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The Long Road to Parenthood: Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy, and Adoption Among US Surgeons

We sought to characterize demographics, costs, and workplace support for surgeons using assisted reproductive technology (ART), adoption, and surrogacy to build their families.
As the surgical workforce diversifies, the needs of surgeons building a family are changing. ART, adoption, and surrogacy may be used with greater frequency among female surgeons who delay childbearing and surgeons in same-sex relationships. Little is known about costs and workplace support for these endeavors.
An electronic survey was distributed to surgeons through surgical societies and social media. Rates of ART use were compared between partners of male surgeons and female surgeons and multivariate analysis used to assess risk factors. Surgeons using ART, adoption, or surrogacy were asked to describe costs and time off work to pursue these options.
Eight hundred and fifty-nine surgeons participated. Compared to male surgeons, female surgeons were more likely to report delaying children due to surgical training (64.9% vs. 43.5%, P < 0.001), have fewer children (1.9 vs. 2.4, p < 0.001), and use ART (25.2% vs. 17.4%, P = 0.035). Compared to non-surgeon partners of male surgeons, female surgeons were older at first pregnancy (33 vs 31 years, P  35 years associated with greater odds of ART use (odds ratio 3.90; 95% confidence interval 2.74-5.55, P $40,000; most took minimal time off work for treatments. Forty-five percent of same-sex couples used adoption or surrogacy. 60% of surgeons using adoption or surrogacy spent >$40,000 and most took minimal paid parental leave.
ART, adoption, or surrogacy is costly and lacks strong workplace support in surgery, disproportionately impacting women and same-sex couples. Equitable and inclusive environments supporting all routes to parenthood ensure recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce. Surgical leaders must enact policies and practices to normalize childbearing as part of an early surgical career, including financial support and equitable parental leave for a growing group of surgeons pursuing ART, surrogacy, or adoption to become parents.

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