Introduction: Several steps in the transitioning process may affect sexual desire in transgender people. This is often underexposed by those providing gender-affirming care.
Aim: To prospectively assess sexual desire during the first 3 years of hormonal therapy (HT) in transgender people.
Methods: This prospective cohort study was part of the European Network for the Investigation of Gender Incongruence. At baseline, different psychological questionnaires were administered. Sex steroids were measured at each follow-up visit. Data were analyzed cross-sectionally and prospectively.
Main outcome measure: Prospective analysis of total, dyadic (with another person), and solitary (with oneself) sexual desire in 766 participants (401 transgender women [TW], 364 transgender men [TM]) was carried out using the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI) questionnaire during a 3-year follow-up period, starting at the initiation of HT. Other factors associated with prospective changes were assessed.
Results: In TW, total, dyadic, and solitary SDI scores decreased during the first 3 months of HT. However, after 36 months, total and dyadic SDI scores were higher than baseline scores. Solitary scores after 36 months were comparable with baseline scores. In TM, total, dyadic, and solitary SDI scores increased over the first 3 months, remaining stable thereafter. However, total and dyadic SDI scores after 36 months were comparable with baseline scores, whereas solitary scores remained higher than baseline. Factors associated with a prospective increase in SDI scores included having undergone gonadectomy, no longer experiencing menstrual bleeding or higher gender dysphoria levels at baseline (in TM only).
Clinical implications: This study offers clear data on the time course of sexual desire after starting HT and thereby helps to inform people who want to start HT. Transgender people can be informed that changes in sexual desire after initiating HT are temporary. Over a longer period of time, the current research does not suggest induction of hypoactive sexual disorder in TW or long-term increased sexual desire in TM.
Strength & limitations: Strengths include the prospective design of this large multicentric study, the well-defined cohort, controlling for HT, sex steroids, and other factors. Limitations include performing a data lock, the absence of an objective measure of sexual desire, and the timing of laboratory measurements.
Conclusion: Gender-affirming HT only induces short-term changes in sexual desire in transgender people. Over a longer period of time, a net increase in dyadic sexual desire in TW receiving feminizing HT and sexual desire scores comparable with baseline in TM receiving virilizing HT, were observed. Defreyne J, Elaut E, Kreukels B, 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 Study. J Sex Med 2020;17:812-825.
Keywords: Antiandrogen Therapy; Estrogens; Gender-Affirming Hormones; Sexual Desire; Testosterone; Transgender.
Copyright © 2019 International Society for Sexual Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.