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England’s NHS Will No Longer Offer Puberty Blockers

— July 3, 2023

National Health Service will no longer offer puberty blocking drug due to safety concerns.

The National Health Service (NHS) in England has announced that it will no longer routinely offer puberty blockers to children at gender identity clinics. The decision comes after a review of the evidence found that more research is needed into the long-term effects of the drugs.

The NHS said that “outside of a research setting, puberty suppressing hormones should not be routinely commissioned for children and adolescents.”

People under 18 can still be given puberty blockers in exceptional circumstances, the NHS said, and a clinical study on their impact on kids is due to start by next year.

Four new regional clinics are due to open later this year. They will replace London’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), previously the only facility of its kind in England. It is scheduled to shut down after a review said it was overburdened by increasing demand and there was not enough evidence about the outcomes of its treatment.

England's NHS Will No Longer Offer Puberty Blockers
Photo by Alexander Grey from Pexels

Puberty blockers are used to pause the development of puberty in children with gender dysphoria, a condition where a person’s gender identity does not match their biological sex. The drugs are not a cure for gender dysphoria, but they can give children more time to decide whether they want to transition to the opposite sex.

The NHS said that it would still be possible for children to get puberty blockers in exceptional cases, but that this would require approval from a panel of experts. The health service also said that it would be conducting a new research study into the long-term effects of puberty blockers.

Some argue that the reasoning is not unwarranted, as current research around puberty blockers has shown a number of short-term and long-term side effects for children. Some of those side effects include inconveniences such as hot flashes, headaches, and weight gain. However, the drugs have also been known to cause more serious, long-term side effects on things such as growth spurts, bone density, and future fertility.

The decision by the NHS to stop routinely offering puberty blockers is a significant development in the debate about gender-affirming care for children. The decision is likely to be welcomed by some people, who have argued that puberty blockers should not be used without more evidence about their safety and effectiveness.

However, the decision is also likely to be criticized by others, who argue that puberty blockers are a vital treatment for children with gender dysphoria. That’s because children who experience it can use puberty blockers to support their mental and physical health.

I​n fact, though it’s true puberty blockers might cause certain side effects, they have also been known to alleviate depression and anxiety and reduce thoughts or actions related to self-harm.

The issue of puberty blockers is a complex one, and there is no easy answer. The NHS has made a decision based on the evidence available to it, but it is likely that the debate will continue for some time to come. But moving forward, it is important that the debate is conducted in a respectful and informed way, with the best interests of children at heart.


England’s health service says it won’t give puberty blockers to children at gender clinics

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