September is the American Medical Association’s Women in Medicine Month, which aims to highlight advocacy related to women physicians and health issues impacting women patients.
Female physicians & fertility: a tricky timeline
Approximately a quarter of female physicians experience difficulty conceiving when they’re ready to start a family. For comparison, that’s double the incidence of infertility in the general population. Why is that—and what can we do about it?
The path toward completion in many medical fields can be long and intense, without a lot of room for pause. Students and residents rely on matching algorithms to place them into speciality and subspecialty training programs, leaving them without a lot of control over where they end up next. And medical education takes, on average, 7–8 years of full-time—or more than full-time—dedication after undergrad.
This leaves many female physicians who want a family in a difficult position: either put off childbearing until after medical training is complete, or figure out how to fit it, somehow, into a packed schedule of internships, residency programs, fellowships, research projects, and boards (with, hopefully, a hands-on parenting partner and a supportive network of family and friends). That explains why many women in medicine aren’t having their first babies until their mid-30s, when fertility decline begins to steepen and infertility becomes more common.
As Dr. Arghavan Salles, a surgeon who chose to freeze her eggs, writes in Time: “For women studying to be doctors, there are very few convenient times to build a relationship, let alone have a child. Once I got my first real job as a surgeon, after spending my 20s and early 30s in training, I sought several opinions and was told different versions of a similar message: I had waited too long, and my chances of one day having a child with my DNA were pretty low.”
This is echoed Dr. Temeka Zore, writing for Blood + Milk: “I thought I wanted to have kids, but I wasn’t sure when. I spent the better part of my 20s either in a library studying or in a hospital working. I knew I wanted to get through my medical training before having kids, and I knew I wanted to travel.” As a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Zore was very familiar with the statistics associated with trying to conceive later in life, which is why she and her husband chose to freeze embryos.
The importance of choice
We can—and should—change the way that medicine is studied and practiced, to allow for a better work-life balance and more flexibility for medical students, residents, and doctors. This is important not only to women who hope to start a family amidst medical training (and for bringing new women into the medical field), but for everyone in the field.
But it’s likely that, even with positive changes, medicine will remain an intensely focused path of education and training, and many women will still choose to wait to start a family. That’s why we should also be educating female physicians on their own fertility, and offering them the ability to preserve their fertility so that they have more options later in life. Working hand-in-hand with internal efforts to champion women in medicine, fertility preservation (such as egg and embryo freezing) gives women more choices for their futures.
In honor of September’s Women in Medicine Month, we’re offering women in the medical fields a $1,000 discount on egg and embryo freezing cycles, as well as a free fertility assessment and doctor consultation.
Offer terms & conditions: In order to receive this discount, fertility preservation services must be paid for in full by October 31, 2020. Cycle must be completed by July 31, 2021.
Patient is responsible for alerting staff of discount prior to paying. Patients will be asked to provide ID, transcript, or other demonstration that they work or study in the medical field. Discount may not be transferred or combined with other offers. The $1,000 discount is valid for first cycles only; cycles after the first will receive a discount of $500. Limit one discount per patient. Discount does not apply retroactively to any cycles already paid for and/or begun.
Discount may only be used toward egg freezing or embryo freezing service and may not be used toward the following: IVF, genetic testing (PGD/PGS), medications, long-term storage, or lab work. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.
Fertility information sessions for female physicians
We provide free information sessions about female fertility, egg freezing, success rates, costs, and more. Please join us at our next event, or contact us to arrange for us to present to your school or organization.