A child’s struggle to come to terms with their biological gender might be exacerbated by the emotional and physical changes that occur during and just before puberty.
Some transgender and nonbinary adolescents live with these sentiments every day. Unfortunately, puberty can make these sensations even worse. These youngsters could feel like their bodies betray them because the developmental changes they’re experiencing don’t fit with how they identify. It’s irritating and may be somewhat overwhelming.
Fortunately, medical interventions can help eliminate those feelings of frustration and betrayal. One of those interventions comes in the form of prescription medications that are known as puberty blockers.
What Are Puberty Blockers?
Puberty blockers are drugs that prevent puberty by preventing the synthesis of estrogen or testosterone. They can protect transgender children from the consequences of puberty that may conflict with their gender identification.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, or GnRH agonists, are the medical term for this family of drugs. They are FDA-approved to treat precocious puberty. Therefore, they are not suitable for transgender adolescents.
Types of Puberty Blockers
There are two types of puberty blockers: histrelin acetate and leuprolide acetate.
Histrelin acetate is a pliable rod implanted beneath the arm’s skin. It lasts for one year before needing to be replaced. Within the first week of therapy, Histrelin acetate might induce an increase in certain hormones.
As a result, light vaginal bleeding and mammary growth may occur in people who are designated female at birth. However, after four weeks of therapy, patients should find that indicators of puberty have stopped.
The injectable leuprolide acetate puberty blocker is a shot. Varying types of leuprolide acetate have different durations of action. Every 1-4 months, a person will require another shot.
Leuprolide acetate might result in an increase in puberty hormones at first. For 2-4 weeks, a person may experience a rise in puberty symptoms. However, indications of puberty should cease within four weeks of medication.
By the 6th month of medication, the puberty blockers had considerably suppressed puberty.
How Do Pubertal Blockers Work?
For many gender nonconforming teenagers, the physical changes of puberty are a source of great anxiety. Administering GnRH analogue supplements throughout puberty helps inhibit the body’s production of sexually active hormones like testosterone and oestrogen.
Sex hormones influence:
- Primary Sexual Characteristics: The penis, scrotum, and testicles are among the sexual organs present at birth. Ovarian ovaries and vagina are also part of this group.
- Secondary Sexual Characteristics: These include a variety of bodily changes. Breast development and facial hair growth are two examples.
It is known that GnRH analogues inhibit the development of facial and body hair and prevent voice deepening in those born male.
Treatment restricts or prevents breast growth and menstruation in persons who were classified as female at birth.
Benefits of Puberty Blockers
During puberty, your child’s sentiments of dissatisfaction may worsen if they don’t identify with the gender assigned at birth. Distress and anxiety caused by a mismatch between a person’s gender identity and their biological gender are referred to as “gender dysphoria” by clinicians.
There are several advantages to using puberty blockers if your child suffers from gender dysphoria, including the following benefits:
- Lowering depression and anxiety
- Improving overall mental health
- Enhancing social interactions and connections with other kids
- Avoiding self-harm
- No surgery needed to confirm their gender
Reversible puberty blockers exist. Your child’s puberty will not be permanently halted due to taking these drugs. This is not a cure for puberty. Instead, it is a temporary reprieve. For as long as your child is taking them, the symptoms of puberty will be avoided. Their bodies will go through puberty as they were allocated at birth if therapy is stopped.
Puberty Blocker Side Effects
While using puberty blockers, following your doctor’s recommendations and attending all your scheduled checkups are critical. See a doctor right away if you have any concerns or unusual symptoms. The following are the possible adverse effects of puberty blockers:
- Injection site swelling
- Hot flashes
- Increase in weight
Puberty-blocking drugs may have long-term adverse effects on fertility and bone density. In order to keep track of your teen’s height while they are on hormone blockers, your doctor may prescribe yearly bone density testing.
You should be aware that starting a hormone blocker regimen in the early stages of puberty may hinder the growth of the scrotum and penis. Penile inversion vaginoplasty, as well as other gender-confirmation surgeries, are made more difficult by this.
What Is the Cost of Puberty Blockers?
Puberty inhibitors can cost thousands of dollars every year. Without insurance, consumers may pay $4,000-$25,000 per year for puberty blockers, depending on the type.
It is critical to determine whether one’s health insurance covers the cost of puberty blockers. Insurance providers are increasingly covering these drugs. This means puberty blockers may be available to more young individuals.
How To Begin and Where to Begin?
If a young person thinks puberty blockers are the right decision for them, they should consult a healthcare expert before starting medication.
Anyone with health insurance supporting gender-affirming operations can look for a doctor in their network that provides puberty blockers.
Additionally, certain Planned Parenthood locations may provide transsexual services. Those under the age of 18 will require the approval of a parent or caregiver.
If a young person does not feel comfortable discussing booking an appointment with a healthcare practitioner with their parents or caregivers, they can seek guidance from LGBTQIA+-friendly groups.
Puberty blockers are drugs that slow down the bodily changes that occur during puberty. These drugs can assist young transgender persons with gender dysphoria or mental health issues.
Their effects can be reversed. On the other hand, a person who takes puberty blockers may subsequently elect to take additional hormones to produce permanent changes, such as the development of secondary sex traits.
Despite the fact that puberty blockers can be costly, many health insurance companies now cover gender-affirming surgeries. At any point along the way, such persons might seek assistance from various groups.