Intermountain healthcare recently added a presentation video on cross-sex hormone therapy to its YouTube videos under the Project ECHO channel. The presenter, Rixt Luikenaar, said that cross sex testosterone therapy does not cause infertility in women who have started periods. Luikenaar also added, “[W]e don’t know why” PCOS is at a 50% rate in women who undergo the treatment. A main symptom of PCOS is infertility.
Project ECHO stands for “Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes” and is meant to be educational for other health providers in communities without access to direct training. PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a syndrome in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of male sex hormones in the female body.
Luikenaar said, “[T]he rate of PCOS is a lot higher in transmasculine folks versus cisgender people, we think it’s like a 50% versus 10% rate of occurrence and we don’t know why. The studies show it is, but we don’t know why.”
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12 slides later, while addressing giving hormones and puberty blockers to adolcents, Luikenaar said, “If transmasculine people have already started menarche, then at that point your fertility is preserved… Testosterone after you start with somebody that has started periods does not cause infertility.”
Rixt, according to a bio at University of Utah, has “treated over 2500 transgender and gender nonconforming patients with hormone therapy (including children)” and is an active member of the World Professional Association for Transgener Health (WPATH).
According to the standards of care version 8 from WPATH, which Luikenaar cited in the video, the organization “recmmend[s] health care professionals begin pubertal hormone suppression in eligible transgender and gender diverse adolescents after they first exhibit physical changes of puberty (Tanner stage 2).” The Tanner stage 2 is 10-12 years old, according to the presentation.
When showing this slide, Luikenaar said, “We don’t give hormones to kids, obviously, because there is no puberty, there’s nothing that you can block. So you want to wait until people are in Tanner stage 2.”
Other parts of the video detail the side effects of the different cross sex hormones and blockers given to adolescents. Testosterone blockers given to young men can cause depression and are used in medical interventions for treating prostate cancer.
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Luikenaar added, “[P]eople, in general, don’t like to take these testosterone blockers due to some of the side effects. And then also discuss the impact on testosterone blockers on sexuality and fertility.” The blockers negatively impact erections, causing some people to take “sildenafil” which is the generic drug for viagra.
All the parties involved in this story have been contacted for comments and the article will be updated as necessary.
Written by: Thomas Stevenson and Eva Terry
Editor-in-Chief and Contributor at The Cougar Chronicle
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints