Transgender - Fertility Preservation

On this page:

  1. Overview.
  2. Gender Dysphoria.
  3. How Can Flinders Fertility Help?
  4. Born Male Who Transitions To Being Female.
  5. Born Female Who Transitions To Being Male.
  6. Find Out More.

Overview.

Flinders fertility is very supportive of transgender health. Increasing numbers of young people are declaring themselves (coming out) as being transgender. These young people feel very uncomfortable with their sex of rearing from birth and present to health professionals most commonly  in adolescence.

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Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria essentially means that the person suffers emotional distress due to their sex of rearing. They feel uncomfortable with the sex allocated  at their birth.

Young people are assessed by two separate psychiatrists to clarify the  veracity of their situation and plan further treatment.

The most common treatment is supervised by paediatric endocrinologists and involves the prescription of long acting “puberty blockers” such as Luprone. These are a slow release gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue which turns off the pituitary production of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone and Luteinising Hormone. In turn this action suppresses the hormone production of oestrogen from the ovary and testosterone from the testis and therefore reduces or delays the secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair, breast development, menstruation and deepening of the voice. In addition these hormones suppress the production of gametes such as oocytes and spermatozoa thus rendering the young person reversibly infertile.

Once the person becomes 18 years of age, they can commence either testosterone or oestrogen therapy. Prior to 18 they require a court order to achieve this.

These hormones (oestrogen and testosterone)  both have inhibitory effects on reproduction as well. It is possible that this could be a permanent reduction in fertility and certainly the individual patients once they start these hormones are reluctant to cease them.

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How Can Flinders Fertility Help?

Where Flinders fertility comes in is   before the puberty blockers, testosterone or estrogen is commenced.

At this point provided that puberty has already commenced, an egg collection for a born female or a sperm collection for a born male can be performed.

The egg collection is carried out very similarly to an in vitro fertilisation cycle namely controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with follicle stimulating hormone drugs. The egg collection is performed under light anaesthesia and is almost universally well-tolerated.

The sperm collection is performed by masturbation leading to ejaculation into a specimen  jar.

The gametes are then frozen using vitrification and stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. The gametes can be stored for many years.

Generally speaking the egg quality and sperm quality is good unless maturation has not been reached. Sometimes a second collection is required at a later date in these situations.

If the young person has already commenced testosterone or oestrogen therapy, they need to cease these for some time to allow adequate sperm and egg production and this also means that   unpleasantly perceived  symptoms such as menstruation and breast growth may re-occur.

The future remains unknown as this is a relatively new phenomenon and a new service created by Flinders Fertility. We do believe however that it offers a highly valued service to a an important group of people who show tremendous courage in their decision to alter their gender.

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Born Male Who Transitions To Being Female

For the born male who transitions to female, their  stored  sperm can be used with oocytes from a female partner to produce embryos and to have a child through either in vitro fertilisation or intrauterine insemination. For those people born male with a male partner, they may be able to access  an oocyte donor and  have a child through a surrogacy agreement with an additional female recipient. Currently this recipient is not able by law to be the donor of the oocytes.

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Born Female Who Transitions To Being Male

For the born female who transitions to being male their eggs can be utilised in the future if they have a male partner who has sperm. Either the trans gender person or another  female surrogate can carry the baby. If they have a female partner this person can be a recipient of the transgender persons eggs and use donor sperm to fertilise them, thus creating embryos for transfer.

In this way fertility preservation techniques offer wider choice for parenting beyond adoption and fostering.

Flinders fertility is proud to be involved in this work which we believe offers real alternatives for parenting for transgender persons.

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Find Out More

At Flinders Fertility we recognise that a website may not cover all your information requirements.  That's why we offer a number of information options. So, if you want to find out more about sperm donation or our sperm donor program, either:

  • Call on 131 IVF (131 483) to talk to one of our Fertility Specialists.
  • Email us at enquire@flindersfertility.com.au.
  • Seek a referral to Flinders Fertility from your Doctor.

If you require the aid of an interpreter please let us know, as well as any specific regional dialect that you may require.

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