The last thing on most teens’ minds is whether or not they want to have kids someday. But transitioning transgender adolescents are forced to consider whether to preserve their sperm or eggs at a young age.
Whether or not they pursue fertility preservation is influenced by certain key factors, such as their family values, gender dysphoria, the cost of the procedure or not feeling ready to make such an important, lifelong decision at their age, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
The findings shed light on how difficult this choice can be for such young adults (aged 15 to 24), and highlight the need to establish standardized protocols for primary care doctors when counseling transgender patients as they consider sex reassignment.
“As a child psychologist, I’m usually talking to adolescent patients about contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, not, ‘Down the line, do you want to be a parent? And if so, how important to you is a genetic connection to your child?’,” said first author Dr. Diane Chen, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatric psychologist at Lurie Children’s. “It can be difficult for kids who are transitioning in adolescence to have to be thinking about these things. It’s not developmentally typical.”
The study was published April 15 in the journal on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning issues, LGBT Health. It is the first study to use in-depth interviews rather than retrospective chart reviews to explore factors that impact fertility preservation decisions in transgender adolescents and young adults.Friday Letter Submission