A reproductive endocrinologist is a physician who specializes in how a person’s hormone system affects fertility. In other words, it is someone who helps couples who are having a difficult time conceiving a child because of hormonal issues. Reproductive endocrinology is a highly specialized field that demands extensive training and offers hope to families through late-breaking reproductive treatments.
A reproductive endocrinologist first goes through medical school, with a specialized focus on obstetrics and gynecology, the field of women’s health care related to the reproductive system. The doctor goes on for further training in the sub-specialty of reproductive endocrinology. The doctor then passes exams to be certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for both obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
Reproductive endocrinologists usually are members in organizations such as the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. They must be certified to join the society. Maintaining membership in such an organization gives the doctors access to the latest techniques and news about changes in the field.
Someone in this field helps couples who find themselves unable to have children. There are many issues that could be causing this problem. A reproductive endocrinologist addresses causes of the endocrine system, which consists of glands that secrete different hormones into the blood.
Hormones Related to Pregnancy
The reproductive endocrinologist is concerned with hormones related to sexual function and reproduction, such as estrogen and progesterone (produced by the ovaries) and testosterone (produced by the testes). Estrogen and progesterone work together to regulate the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Testosterone is necessary for sperm production and sexual function. Other hormones required for pregnancy include a follicle-stimulating hormone (produced by the pituitary gland). The proper balance of hormones is required for conception, pregnancy and birth.
A reproductive endocrinologist will run a series of tests to check hormone balance and conduct a physical exam. He will diagnose the cause of the infertility. Possibilities include: insufficient hormone or improper balance of hormones, fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, ovarian disorders and other hormone-related problems. He will create and deliver a treatment plan that could include things such as hormone treatment, fertility drug prescriptions, reproductive surgery, intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization.
Finding a Reproductive Endocrinologist
Usually these specialists are not the first doctor a couple would see. They do not usually offer general gynecological or obstetrical services. Instead, once a couple has been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for about a year, the gynecologist will refer the case to a specialist such as a reproductive endocrinologist. These specialists may have their own practice or work out of a fertility center or hospital-supported program.
Although reproductive endocrinologists are primarily consulted for help with fertility issues, they also offer other services. Many help treat other conditions related to reproductive hormones, some of which could cause infertility but also cause other issues unrelated to pregnancy. These conditions include things such as sexual dysfunction, endometriosis, problems with menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome and more.
A reproductive endocrinologist is a valuable resource for couples who are having difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term. Whether conception never takes place or the woman experiences repeated pregnancy loss, a specialist who understands and can treat the specific hormonal cause of the problem can make all the difference.