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What to know about puberty blockers

·2 mins

As the National Health Service in England has decided to stop prescribing puberty blockers to minors with gender dysphoria or gender incongruence, there is increasing interest in understanding the impact and significance of these medications. Puberty blockers are artificial hormone analogues that temporarily halt the release of hormones from the ovaries and testes by fooling the brain. This pause in hormone secretion prevents the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Pausing puberty provides adolescents with time to reflect on their gender identity, while also allowing their guardians to consider options before irreversible changes occur. Despite the increasing use of puberty blockers, accessibility to these medications remains a contentious issue due to the politicization of gender-affirming medical care. It is important for parents and guardians to have open conversations with their gender diverse children about their identity and expression and to seek professional guidance when considering the use of puberty blockers. The decision to use puberty blockers should be made in consultation with mental health professionals who specialize in counseling families on this matter. The administration of puberty blockers typically begins at the onset of puberty and can be followed by gender-affirming hormones later in adolescence. The use of puberty blockers may also reduce the need for certain gender-affirming surgeries in the future. The decision by the NHS to stop prescribing puberty blockers is based on a review of the safety and clinical effectiveness of these medications. However, puberty blockers have been used for decades and have proven to be safe and effective in treating various conditions. While there are risks associated with the use of puberty blockers, such as decreased bone density and potential infertility, it is important to consider the potential harms of not using these medications and living in a body that does not align with one’s gender identity. Studies have shown that the majority of individuals who opt for gender-affirming care do not regret their decisions. Ongoing research is being conducted to assess the long-term effects of puberty blockers in transgender youth. Ultimately, the decision to use puberty blockers should be based on reliable information and the individual needs of the child.