Transgender people undergoing gender-affirming hormone therapy might notice some changes in their sexual desire, experts report in a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. However, the situation may only be short-term.
Previous research has suggested that transgender patients experience changes in desire and arousal about three months after starting hormone therapy. But the literature is limited, and studies have not thoroughly addressed psychological and social factors involved with sexuality, the authors said.
The current study involved 766 participants (401 transgender women and 364 transgender men) in Europe. Their average ages were 28 and 22, respectively. All of the participants were on hormone therapy.
Researchers used the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI) Questionnaire to assess dyadic and solitary desire. Higher scores on the SDI indicate higher levels of desire.
Other tools were used to evaluate body image, gender dysphoria, emotional status, hirsutism (body hair growth), menstruation, partnership status, and gender-affirming surgery, if any.
Participants were followed for 36 months.
The authors reported these results:
- For transgender women, SDI scores (total, dyadic, and solitary) decreased during the first three months of hormone therapy. However, at the 36-month time point, their total and dyadic SDI scores were higher than baseline. Their solitary SDI scores were similar to baseline at that point.
- For transgender men, all SDI scores increased during the first three months of hormone therapy and stabilized for the remainder of the study. However, total and dyadic scores were similar to baseline, and solitary scores were higher at 36 months.
A history of gonadectomy (surgical removal of testes or ovaries) and the end of menstrual bleeding were two factors that might have influenced increases in sexual desire, the authors said. In transgender men, higher baseline levels of gender dysphoria was another factor.
The authors noted that gonadectomy usually decreases sexual desire and satisfaction in cisgender patients, but that was not the case with this group of transgender participants.
“It should be noted that gonadectomy in transgender people is often carried out for different reasons compared with cisgender people, which may influence transgender people’s approach toward gonadectomy,” they explained.
The findings may help patients understand what they might expect when they start gender-affirming hormone therapy, the authors added.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Defreyne, Justine, MD, et al.
“Sexual Desire Changes in Transgender Individuals Upon Initiation of Hormone Treatment: Results From the Longitudinal European Network for the Investigation of Gender Incongruence”
(Full-text article in press. Published online: January 30, 2020)