If you’re a female medical resident, doctor, or medical student and thinking about having children in the immediate or distant future, it may be best to start your family planning as early as possible. Female doctors and med students, some of whom are providing fertility care to patients while trying to plan their own families, are at a higher risk of experiencing complications. A study from 2016 revealed that the prevalence of infertility among doctors was 24%. This is more than double the prevalence of infertility in the general population (about 11%). If you’re a female physician living in California, here are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to fertility/surrogacy.
Several media outlets, including the New York Times, have discussed the issue of fertility/surrogacy among female doctors. A call to action was published in the May 2020 issue of the journal American Medicine urging female physicians to implement several strategies to confront infertility. These strategies include increasing education about fertility at the undergraduate medical school level and continuing this education throughout training and career advancements.
A number of academic studies have also brought this issue to light, including a recent article in JAMA Surgery which reported that 42% of female surgeons experienced pregnancy loss, which is more than the expected pregnancy loss rate for women between the ages of 30 and 40. The article also indicated that very few of these doctors took time off after experiencing pregnancy loss.
Getting to the bottom of the issue
It is still unclear while there are more complications and higher infertility rates among female doctors. More research is necessary to determine whether these fertility/surrogacy issues come from physical stress, physiological issues (poor eating habits, lack of sleep), or delayed family planning.