This page is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are interested in going on puberty blockers yourself or helping a young person with hormone therapy, please consult with a licensed medical expert. Dr. Mosser of the Gender Confirmation Center is not an endocrinologist and does not prescribe puberty blockers or other forms of hormone therapy. Much of the content on this page was informed by the Mayo Clinic’s informational page on puberty blockers. This page is meant to be an informational resource only.
Often, when trans or gender-diverse children express feelings of gender dysphoria, or when young people describe their gender as different than their assigned sex at birth, going through endogenous puberty (the puberty that would be imposed by their assigned sex) during adolesence can exacerbate feelings of dysphoria, distress, or discomfort.
For these young people, pubertal blockers can help delay puberty until a decision is made about starting hormone replacement therapy.
A note on gender awareness in young people: Studies show that non-transgender children often have an awareness of their gender identity by age 5 or 6, meaning that when a young child comes out as trans or expresses feelings of gender non-conformity, their age alone should not invalidate their associations with their gender identity.
Pubertal (puberty) blockers are classifications of medicines that suppress the body’s production of sex hormones, either estrogen or testosterone. The most common puberty blockers are gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues (referred commonly as GnRH), but other types exist.
The primary function of GnRH analogues and other puberty blockers is to delay the onset of puberty until a young person and their parents or guardians can determine if and when it is right for them to start hormone replacement therapy by taking either estrogen or testosterone. The effects of GnRH analogues are not permanent, meaning that the young person would continue their endogenous puberty if they stopped taking blockers.
For young people assigned male at birth, puberty blockers would suppress the growth of body and facial hair, limit the growth of genitalia, and prevent the voice from getting deeper. For young people assigned female at birth, GnRH analogues and other blockers would limit breast development and delay the process of menstruation.
Young people who want to start blockers must work with an endocrinologist or primary care doctor and a mental health professional, and must have documented proof of gender dysphoria or gender non-conformity that started or worsened at the onset of puberty. Young people under the age of 18 also need the consent of their parents or guardians to start blockers.
For some young people who experience gender dysphoria, suppressing or delaying puberty has the potential to reduce anxiety or depression related to dysphoria and improve overall mental health and wellbeing. Children on puberty blockers should still be seen by a mental health professional to ensure that the regimen continues to be effective and appropriate for the young person.
Read these pieces by the Mayo Clinic and the UCSF Center of Transgender Excellence to learn more about the side effects and complications, treatment time, and other medications needed to help ease gender dysphoria in young people.