Reproductive health is an important yet often overlooked topic in pediatric health care; when addressed, the focus is generally on prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. Two aspects of reproductive health counseling that have received minimal attention in pediatrics are fertility and sexual function for at-risk pediatric populations, and youth across many disciplines are affected. Although professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, have published recommendations about fertility preservation discussions, none of these guidelines address how to have ongoing conversations with at-risk youth and their families about the potential for future infertility and sexual dysfunction in developmentally appropriate ways. Researchers suggest many pediatric patients at risk for reproductive problems remain uncertain and confused about their fertility or sexual function status well into young adulthood. Potential infertility may cause distress and anxiety, has been shown to affect formation of romantic relationships, and may lead to unplanned pregnancy in those who incorrectly assumed they were infertile. Sexual dysfunction is also common and may lead to problems with intimacy and self-esteem; survivors of pediatric conditions consistently report inadequate guidance from clinicians in this area. Health care providers and parents report challenges in knowing how and when to discuss these issues. In this context, the goal of this clinical report is to review evidence and considerations for providers related to information sharing about impaired fertility and sexual function in pediatric patients attributable to congenital and acquired conditions or treatments.
- Copyright © 2018 by the American Academy of Pediatrics