Puberty Blockers

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.

What are Puberty Blockers?

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.

What Do Pubertal Blockers Do?

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.

How Does Someone Get a Prescription for Puberty Blockers?

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.

What are the Benefits of Pubertal 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.

In Summary

  • Young people experiencing gender dysphoria or expressing gender non-conformity may benefit from puberty blockers like GnRH and others.
  • Children must work with a licensed mental health professional and an endocrinologist or primary care doctor in order to be prescribed puberty blockers.
  • The effects of puberty blockers are not permanent, and are usually accompanied by a hormone replacement therapy regimen.
  • The benefits of puberty blockers include a reduction in gender dysphoria and an overall improvement in mental and social health.