What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist?
The American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has established three subspecialties of Obstetrics and Gynecology. One of those subspecialties is Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. In order to be eligible to sit for these subspecialty boards, a physician who has completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology must take two additional years of university training. During that time, he/she devotes part of his/her time to the clinical assessment of problems of female endocrinology (hormone problems affecting women). This would concern diseases or imbalances of the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, the thyroid and adrenal glands, the breasts, the ovaries and occasionally aberrant (misplaced) hormonal tissue which developed inappropriately during fetal life. In addition, he/she deals with problems of abnormal sexual development such as the various forms of hermaphrodism (e.g. a person who outwardly has the physical appearance of one sex but genetically belongs to the other sex).
Time is also spent evaluating and treating couples with primary infertility (no previous pregnancies) or secondary infertility (previous pregnancy regardless of the outcome). This is done through a variety of tests designed to examine the individual parts of the reproductive tract. Following the isolation of a specific problem, appropriate therapy would be tailored to that particular problem.
Also, during this subspecialty training period, the physician spends part of his/her time doing original laboratory and/or clinical research. At some institutions, resident and medical student teaching is also required. In summary . . . the practicing Reproductive Endocrinologist diagnoses and treats hormonal problems in women as well as assisting childless couples to become pregnant.