Fertility preservation – storing sperm and eggs for future use – is always a sensitive procedure as the person involved is usually facing some uncertainty in their future, however for transgender individuals the process has additional complexity.
The most common reason for fertility preservation is ahead of a medical procedure that may damage later chances of conceiving naturally, for example chemotherapy for treatment of cancer. Additionally it can be used for social reasons.
Over recent years Bourn Hall’s embryology department has supported multi-disciplinary teams involved in gender reassignment of young adults, where collection and storage of gametes occurs before hormonal or surgical treatment.
Talking at the British Fertility Society Conference, Fertility 2017, Charlotte Taylor, embryologist at Bourn Hall Clinic Colchester, described how she and colleagues had reviewed experiences at the clinic in order to improve the service for transgender patients.
She says: “The greatest challenge we have found is identifying the correct terminology to use during communication, including identifying the correct name or pronoun to use with a particular patient.
“Additionally we found that our patient information and worksheets frequently use pronouns which may lead to confusion or distress for these individuals during treatment.”
Fertility preservation ahead of gender reassignment
The study was retrospective and looked at transgender patient enquiries, gamete collection and storage and treatment. The aim is to create a specific patient pathway that will provide the support required by this group of patients.
Charlotte continues: “There has been an increase in this patient group and the clinic has found that a particular sensitivity in patient management is required along with specific adaptations to our current cryopreservation pathway.”
Based on its experiences the Bourn Hall team recommends that clinics adopt a tailored patient pathway with appropriate consent forms and patient information. Tactful communication is particularly challenging over the telephone where there is considerable opportunity for confusion.
The study recommends that training is required for embryologists to equip them with knowledge and confidence required to provide the best patient care.
Charlotte concludes that there is a clear requirement for further information and education in order for medical staff to meet the needs of transgender persons and this is being addressed as part of the continuing service development at Bourn Hall.
We are delighted that Charlotte was awarded ‘Best Oral Presentation’ at Fertility 2017.
For further information on treatment for same-sex or transgender patients do contact us.