Psychological Support, Puberty Suppression, and Psychosocial Functioning in Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria

J Sex Med. 2015 Nov;12(11):2206-14. doi: 10.1111/jsm.13034. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Introduction: Puberty suppression by gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs (GnRHa) is prescribed to relieve the distress associated with pubertal development in adolescents with gender dysphoria (GD) and thereby to provide space for further exploration. However, there are limited longitudinal studies on puberty suppression outcome in GD. Also, studies on the effects of psychological support on its own on GD adolescents' well-being have not been reported.

Aim: This study aimed to assess GD adolescents' global functioning after psychological support and puberty suppression.

Methods: Two hundred one GD adolescents were included in this study. In a longitudinal design we evaluated adolescents' global functioning every 6 months from the first visit.

Main outcome measures: All adolescents completed the Utrecht Gender Dysphoria Scale (UGDS), a self-report measure of GD-related discomfort. We used the Children's Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) to assess the psychosocial functioning of adolescents.

Results: At baseline, GD adolescents showed poor functioning with a CGAS mean score of 57.7 ± 12.3. GD adolescents' global functioning improved significantly after 6 months of psychological support (CGAS mean score: 60.7 ± 12.5; P < 0.001). Moreover, GD adolescents receiving also puberty suppression had significantly better psychosocial functioning after 12 months of GnRHa (67.4 ± 13.9) compared with when they had received only psychological support (60.9 ± 12.2, P = 0.001).

Conclusion: Psychological support and puberty suppression were both associated with an improved global psychosocial functioning in GD adolescents. Both these interventions may be considered effective in the clinical management of psychosocial functioning difficulties in GD adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescents; Gender Dysphoria; Psychosocial Functioning; Puberty Suppression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adolescent Health Services
  • Counseling
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Gender Dysphoria / physiopathology
  • Gender Dysphoria / psychology
  • Gender Identity
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Puberty / drug effects
  • Puberty / psychology*
  • Sex Reassignment Procedures*
  • Sexual Maturation
  • Transsexualism / drug therapy
  • Transsexualism / psychology*


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone