Effects of sex steroid deprivation/administration on hair growth and skin sebum production in transsexual males and females

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Aug;85(8):2913-21. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.8.6710.


To investigate androgen effects on the skin pilosebaceous unit, we studied 21 male-to-female transsexuals and 17 female-to-male transsexuals receiving cross-sex hormones. At baseline and after 4, 8, and 12 months, hair growth was evaluated by the Ferriman-Gallwey score; acne by the Leeds classification; hair growth rate, density, and shaft diameter by image analysis; and sebum production by Sebutape. In males, estrogens and antiandrogens reduced plasma testosterone to below 1.0 nmol/L. Though all parameters of hair growth and sebum production declined, facial hair growth continued. After 4 months, the decrease in shaft diameter had reached its maximum and seemed inversely associated with changes in hair growth length and density. In females, testosterone increased hair growth rate and sebum production. After 12 months, hairs on the cheek and abdomen had not yet reached diameters found in males. 5alpha-Androstane-3alpha,17beta-diol glucuronide levels were only weakly associated with hair growth and sebum production. In conclusion, administration of estrogens and antiandrogens affects length and diameter of hairs at different rates. In the virtual absence of androgens, hair growth continues but at a slower rate. In women, after 12 months of androgen administration, hair diameters have not reached values of adult men.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris
  • Adult
  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Androgens / blood
  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Hair / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Sebum / drug effects
  • Sebum / metabolism*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin Temperature / drug effects
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Transsexualism / physiopathology*


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone