Do puberty blockers improve mental health? The original Dutch studies claimed this, but attempts to replicate it in the UK failed and found no effect. A new peer-review of UK data shows that up to 34% of young people are actually “worse.”
The original findings of the 2011/2014 Dutch research claimed modest improvement in mental health in minors with gender dysphoria after taking puberty blockers. The actual findings of the study are very limited, but they increase the practice of gender reassignment among young people around the world.
However, the Dutch puberty blocker study could not be replicated in the UK, although it was very similar to the methodology of the original Dutch study. The disappointing results of the UK/Tavistock study have been known clinically for years, but were not published until 2021 after much pressure.
UK study conclusions found “no change in psychological function” with puberty blockers,
A new analysis of the same data shows that puberty blockers are associated with a decrease in psychological function between 15% and 34% of young people. This challenges previous claims that puberty blockers have positive or neutral effects at all. It can also be harmful.
A 2023 UK reanalysis of young people taking puberty blockers found that
Between 37% and 70% experience no reliable change in distress
Between 15% and 34% worsened significantly;
and between 9% and 29% develop reliably. Thus, of the majority, 29% improved and up to 34% worsened.
This new analysis of UK and Tavistock puberty blocker data adds to the worrying growing body of evidence that puberty blockers may not be a benign pause button, but a powerful medical intervention that It has the potential not only to benefit, but also to cause harm.
When the benefits are uncertain and the harms are clear (e.g., harm to fertility) or still uncertain (e.g., brain and bone development), such situations often result in a strong recommendation against as an intervention.
This is another example of why more and more European health authorities are reclassifying puberty blockers as an experimental treatment.. Until we know who benefits and who is harmed, such interventions must be strictly conducted in appropriately designed experimental settings.