Infertility is more prevalent in female physicians than in the U.S. general population. While pregnancy and its potential medical and career development consequences among physicians have been explored in the literature, infertility and its consequences remain understudied and unaddressed. Fertility issues are important for all physicians hoping to start families, including male physicians, transgender physicians, single physicians, and physicians with same-sex partners.
Infertility has numerous physical, emotional, and financial consequences and may have a negative impact on physician well-being. Options to preserve fertility (such as egg, embryo, and sperm cryopreservation) are available, yet physicians may not be aware of or have the financial ability to make use of such resources. Physician reproductive health, including the ability to build a family if and when a physician chooses, is a vital aspect of well-being. The risks and consequences of infertility and the management of fertility should be studied and addressed from policy and advocacy standpoints.
The authors, who have experienced and sought treatment for infertility, bring attention to the challenges around both physician infertility and preservation of fertility. They propose three strategies to address physician infertility: increasing fertility education and awareness starting at the undergraduate medical education level and continuing throughout training and practice; providing insurance coverage for and access to fertility assessment and management; and offering support for those undergoing fertility treatments. The authors believe that implementing these suggestions would make a significant positive impact on trainees and practicing physicians and help build a health care workforce that is healthy and well physically, emotionally, and financially.