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Brendan J Nolan Department of Endocrinology, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Department of Medicine (Austin Health), University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Aviva S Frydman Department of Endocrinology, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Shalem Y Leemaqz College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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Meg Carroll Department of Medicine (Austin Health), University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Mathis Grossmann Department of Endocrinology, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Department of Medicine (Austin Health), University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Jeffrey D Zajac Department of Endocrinology, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Department of Medicine (Austin Health), University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Ada S Cheung Department of Endocrinology, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Department of Medicine (Austin Health), University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Objective

The role of micronised progesterone in hormone regimens for transgender individuals undergoing feminising hormone therapy remains uncertain. We aimed to determine the effect of oral micronised progesterone on sleep quality, psychological distress, and breast development in transgender individuals undergoing feminising hormone therapy.

Design

Prospective case–control study. Twenty-three transgender individuals on stable oestradiol treatment newly commencing 100 mg oral progesterone (n = 23) and controls continuing standard care (n = 19) were assessed over 3 months.

Methods

Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Kessler psychological distress scale (K10), and Tanner stage to assess breast development were assessed at 0 and 3 months. Non-parametric analysis of covariance was used to compare differences between groups.

Results

Compared with controls over 3 months, there was no difference in PSQI (P = 0.35), K10 (P = 0.64), or Tanner stage (P = 0.42). There was no significant difference in the proportion of individuals with clinically significant improvement in PSQI (25% vs 22%, P = 0.84). One individual had a significant deterioration in psychological distress that improved following the cessation of progesterone.

Conclusions

Low-dose progesterone was not associated with changes in sleep quality, psychological distress, or breast development over 3 months follow-up, though there was significant inter-individual variability. Larger, placebo-controlled trials are required to further evaluate different doses of progesterone in feminising hormone therapy regimens.

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Lachlan Angus Department of Medicine (Austin Health), The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Shalem Leemaqz Robinson Research Institute, Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia

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Olivia Ooi Department of Medicine (Austin Health), The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Pauline Cundill Equinox Gender Diverse Clinic, Thorne Harbour Health, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

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Nicholas Silberstein Equinox Gender Diverse Clinic, Thorne Harbour Health, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

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Peter Locke Equinox Gender Diverse Clinic, Thorne Harbour Health, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

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Jeffrey D Zajac Department of Medicine (Austin Health), The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Ada S Cheung Department of Medicine (Austin Health), The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

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Background

Oestradiol with or without an anti-androgen (cyproterone acetate or spironolactone) is commonly prescribed in transfeminine individuals who have not had orchidectomy; however, there is no evidence to guide optimal treatment choice.

Objective

We aimed to compare add-on cyproterone acetate versus spironolactone in lowering endogenous testosterone concentrations in transfeminine individuals.

Design

Retrospective cross-sectional study.

Methods

We analysed 114 transfeminine individuals who had been on oestradiol therapy for >6 months in two gender clinics in Melbourne, Australia. Total testosterone concentrations were compared between three groups; oestradiol alone (n = 21), oestradiol plus cyproterone acetate (n = 21) and oestradiol plus spironolactone (n = 38). Secondary outcomes included serum oestradiol concentration, oestradiol valerate dose, blood pressure, serum potassium, urea and creatinine.

Results

Median age was 27.0 years (22.5–45.1) and median duration of hormone therapy was 1.5 years (0.9–2.6), which was not different between groups. On univariate analysis, the cyproterone group had significantly lower total testosterone concentrations (0.8 nmol/L (0.6–1.20)) compared with the spironolactone group (2.0 nmol/L (0.9–9.4), P = 0.037) and oestradiol alone group (10.5 nmol/L (4.9–17.2), P < 0.001), which remained significant (P = 0.005) after adjustments for oestradiol concentration, dose and age. Serum urea was higher in the spironolactone group compared with the cyproterone group. No differences were observed in total daily oestradiol dose, blood pressure, serum oestradiol, potassium or creatinine.

Conclusions

The cyproterone group achieved serum total testosterone concentrations in the female reference range. As spironolactone may cause feminisation without inhibition of steroidogenesis, it is unclear which anti-androgen is more effective at feminisation. Further prospective studies are required.

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