Fertility preservation in children and adolescents: current options and considerations

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to outline current pediatric fertility preservation options, and discuss ethical and financial considerations impacting this rapidly expanding field.

Recent findings

With the improvement in treatment of pediatric malignancies and medical conditions that threaten fertility, survival rates are increasing. Therefore, minimizing long-term morbidities such as gonadal damage and infertility is of utmost importance. Impaired fertility not only has a significant negative impact on patient's quality of life; in women, gonadal damage puts patients at risk for premature menopause, and increased risk of cardiac, skeletal, and cognitive issues. Fortunately, fertility preservation options exist for both female and male prepubertal and pubertal patients, and discussion of such options with patients and their families prior to the initiation of therapy and/or before further deterioration of gonadal function is crucial. A multidisciplinary approach to fertility counseling, with attention to the patient's goals and cultural beliefs, is ideal.

Summary

Although several national organizations support integrating a fertility consultation into routine care, fertility preservation is still underutilized. Continued research is needed to understand barriers for patients/families and reduce the number of missed opportunities for fertility preservation.

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