Gender Gap in Reproductive Preservation in Cancer Patients

Men report routine sperm banking; women rarely presented with fertility preserving options

TUESDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- A gender gap exists in the manner in which young adult cancer patients are presented with fertility preservation options, with women reporting fewer discussions of future reproductive choices, according to a study published online May 30 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

In an effort to identify themes regarding perceptions of reproductive choices, Valerie L. Peddie, from the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted interviews and analyzed participant responses in young adults diagnosed with cancer (16 men and 18 women, aged 17 to 49 years).

The researchers found that the primary barriers to pursuing fertility preservation were the urgency of treatment and the manner in which staff conveyed information. In all of the interviews, survival was viewed as paramount, with future fertility secondary. The majority of men stored sperm as "insurance" against future infertility, and sperm banking was viewed as "part and parcel" of oncology care. However, few women were presented with their options, reflecting clinicians' reservations about the experimental nature of egg and ovarian tissue cryopreservation and the need for partner involvement in storage of embryos.

"Significant gaps in the information provided to young women diagnosed with cancer suggest the need for an early appointment with a fertility expert," the authors write. "The findings of this study need to be replicated in a larger more representative population before the results can be used to inform a care pathway in the area of onco-fertility."

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