There are no standards on comprehensive counseling for transgender men on how to preserve their fertility while undergoing gender-affirming medical procedures, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal F&S Reports, lists guidelines that health care providers can follow to effectively counsel transgender men on fertility preservation to help them make informed decisions regarding pelvic surgery and future family-building plans. An estimated 1.4 million adults and 150,000 youth in the United States are transgender.

“Fertility preservation is important to discuss with patients prior to beginning gender-affirming interventions like hysterectomy and removal of ovaries, which result in irreversible infertility,” says Juana Hutchinson-Colas, a coauthor of the study who is director of the division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and co-director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Researchers reviewed six medical databases to determine guidelines for fertility preservation counseling in transgender men and created the following guidelines for health care providers to follow:

  • Offer fertility preservation counseling in an inclusive environment that is welcoming, gender-neutral, and with staff that is trained on the proper use of pronouns. Office spaces should clearly state a nondiscrimination policy and avoid assumptions about a patient’s orientation, name, or pronoun. Providers should be aware of biases that may affect how they offer and deliver fertility counseling.
  • Start fertility preservation counseling before the transition. “Transgender youth and adolescents also should be counseled that the long-term impact of medical treatment on fertility remains unclear,” says Hutchinson-Colas. “They should also be counseled on the effect of puberty suppression medications and the psychosocial implications of treatments. However, fertility preservation options for transgender men can be pursued during any stage of gender transition, even after gender-affirming hormonal therapy has started.”

Read the full article about gender-affirming reproductive care by Patti Verbanas at Futurity.