SPEDM: The role of the endocrinologist in transgender medicine

Posted March16, 2022

The coordinator-general at INCT Hormona, Dr. Poli Mara Spritzer, was one of the renowned speakers presenting at the Portuguese Congress of Endocrinology – 73rd Annual Meeting and represented the Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Her presentation was titled “Transgender medicine: the role of the endocrinologist.”

Dr. Spritzer says this is a highly relevant topic because the endocrine approach to transgender condition is still a recent medical practice with about 50 years of history and has developed mostly in Europe compared to other continents. The professor introduced the topic by addressing the history of knowledge construction in transgender endocrinology, including the first publications (case reports), observational studies, and the first clinical practice guidelines, in addition to medical and legal aspects. Dr. Spritzer also commented on the validation of medical and educational methods to transfer this knowledge to young endocrinologists and frontline physicians who are treating patients in primary and secondary care facilities.

“The role of the endocrinologist is fundamental within the multidisciplinary team that supports the health care of transgender people, since hormones contrary to those normally used in men and women are given to patients,” she explains. “This is because these individuals, who identify as the gender opposite to that of their birth, need to adapt their bodies to the appearance of the desired gender,” she comments. According to the researcher, patients undergo a multistep, long-term treatment that needs to be constantly evaluated for dose adjustment. “The support of mental health professionals is very important throughout the process,” she says.

Additionally, Dr. Spritzer noted that, since 2018, transgender condition is no longer part of the group of mental illnesses and has been moved into the  “Conditions related to sexual health” chapter. “For people to be able to receive hormonal and/or surgical treatment, and to reduce their suffering from gender incongruence, a code relative to the categorization of diseases, determined by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), is necessary,” she explains. “This was one of the great advances made by the World Health Organization in this revision of the ICD,” she concludes.

The Congress was held from February 3 to 6, 2022, at the Algarve Congress Center, in Portugal. This international event is promoted by the Portuguese Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism (Sociedade Portuguesa de Endocrinologia, Diabetes e Metabolismo, SPEDM).