June Physician of the Month: Lawrence Jenkins
Fertility problems and sexual dysfunction are often difficult topics for men to talk about, even with a doctor.
“There’s an embarrassment factor,” says Lawrence Jenkins, MD, MBA, a urologist and the leader of the Men’s Health and Male Fertility Preservation Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
Making these conversations easier and more understandable, and improving the quality of life of the cancer patients (and non-cancer patients) he sees with fertility and sexual issues, is the goal of Jenkins and his growing team of specialists.
“What drives me every day is helping my patients to be happy, to improve their opportunity to have children and to be able to improve the sexual function that their cancer treatment may have impacted,” Jenkins says. “We’re sexual beings, and that’s an important aspect of a good quality of life.”
His commitment to his patients and the success of the Men’s Health and Male Fertility Preservation Program he has built are two of the many reasons Jenkins is the OSUCCC – James Physician of the Month in June.
A change in plans
Jenkins grew up in Buffalo, NY, where his mother, Gertrude, was an X-ray technician.
“That was my first exposure to medicine – going to my mother’s office and meeting the radiologists,” Jenkins says. “I thought I was going to be an interventional radiologist.”
In medical school at the University of Buffalo, Jenkins went through a urology rotation and initially wasn’t interested at all in that area of medicine.
“I thought it was limited, but urology covers all the parts of the body involved in urinating – all the cancers of the penis, testicles, bladder, prostate and kidneys – and then there’s the infertility and sexual dysfunction aspect of it as well,” Jenkins says.
Improving men’s health in the Buckeye State
Jenkins was recruited to Ohio State in 2016 to create and build the Men’s Health and Male Fertility Preservation Program.
“The opportunity to lead a team and to grow a program was what attracted me.”
By the time he arrived in Columbus, Jenkins had earned an MBA with the goal of learning the administrative side of medicine so he could take on leadership positions. He was excited by the opportunity at the OSUCCC – James.
“We’ve been able to put together a great team,” Jenkins says of his group, which includes nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in men’s health and fertility preservation, as well as a sex therapist. “We provide the best possible care, and we do it in a way so that the patients we see will understand what’s going on with their bodies, and we encourage them to take an active role in their treatment."
Research and improved surgical options have led to increased treatments for men with fertility and sexual issues. Some of the many surgical options Jenkins performs include penile implants, surgery to correct curvature of the penis (Peyronie’s Disease), vasectomies and vasectomy reversals, as well as surgical procedures to remove sperm directly from the testicles to use for preservation or IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization).
While he puts in long hours with his patients and team, Jenkins also tries to understand the importance of a proper work-life balance.
“This can be a stressful job, so sometimes I need to get away,” he says.
Traveling and photography are his passions, and he’s been able to combine them on adventures in Spain, Colombia, Japan, South Africa, Portugal and Austria. His dream trip is to Iceland to see and shoot the Northern Lights.
“I feel very fortunate to be at Ohio State and to be surrounded with such great people who inspire me to do even more,” Jenkins says. “The goal is to grow the Men’s Health and Male Fertility Preservation Program and help more people.”