Fertility Navigators Support Important Consultations in Pediatric Settings

Fertility Navigators Support Important Consultations in Pediatric Settings 150 150 Mary Bates, PhD

At Nationwide Children’s, hiring a full-time fertility navigator increased access to fertility care among pediatric patients.

With advances in chemotherapy and radiation, more children are surviving cancer and entering adulthood. However, a potential consequence of such treatments is fertility impairment, which can affect about 15% of female and 50% of male childhood cancer survivors.

Although fertility preservation options are available for both males and females, utilization of these methods in pediatric settings is inconsistent.

The fertility program at Nationwide Children’s was established in 2015. In 2016, fertility consultation became an optout service following a new cancer diagnosis or before hematopoietic stem cell transplant. In 2018, Nationwide Children’s hired a full-time fertility navigator, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner with a background in oncology and training in oncofertility.

Studio portrait of Dr. Leena Nahata

Leena Nahata, MD

“The fertility navigator has a lot of important roles, including counseling, risk assessments, interpreting test results, making referrals and coordinating fertility preservation procedures,” says Leena Nahata, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and the founder and medical director of the Fertility and Reproductive Health Program at Nationwide Children’s.

Dr. Nahata, with Anthony Audino, MD, and other colleagues, recently examined how hiring a full-time fertility navigator impacted fertility care at Nationwide Children’s. The retrospective review was led by pediatric resident Mariah Wright, MD and compared patients who received a fertility consult in equivalent 18-month periods before and after the hiring of the fertility navigator.

Overall, the team found that the number of fertility consults increased by more than threefold after hiring a fertility navigator, especially among females and long-term follow-up cancer patients. While fertility preservation and testing rates remained unchanged pre- versus post-navigator, referrals to fertility specialists increased significantly post-navigator.

Dr. Nahata, who is also an associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, says that having a full-time fertility navigator is helping Nationwide Children’s expand access to fertility care to more patients.

“We’re learning more about new populations that might be at risk for future infertility all the time,” she says. This includes sickle cell patients as well as some rheumatology patients treated with drugs similar to cancer treatments.

“The bottom line is that reproductive health is an important aspect of care,” says Dr. Nahata.

“As survival rates continue to improve for various disease populations, we have to be more forward-thinking and consider what will impact overall well-being and quality of life for our patients beyond their care in pediatrics. Offering comprehensive fertility and reproductive health care is an important aspect of optimizing quality of life for emerging adults and young adults.”



Wright ML, Theroux CI, Olsavsky AL, DaJusta D, McCracken KA, Hansen-Moore J, Yeager ND, Whiteside S, Audino AN, Nahata L. The impact of hiring a full-time fertility navigator on fertility-related care and fertility preservation at a pediatric institution. Pediatric Blood Cancer. 2022 Jun 22:e29857. doi: 10.1002/pbc.29857.

About the author

Mary a freelance science writer and blogger based in Boston. Her favorite topics include biology, psychology, neuroscience, ecology, and animal behavior. She has a BA in Biology-Psychology with a minor in English from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, and a PhD from Brown University, where she researched bat echolocation and bullfrog chorusing.