One of the worries about hormone therapy for transgender people is over bone density. Cis women are at higher risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) than cis men are. Sex hormones are needed for good bone health. Specifically — estrogen is known to encourage bone health. The loss of estrogen during menopause is what’s thought to cause osteoporosis in cis women. Does the change in sex hormones involved in hormone therapy change bone density?
We have a little more data on that now, thanks to a study out of Europe. This was the same data set as a previous study on weight. So we’ll skip the study details for now.
The question this part of the study asked can be summarized as: After 1 year of hormone therapy, with no surgery, was there a change in the bone density of adult trans women and trans men?
And the answer? For trans women: Yes. Trans women gained bone density after a year of hormone therapy. They gained as much as 4.5%, depending on the measurement location. For trans men?: No. There was basically no change in their bone density.
Promising news, in either case. There was no loss over one year on hormone therapy.
If you’re concerned about your bone density, talk with your doctor! Making sure that you eat enough calcium (in food form, not supplements) is also helpful. Most important of all, make sure you get good weight bearing exercise like walking, running, and jumping.
As a final note: this was a European study. The hormones used in Europe are different than the ones used in the United States. The results may not be applicable in the United States.
Want to read the study for yourself? The abstract is publicly available!