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Anxiety, attitudes, and education about fertility among medical students in the United States

BMC Med Educ. 2023 Mar 3;23(1):147. doi: 10.1186/s12909-023-04075-w.


BACKGROUND: As delayed family building is common among physicians, the goal of this study was to evaluate childbearing plans, anxiety related to future fertility, and interest in fertility education among medical students.

METHODS: Using convenience and snowball sampling methods, an electronic REDCap survey was distributed via social media and group messaging applications to medical students enrolled in medical schools across the United States. Answers were collected, and analysis of the descriptive statistics was performed.

RESULTS: The survey was completed by 175 participants, 72% of which were female (assigned at birth). The mean (± SD) age of participants was 24.9 ± 1.9 years. Of all participants, 78.3% desire to have children and 65.1% of these individuals plan to delay childbearing. On average, the planned age of first pregnancy is 31.0 ± 2.3 years. “Lack of time” was the greatest influence on decision regarding timing of childbearing. Of all respondents, 58.9% reported at least some anxiety related to future fertility. When females and males were compared, significantly more females (73.8%) versus males (20.4%) reported worrying about future fertility (p < 0.001). Participants reported that greater knowledge about infertility and potential treatments would help ease fertility related anxiety, and 66.9% of respondents showed interest in learning about how things such as age and lifestyle can impact fertility, preferably through medical curricula, videos, and podcasts.

CONCLUSION: A majority of the medical students in this cohort intend to have children and most plan to delay childbearing. A large percentage of female medical students reported anxiety related to future fertility, but many students showed interest in receiving fertility education. This study highlights an opportunity for medical school educators to incorporate targeted fertility education into their curriculum with the intention of decreasing anxiety and improving future reproductive success.

PMID:36869311 | DOI:10.1186/s12909-023-04075-w

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