THURSDAY, June 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- For transsexual people who seek hormonal therapy, a new study offers some welcome news: short-term use of the treatment is safe and effective.
Surgery and hormone therapy are options for transsexual (also called transgender) people who want to change their external appearance in order to match what they feel is their true gender. Hormone therapy involves taking large doses of male or female sex hormones, which has led to concerns about possible health risks.
The study assessed the effects of short-term hormone therapy among 45 transsexual men and 42 transsexual women at four European centers that specialize in such treatment. The female-to-male transsexuals received a form of the male sex hormone testosterone, and the male-to-female transsexuals received treatment to lower their male hormone levels along with a form of the female sex hormone estrogen.
Treatment lasted for 12 months and the researchers monitored patients' blood pressure, waist-to-hip ratio, and percentages of fat and lean tissue mass throughout the study.
The hormone therapy was safe and effective, according to the findings that were to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in San Francisco.
"Although transsexualism remains a rare diagnosis, the number of trans persons seeking hormonal or surgical treatment has drastically increased in recent years, making a detailed multicenter description on the effects of cross-sex hormonal treatment timely," study lead author Dr. Katrien Wierckx, an endocrinologist at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium, said in a society news release.
"Our study gives valuable information about the effects of drastic changes in sex steroids on glucose [blood sugar] and lipid [blood fat] metabolism, cardiovascular and bone health, so that we can inform our future clients, their families and other caregivers more accurately on the desired effects, side effects and adverse events of cross-sex hormonal treatment," she added.
The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association offers health resources for transgender people.