Brain chemistry of people who undergo sex change is also altered

By @vitthernandez on
A reveller dances while taking part in a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) pride parade to mark Gaijatra Festival, also known as the festival of cows, in Kathmandu, Nepal, August 30, 2015. Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

People who undergo gender reassignment procedure also undergo hormone replacement therapy. The therapy does not just change the physical appearance of the patient, it also results in alteration in the patient’s brain chemistry.

After going through hormonal reassignment, the transgender man or woman would develop secondary sexual characteristics of the male or female body which reflects the patient’s desired gender identity, says a study by researchers at the University of Vienna, reports Healthnewsline.

If the patient is a female who wants to be a male, after hormonal treatment, there would be body hair growth, male voice muscle mass and menstruation stops. If it is the other way around, it results in formation of breasts and elimination of body hair growth.

The scientists, led by senior authors Dr Siegfred Kasper and Dr Ruben Lanzenberger, studied transgendered people’s brain activities and found that brain levels of serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) – which is a brain protein the chemical messenger serotonin transports into nerve cells and has a vital role in treating mood and anxiety disorders – were aggravated when the gender shift is from female the male.

But when it is male to female, there was decreased level of SERT in the brain for patients administered the female hormone estrogen.

The findings of the study, published in Biological Psychiatry, shows that transgender men have lower risk for mood and anxiety disorders as a result of the change in their brain chemistry, while it is the opposite for transgender women. Biological Psychiatry editor Dr John Krystal says the research provides “new insights into the ways that the hormonal differences between men and women influence mood and the risk for mood disorders.”

Psychiatry Advisor adds that the study tried to evaluate depression for people who undergo gender reassignment surgery.

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