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Oncofertility confab features gender-, sex-diversity workshop
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2017-11-20

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The Oncofertility Consortium hosted its annual conference, "Research and Translational Medicine: Meeting the Needs of Cancer Patients and Survivors," Nov. 14-16 at Prentice Women's Hospital.

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Dr. Teresa Woodruff coined the term "oncofertility" in 2006. In 2006, the Oncofertility Consortium was founded and is, according to its website, "a national, interdisciplinary initiative designed to explore the reproductive future of cancer survivors."

The consortium is composed of oncologists, reproductive endocrinologists, research scientists and participating patients.

Gender and Sex Diversity Fertility Preservation was one of the many workshops featured during the conference.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital's ( Lurie Children's ) Dr. Courtney Finlayson facilitated the workshop's presentations on the topic from medical professionals/researchers across the country. Lurie Children's Division of Adolescent Medicine Behavioral Research Assistant Afiya Sajwani and University of Michigan Medical School Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Molly Moravek, Moffitt Cancer Center Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Megan Sutter, University of Virginia School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Research Coordinator Katherine Boguszewski and Lurie Children's Department of Surgery and Fertility and Hormone Preservation and Restoration Program Research Fellow Dr. Kristine Corkum presented papers on fertility preservation as it relates to transgender and intersex people.

The presenters explained that the research topics were collaborations between themselves and other medical professionals/researchers and they were speaking on behalf of the group that day.

Finlayson noted this is the third year the conference has featured a workshop on gender and sex diversity and since that time it has grown in the number of presenters and attendees. This year's workshop had more than 75 medical providers and researchers in attendance.

Sajwani said the number of transgender adolescents and young adults seeking gender affirming hormones has increased in recent years. The research examined knowledge of fertility ( the ability to have a child ) and fertility preservation—FP ( the process of saving one's eggs or sperm for later use ) among transgender adolescents and young adults. Sajwani noted that young people would benefit from additional education to facilitate informed decision making.

Kolbuck's presentation showed that most of the surveyed pediatric professionals who care for transgender youth discuss the impact of treatment on fertility preservation but referrals to fertility specialists remain low. She noted the barriers to FP could be cost related or availability of resources but this needs further study.

Moravek presented preliminary results of a mouse model used to study fertility in transgender men. The goal, Moravek said, was to examine the effects of testosterone exposure on ovaries to inform future fertility potential and options for fertility preservation.

Sutter's presentation on sexual and reproductive health among transgender and gender expansive youth noted that fertility and reproductive health impacts their quality of life. She said many healthcare providers lack the awareness and knowledge to counsel transgender and gender expansive youth on issues related to reproductive health.

Boguszewski presented a theoretical model of individual, parental and provider factors that may affect fertility-related decisional acceptance versus regret among transgender youth and young adults.

Corkum spoke about efforts to expand FP options for intersex youth at Lurie Children's and Finlayson explained how FP was integrated into the care for an intersex patient. Finlayson said many of these remain experimental, but emerging technology may allow for fertility in those previously thought to be infertile. Thus, it is important to think outside the box and consider FP for all patients who may face infertility.

See oncofertility.northwestern.edu/ for more information .


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