The Effects of Testosterone on the Brain of Transgender Men

Androg Clin Res Ther. 2021 Dec 23;2(1):252-260. doi: 10.1089/andro.2021.0008. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Transgender men (TM) experience an incongruence between the female sex assigned when they were born and their self-perceived male identity. Some TM seek for a gender affirming hormone treatment (GAHT) to induce a somatic transition from female to male through continuous administration of testosterone. GAHT seems to be relatively safe. However, testosterone produces structural changes in the brain as detected by quantitative magnetic resonance imaging. Mainly, it induces an increase in cortical volume and thickness and subcortical structural volume probably due to the anabolic effects. Animal models, specifically developed to test the anabolic hypothesis, suggest that testosterone and estradiol, its aromatized metabolite, participate in the control of astrocyte water trafficking, thereby controlling brain volume.

Keywords: MRI; androgenic anabolic steroids; astrocytes; glutamine; testosterone; transgender men.

Publication types

  • Review