25 August 2010

A Phantom Menstrual Cycle?

You may have heard of the "phantom limb" syndrome.  Sometimes, when people lose limbs (or other body parts) by whatever means, they still feel as if the missing appendage is moving with the rest of the body.  Very often, people who suffer from this condition feel pain and other sensations they may have felt in the missing organ when it was attached to his or her body.  It's common among combat veterans and others who do dangerous, physically demanding labor in which there is a high risk for serious injury.

A post-op trans woman I know has told me she experiences a sort of "phantom penis," in which she feels as if she's having an erection.  From what I've read, other post-op trans women have had a similar sensation.  Some might say that the tensing and pulsing in the muscle and tissues under my clitoris, and the tingling I feel around it, are similar, but I don't feel as if the penis I once had is still there.

However, I do feel something that is perhaps the inverse of a "phantom" organ.  It's odd:  I feel as if my body is responding, not to something that's been lost or removed, but to something I've never had--namely, a menstrual cycle.  

Sometimes I feel as if I've gained or lost ten pounds from one day to the next.  Now, nobody will say that I'm skinny, but at times it seems that I don't have the "muffin top" around my waist.  But, a day or two later, I look like the female version of the Michelin Tire mascot.  

I also notice dramatic changes in the size of my breasts.  At least, they seem to change from one day to the next.  I never wanted to have very large breasts because all of the big-busted women I've known have complained about their "assets."  But I wanted some that were at least noticeable.  

Well, on some days, I feel like Dolly Parton. Yet, a couple of days later, my breasts might seem flatter than my jokes fall during my lectures.  Some might say it's a matter of my perception, but the changes I see don't have any relation to my mood.  I could swear that they really do go from A-- to DD and back within a week.

Could my body really be responding to something that never happened to it?  

Interestingly, Eva and Tammy claimed that I had a "male menstrual cycle."  They--who, as far as I know, never met--both believed that my moods swung through an arc that lasted a month or so. If I was (relatively) happy, they knew that within two weeks or so, I would get into one of those depressions that nothing and nobody could pull me out of.  Other women--and men--I've dated have noticed the same thing, or at least something similar.

Maybe I had a phantom menstrual cycle all along.  According to what some of my female friends and acquaintances have told me, I should be very happy that it's phantom.

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