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Ovarian Cysts and the Importance of Gender-Affirming Care

Introduction

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop within or on the surface of the ovaries. These cysts can vary in size, shape, and composition. Ovarian cysts are categorized into different types, with the most common types being functional cysts and dermoid cysts.

  • Functional Cysts: Functional cysts are the most common type and often result from the normal menstrual cycle. These cysts include follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts. They typically resolve on their own without treatment.
  • Dermoid Cysts: Dermoid cysts are benign growths that can contain tissues like hair, skin, and even teeth. They are typically present from birth but may not become symptomatic until later in life.
  • Other Types: There are other less common types of ovarian cysts, including endometriomas, cystadenomas, and polycystic ovaries (associated with polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS).

Ovarian Cysts and Gender-Affirming Care

The effects of gender-affirming hormones on ovarian cysts can vary depending on the individual, the specific hormone regimen, and other factors. Gender-affirming hormones typically include hormone therapy such as testosterone and blockers for transgender individuals seeking to align their secondary sexual characteristics with their gender identity. These hormones can impact ovarian function and the development of ovarian cysts in the following ways:

  • Ovarian Function: Testosterone is a primary component of many gender-affirming hormone regimens for transgender men. Testosterone can reduce the stimulation of the ovaries, leading to a decrease in ovarian activity. As a result, the risk of developing functional ovarian cysts may be lowered.
  • Individual Variability: It’s important to recognise that the effects of hormone therapy can vary widely among individuals. Some transgender individuals may experience changes in ovarian function and cyst development, while others may not. Regular medical monitoring and discussions with healthcare providers are essential to tailor hormone therapy to individual needs and minimise potential risks.

Gender-affirming hormones can have complex effects on ovarian function and cyst development. While some individuals may experience changes in ovarian activity and a potential decrease in the risk of functional cysts, others may not see significant differences. Close supervision ensures that hormone therapy aligns with individual health goals and minimises any risks associated with ovarian cysts.

Conclusion

Ovarian cysts are a medical condition that can affect individuals of all genders, but are not a barrier to receiving care. The provision of gender-affirming care is essential to ensure that everyone, regardless of their gender identity, receives appropriate and respectful healthcare. Healthcare providers must adopt inclusive practices, avoid gendered language, and provide equitable access to care for all individuals with ovarian cysts. By doing so, we can promote a more inclusive and compassionate healthcare system that respects and supports diverse gender identities.

Updated on January 31, 2024

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