Fertility and sexual function: A gap in training in pediatric endocrinology

Leena Nahata, Sonja I. Ziniel, Katharine C. Garvey, Richard N. Yu, Laurie E. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Infertility and sexual dysfunction result from many different pediatric conditions and treatments and can profoundly impact quality of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended consulting "fertility specialists" for counseling, but it remains unclear who these specialists are. Our objective was to assess whether pediatric subspecialists who manage hypogonadism and/or genitourinary conditions feel adequately trained to provide fertility and sexual function counseling. An online survey was distributed to members of Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES), Society for Pediatric Urology (SPU), and North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (NASPAG). Providers' comfort in counseling various age groups about fertility and sexual function was assessed via a five-point Likert scale. Providers reported whether they felt adequately trained in these areas. Two hundred and eighty-four surveys were completed by endocrinologists, 124 surveys by urologists, and 41 surveys by gynecologists. Respondents (44% male, 86% Caucasian) represented 39 states and Canada. Seventy-nine percent were at academic centers. Thirty-four percent of providers had been practicing for >20 years. Comfort level was variable and lowest in young males. Ninety-one percent of pediatric endocrinologists reported routinely seeing patients at risk for infertility, but only 36% felt adequately trained in fertility, and 25% felt adequately trained in sexual function. Infertility and sexual dysfunction are often overlooked in pediatric care. Our results suggest that pediatric endocrinologists, who frequently manage male and female hypogonadism, should also receive formal training in these areas. Optimizing counseling would help prevent missed opportunities for fertility preservation and alleviate distress among patients and families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • counseling
  • fertility
  • pediatric endocrinology
  • sexual function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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