Treatment for Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a mental condition but is not a mental disorder. However, it may be accompanied with severe impairment of social, occupational and other functioning.

There may also be accompanying psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. In these cases treatment and therapy may be needed.

Multidisciplinary treatment

Treatment is a multidisciplinary approach. The team includes a mental health professional trained in gender dysphoria, a neuropsychiatrist, a psychologists, counsellors, behavioral and occupational therapists and an endocrinologist who specializes in hormones.

A urological surgeon who specializes in surgery of the genitals and urinary tract may also be included.

Types of treatment

There are several types of treatment for gender dysphoria, these include psychological intervention, hormone therapy and so forth. (1-5)

Psychological intervention

Psychological intervention may be beneficial in some persons.

Persons with the condition are made to understand and deal with the gender issues.

There may be a need for marital, family and group therapies to allow for a helpful and supportive environment to the person with this condition.

Hormone therapy

This is needed in some patients. Hormone therapy is usually most beneficial in adolescents before their secondary sexual characteristics have developed.

For male-to-female conversions

For male-to-female conversions, original sex characteristics are suppressed using luteinizing hormone–releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists, progesterones (medroxyprogesterone acetate), spironolactone, flutamide, and cyproteronacetate.

The LHRH supresses the release of male hormones.

Ethinyl estradiol (0.1-0.5 mg/d) and conjugated estrogen (7.5-10 mg/d) are the essential female hormones that help promote breasts, increased body fat, widening of the hips, less musculature, less facial and body hair, reduction in size of penis and testes and a feminine body shape.

For female-to-male conversions

For female-to-male conversions testosterone cypionate (200 mg IM every 2 wk), the male hormone, is given.

It leads to increased facial and body hair, enlarged clitoris, reduction in breast size, stoppage of menstruation, increase sexual drive and muscle development.

There may be a slight deepening of the voice and male-pattern of baldnesss.

Hormone therapy and children

According to the Guidelines from the Endocrine Society, children, before they reach puberty should not receive hormone therapy because a diagnosis of transsexualism cannot be made before a child has reached puberty.

The Endocrine Society found that 75-80% of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria before they reached puberty did not have the condition after achievement of puberty.


Pharmacotherapy, or therapy with drugs, is needed in patients with concurrent psychiatric disorders.

Studies have shown that 50-70% of individuals with gender dysphoria may have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or psychosis and may be of histrionic (hysteric), borderline, antisocial or schizoid (schizophrenia like) personalities.

These patients may need therapy for depression (antidepressants), anxiety (anxiolytics) or frank psychosis (antipsychotics).

Education and family counselling

Patient education and family counselling may be needed.

While education and counselling focus on understanding and dealing with gender issues; the family, partners and friends should be explained the potential for harm to themselves.

They are made aware of the steps they can take to cope with unpleasant situations while continuing to provide support.

Prior to surgery

Before surgery is attempted, the persons need to live as their preferred sex for a while. This is called Real life experience or RLE.

Surgery may include mastectomy (removal of the breasts) for women who identify themselves as men.

Cosmetic breast surgery or breast augmentation and feminising facial surgery may be opted for in men who identify themselves as women.

The whole surgery and its preparation may take two to three years in United Kingdom.

Gender confirmation surgery

In females to males

Gender confirmation surgery in females to males includes removal of the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries and construction of a penis using a phalloplasty or a metoidioplasty.

A phalloplasty is done using vaginal tissue and skin from the forearm to create a penis.

A metoidioplasty involves creating a penis from the clitoris that has been enlarged through hormone therapy.

In males to females

Gender confirmation surgery in males to females includes removal of the testes, removal of the penis, and reconstruction of a vagina from the tissues of the penis (vaginoplasty).

The scrotal skin is used to create the labia and vulva to simulate the female genitalia.

The urethra that runs within the penis in males is shortened and made to lie within the newly created vagina.

Problems after surgery

Some of the problems after surgery include isolation from peers, social discrimination and fear and stress of not being accepted in society.

These individuals are protected legally against discrimination.

Other treatments

Other treatments include:

  • Speech therapy to modulate and speak like the identified sex may be useful
  • Behavioral therapy that includes suggestions on ways to dress in preferred gender roles, peer support group therapy etc.

Outcome & prognosis

Psychotherapy alone fails to produce complete and long-term correction of gender dysphoria.

Sometimes gender re-assignment may be needed.

Complications include depression or anxiety, emotional distress, isolation and poor self esteem and rarely suicidal thoughts. (1, 3, 5)

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Ven Vara Ven Vara Oman says:

    i underwent treatment form the age of 15 . But i never told to doctors also my problem . At the age 26 i told the problem and underwent treatment , only i could learn better way of acting like male   but my mind did not change . This acting  reduced my social problem but as i could not marry again social problem started . Now still i manage social and psychological problems . Different shock treatment and medicines for depression has resulted in health issues also

  2. Kathy Williams Kathy Williams United States says:

    What is the 1-5, when talking abut transgender people?

  3. Carson Fujita Turnbull - Mayfield SS (2452) Carson Fujita Turnbull - Mayfield SS (2452) Canada says:
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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