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Body Identity Clinic

Contact: Professor Jan Frystyk, jan.frystyk@rsyd.dk

 

Body Identity Clinic

Department of Endocrinology at Odense University Hospital has just established a research program with the aim of performing research within the field of male sex hormones, the so-called anabolic steroids (AS). Many Danes use anabolic steroids on a daily basis, often without medical prescription. As the illegal use may have many severe health-related issues, we find it pertinent to study how a self-prescribed use of AS impact on quality of life, mental and physical health, hormone balance and aging processes.

The research program will focus on two groups, both using AS to create a body matching their body identity: 1) transgenders, who want to change gender from female to male; and 2) men, who have used anabolic steroids  for doping purposes.
Estimations predict that there are 6000 transgenders in Denmark and the number is increasing. A transgender male is a person born as a woman, who is feeling and identifying herself as a male. The medical treatment of transgender males requires lifelong treatment with anabolic steroids, which are highly effective in creating a body with male features regarding muscles and looks. However, due to lack of specialists and knowledge within the field, the Danish health care system is currently unable to meet the needs of transgender males. Consequently, many transgender males are tempted to start medical hormone treatment (transition) on their own, as it is very easy to obtain anabolic steroids via the internet.

Unfortunately, many fitness athletes are tempted to use anabolic steroids in order to get increased muscle mass. Doping with anabolic steroids began in the 1980’s along with the awakening of the fitness culture and today, use of anabolic steroids is widespread among fitness athletes. It is estimated that 44.000 Danish sportsmen and –women have used anabolic steroids at some point of their lives. Because of the high number, most health professionals will meet patients with health problems caused by an abuse of anabolic steroids.
A long-lasting abuse of anabolic steroids increases the risk of serious health-related side effects, e.g. mental problems during and after the abuse, chronic hormone changes and cardiovascular disease. Among politicians and health professionals there is a growing concern about the abuse of non-prescribed anabolic steroids. The abuse also includes transgender males, who want to accelerate their gender transformation by high dose use of self-prescribed anabolic steroids.

Today, there are only few health care offers to people, who wish to change sex from female to male. The same is true for athletes who have a doping history. In addition, knowledge about the problems in body and mind in these groups is limited in the health care system. As the Danish health care system does not meet current challenges related to use of anabolic steroids, we want to establish a multidisciplinary research clinic, the Body Identity Clinic. The aim of this clinic is to identify problems that users of anabolic steroids are facing. We want to study the consequences of a long-lasting use of anabolic steroids on the following: 1) mental health, quality of life, body image and body identity; 2) physical health and hormone balance; 3) development of cardiovascular illnesses; and finally 4) aging symptoms. Through such studies we expect to document that abusers of anabolic steroids – whether it is transgender men or recreational athletes – need treatment by a multidisciplinary team of specialists. It is our long-term aim that this research program within a few years can pave the way for a highly specialized clinical function at Odense University Hospital. At best, this clinic can provide both treatment of and research on transgenders and athletes, who have been using anabolic steroids.

Publications from Body Identity Clinic, Department of Endocrinology, Odense University Hospital:

Lehmann Christensen L, Glintborg D, Taulbjerg Kristensen T, Diederichsen A, T'Sjoen G, Frystyk J, et al. Masculinising testosterone treatment and effects on preclinical cardiovascular disease, muscle strength and power, aggression, physical fitness and respiratory function in transgender men: protocol for a 10-year, prospective, observational cohort study in Denmark at the Body Identity Clinic (BIC). BMJ Open [Internet]. 2020 2020/12//; 10(12):[e045714 p.]. Available from: http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/33376186 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045714.

Kristensen TT, Christensen LL, Frystyk J, Glintborg D, T'Sjoen G, Roessler KK, et al. Effects of testosterone therapy on constructs related to aggression in transgender men: A systematic review. Horm Behav. 2020:104912.

Last Updated 14.07.2021