From Gel to Shots: My Experience With Testosterone Administration

I was the child who hid under the table at the doctor’s office, screaming and crying, when it was time to get my vaccines. There was no way I fathomed being able to handle giving myself shots of testosterone. Therefore, I decided that Androgel was the way to go, and would be the perfect solution for me.

So in the almost sixteen months I have been on testosterone, why have I been giving myself shots for almost the past fifteen?

Androgel just doesn’t agree with everyone. I found that out the hard way.

I first started using it, applying it as directed. I had the little packets, not the pump. And at first, some things seemed great. My libido was super charged, and I had more energy and felt better overall. But my anger levels seemed to be really unusually high, too, and I didn’t know why.

Then, I started not feeling well and getting sick. Before I realized it, I saw an omnious red rash covering my chest. I had a terrible allergic reaction to Androgel, and it’s marked in my chart that I cannot take it at my doctor’s office. I also looked it up and found a lot of stories from cis men who had taken it for different reasons, and also had negative health reactions to it.

So. . . I chose shots as the next option.

And a lot of people choose shots over gel because they claim the changes happen “faster”, but for me that wasn’t even a factor. Anyway. . .

Despite being pretty scared of needles. I mean, I have tattoos, but that’s different, isn’t it? Tattoo needles only go into the skin. Whereas shots? Well, they go further. And to have to give them to myself? I was terrified. I had never known anyone as phobic of getting shots as myself.

I even chose to stop getting flu shots when I was 8. In fact, the last time I got a flu shot? I bit the nurse. I’m sure that she was also thrilled that I didn’t come back for any more after that.

Initially, I decided I want to do sub-Q injections instead of intramuscular. My research showed that they worked just about the same, and actually could be a little safer. After all, I really don’t want to hit a blood vessel or artery. And when I got everything to do my very first T shot, the plan was to have my friend give it to me. Unfortunately, when I went to her place, I had a panic attack so bad that she had to take me to the emergency room right away.

Needless to say, I did not get my first shot of testosterone that day.

A week or two later, I got some lidocaine (which numbs the skin) and got myself a little drunk (disclaimer: do NOT drink before giving yourself a shot). Then, laid there on my bed, my hands shaking, nervous and tense and panic stricken for about an hour on and off. When I went to put the needle it, it seemed like it took forever to go in, and then it felt funny once I pressed the plunger down.

But after the shot? I felt very proud of myself. And no, it has certainly not been smooth sailing since then.

There have been times recently where I still stared at the needle, nervous, and wanting to cry. I break out in a nervous sweat every time I give myself a shot, still, to this very day. I’ve gotten my girlfriend to give me my shots many times. And I’ve even said to her, “Someday I want to look into pellets, because I’m so beyond tired of giving myself these shots all the time.”

I have, however, long ago gotten to the point where I can give it to myself without numbing the area and without drinking (neither of which I recommend. Don’t do these things!). And I still can’t imagine that I have to stick myself for a needle every week for the rest of my life. But the progress I have made with my transition has made it so completely worth it. And actually doing the shots has gotten easier for the most part.

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