A new study finds that fertility preservation is a major factor for only a minority of transgender teens and their parents in deciding to delay hormone therapy.
Fertility preservation is a critical issue for health care workers to discuss with transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families before undergoing hormone therapy. Still, little is known about the feelings of most transgender teens and their parents toward fertility preservation.
For the study, the authors surveyed 66 youth and 52 parents of youth receiving gender-affirming medical care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic. The average age of young people participating in the study was 16, and the majority (63 percent) of the participants had been assigned female sex at birth.
Participants answered 36 questions regarding their knowledge of fertility preservation, their desire to have biological children and other factors that may influence the decision to pursue fertility preservation.
“While hormone therapy has drastically improved the lives of countless transgender and gender non-conforming youth, its impact on fertility can unfairly force individuals to decide at a very early age whether or not they should preserve the ability to be a biological parent one day,” said Rebecca Persky, M.D., former Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia resident, and lead author on the study. She is currently a pediatric endocrinology fellow at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.
“These are difficult conversations for physicians to have with youth and families, and we hope our findings on how adolescents and parents approach these decisions will ultimately help providers counsel patients on hormone therapy with their fertility desires in mind.”
The findings show that the majority of youth and parents were not willing to delay therapy to preserve biologic fertility; however, parents were significantly more likely to be willing to delay treatment and cited wanting more information as a major factor.
In the U.S. population, it is estimated that 1.4 million adults (0.6 percent) and 150,000 youth (0.7 percent) ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender. Of individuals ages 13 and older who identify as transgender in the U.S., 10 percent are youth (13 to 17), 13 percent are young adults (18 to 24), 63 percent are ages 25 to 64, and 14 percent are ages 65 and older, according to a 2017 study by The Williams Institute at the University of California of Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law.
The new study findings were recently presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2018 Meeting in Toronto.
Source: Pediatric Academic Societies