Saving Eggs before Blocking Puberty: Why “Transition” If Still Uncertain?

Saving Eggs before Blocking Puberty: Why “Transition” If Still Uncertain? March 19, 2019
Eyes (CC0 Luis Galvez on Unsplash)
Eyes (CC0 Luis Galvez on Unsplash)

A recent report came out about a young woman who thinks she is a man so will be blocking puberty. However, her parents decided to wait until her first period before blocking puberty, and collect her eggs to freeze at that moment. I want to examine this and the moral consequences.

The Details of Freezing Eggs

MedicalXpress summarizes the story of this patient:

You’re a 14-year-old transgender boy who has opted to block normal female puberty before it can begin.

What happens if you and your parents decide to preserve some of your eggs, in case you want to have children later in life?

In this real-life case, doctors were able to retrieve and freeze four viable eggs from the patient, who was born a girl, but identified as male. The findings were published in a report in the Feb. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The process was anything but simple, as hormone blockers being used to halt female puberty clashed with fertility medications used to stimulate egg production. […]

Preservation of fertility is a choice that transgender teens must struggle with as they undergo hormone therapy to align their bodies with their sexual identities.

Doctors are encouraged to bring up the issue as they counsel adolescent transgender patients, [Selma] Witchel said.

“I’m seeing more and more youth with gender dysphoria,” Witchel said. “Most of them are not thinking ahead of the future and they themselves aren’t interested in fertility preservation. Their parents are, but the teenager generally is not.”

Transitioning Makes You Sterile

This whole article implies, but barely states, the reality that most forms of hormonal or surgical gender reassignment render the patient sterile. Transpersons after surgery are always sterile, and others with significant hormones generally are often also sterile. Another expert, Dr. Joshua Safer, admits this in the article, “The current treatment options can put fertility at risk.”

Even with the frozen eggs, if this patient later undergoes a hysterectomy, they will be sterile even with IVF. As Witchel explains above, this is something rarely discussed with young people given hormone treatments such as puberty blockers.

Obviously, these eggs will be for IVF, which adds other issues. I think others have dealt with this sufficiently.

Puberty Ends Gender Dysphoria for Most

Another point often missed by the idea of using puberty-blocking drugs is that the vast majority of kids will no longer be gender dysphoric if allowed to go through puberty. Wylie C. Hembree, MD, explained, “Most children who have gender dysphoria actually lose it. There may be only 10% to 15% whose dysphoria continues throughout childhood and into puberty.”

Allowing puberty is a reliable way for a person to no longer be gender dysphoric (85-90% success for a course of treatment is pretty high). It also requires no drugs. Yet, going through a transition puts the patient needing long-term medicine, whichever direction they later choose to go in. All long-term medications, including puberty blockers and anything used after, have negative side-effects.

On top of all this, puberty blockers are only approved to delay puberty a few years if it comes on far earlier than usual. There are no scientific studies on the long-term consequences of using them to block puberty completely.

Beyond that, I question giving fertility drugs to a young woman for her first period in order to harvest and freeze eggs. I can only imagine what kind of hormonal roller coaster she was on to do that and soon after go on puberty blockers. Most fertility drugs are designed and tested on women well past puberty, not those beginning puberty.

Conclusion

Hopefully, additional issues like this case highlights will help us as a society realize that the problem with prepubescent gender transitions. We don’t need to raise kids according to gender stereotypes but why would we push kids into situations likely requiring lifelong drugs with serious side effects when in the vast majority of cases, letting puberty take its course will resolve the issues? Nonetheless, we should have compassion for those suffering from gender dysphoria. I can only imagine how painful it would be for a person to feel a strong disconnect between their mind and their body. Christian anthropology says were are untied body and soul so naturally there is usually a harmony between the two.

Ultimately, we need to realize the greatness God calls us to, body and soul. There is an ultimate unity in our persons, created in the image and likeness of God.

Note: If you want more articles analyzing the news from a Catholic perspective, please support me on Patreon.


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