transgender people to get screened according to their specific needs.
Hormone therapy can be an important part of the transition process for transgender individuals. By taking hormones, transgender people can make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity.
However, hormone therapy is not without risks. Testosterone, for instance, can damage the liver, especially when taken in high doses or by mouth. Similarly, estrogen can increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and may also cause blood clots. Anti-androgens, such as spironolactone, can also have side effects, such as lowering blood pressure, disturbing electrolyte levels, and dehydration.
Gender dysphoria is a condition in which a person experiences distress related to their gender identity. It can be caused by both internal and external factors, such as social rejection or discrimination. Treatment for gender dysphoria often includes psychological therapy, hormone therapy, and sometimes surgery.
It’s important for transgender people to seek help if they are experiencing feelings of gender dysphoria, as these feelings can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that can result from a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity.
While lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity play a role in increasing one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, the fact that transgender people are often treated with hormone therapy also puts them at greater risk. Therefore, it is generally recommended that all transgender persons have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked as part of their regular health care.
Preventive care and screenings for transgender people
Despite the fact that gender affirmation surgery is becoming increasingly accepted, there is still a lot of misinformation about what it entails. For example, many people mistakenly believe that people who have had gender affirmation surgery no longer need to undergo clinical Pap tests, breast exams or prostate cancer screening. However, this is not the case.
Transgender people still have their reproductive organs, and they are just as susceptible to health concerns as anyone else. As a result, it is essential that trans people receive the same level of care as everyone else. Here are preventive and diagnostic screenings recommended for transgender people:
Pap tests and breast exam
For trans women, receiving regular Pap tests and breast exams are essential. Even if they have already had gender affirmation surgery, their reproductive organs may still produce cervical cells that need to be monitored for any changes. It’s also important for trans women to get mammograms on a regular basis in order to detect any possible signs of breast cancer.
For trans men, it’s important to receive regular clinical breast exams in order to look for any signs of breast cancer. Trans men may also consider getting a Pap test every three years if they still have a cervix.
Prostate cancer screening
For trans men, it is recommended that they get prostate cancer screenings every other year, starting at age 40. This is especially important if they still have a prostate gland.
For those with neovaginas, it is important to receive regular pelvic exams in order to detect any possible signs of infection or cancer. It’s also important that they get a Pap test every three years.
Colorectal cancer screening
Colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for all people, regardless of their gender identity. However, trans men should also get a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year after age 50 in order to detect any possible signs of colorectal cancer.
Cervical and ovarian cancer screenings
For trans women, cervical cancer screenings are recommended every three years starting at age 25. It is also important for them to get regular ovarian cancer screenings in order to detect any possible signs of this disease.
Hormone therapy can be an effective way to help transgender people achieve the physical changes they desire to make their gender identity more consistent with their sex assigned at birth. However, it’s essential that trans people are well-informed about the potential side effects of taking hormones, and that they receive regular blood tests in order to ensure their hormone levels remain within a safe range.
It is also important for transgender people to be aware of the increased risk of certain illnesses or medical conditions associated with hormone therapy. For instance, testosterone can increase a trans man’s risk of developing blood clots, and estrogen can increase a trans woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer.
STI and hepatitis screenings
Transgender people are at an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hepatitis, which can have serious health consequences if left untreated. Therefore, it is recommended that all transgender persons receive regular STD testing and Hepatitis screenings as part of their preventive care.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screenings are recommended every three months for anyone who is sexually active with multiple partners, and Syphilis screenings should be done at least once a year.
HIV testing is recommended for all transgender persons regardless of their risk factors, as well as at least once a year for those who are sexually active with multiple partners.
Mental health check
Transgender people often experience discrimination and stigma which can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It is therefore important that trans people receive regular mental health screenings and support in order to maintain their emotional wellbeing.
Cardiovascular disease screenings
Transgender people also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which can be prevented or managed through lifestyle changes and medication. As such, it’s important for transgender people to get regular blood pressure and cholesterol screenings in order to detect any early warning signs of this condition.
Make sure you get regular and preventive diagnostic screenings
Nao Medical recognizes the importance of preventive care for all individuals – including those who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. Our NYC urgent care locations offer a safe and welcoming environment for all patients, and we’ll be sure to provide you with the best possible care.
If you or someone you know is seeking medical care or advice specifically tailored to the needs of transgender individuals, Nao Medical can help ensure that transgender people are able to detect any potential health issues and receive the proper treatment in a timely manner. With regular preventive care, transgender individuals can enjoy a long and happy life. Visit a Nao Medical clinic near you today!