Introduction: Surgery trainees spend their prime fertility years in training, which leads to delays in childbearing, accompanying infertility challenges, and high-risk pregnancies. Literature report of institutional support for fertility preservation (egg/sperm freezing) and treatment is lacking. The cost is particularly prohibitive while receiving a resident physician salary. This study aimed to assess availability of fertility resources and institutional coverage of fertility services to US General Surgery Residents (GSR) and Breast Fellows.
Methods: We composed and distributed a 26-question survey to GS residency and fellowship program directors nationwide to survey residents and fellows. Summary and descriptive statistics were tabulated, and categorical variables were analyzed using Pearson's chi square test.
Results: A total of 234 US surgical trainees (male n = 75, female n = 155, unreported n = 4) completed the survey. Total of 12 % of trainees reported having been counseled on family planning/fertility treatment during training, and only 5.1% were counseled on fertility preservation. Perceived lack of support from program (p = 0.027) and counseling of fertility preservation (p = 0.009) were significantly associated with female gender. A minority (12.5%) reported having insurance coverage for fertility preservation and 26% had coverage of fertility treatment. In addition, 2.6% respondents pursued fertility preservation while in training and 33% reported they would pursue fertility preservation if it was covered by insurance.
Conclusions: Fertility preservation is rarely discussed in US General Surgery residency programs. The large majority of GSR lacks awareness of insurance coverage of fertility preservation and treatment. Strong efforts are necessary to improve fertility education for GSR and insurance coverage to meet trainee's needs.
Keywords: family planning; fertility; infertility; insurance; oocyte cryopreservation; physician.
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