The Unknown Champion Of Infertility
Infertility has a clear definition. Anyone unable to get pregnant after 6-12 months of trying is considered infertile. But an infertility diagnosis does not happen without the say of a reproductive endocrinologist. On the journey to overcome infertility, a reproductive endocrinologist will be the central part of the medical team. So who is this person? And what role does a reproductive endocrinologist play?
Your infertility expert
A reproductive endocrinologist sounds like quite a mouthful. However, this doctor plays a critical role in changing the fortunes of someone’s infertility. Often called an RE, reproductive endocrinologists are OB/GYN doctors with additional training in conditions that affect fertility. In fact, these are the doctors approved to perform reproductive treatments like IVF and egg freezing. This doctor has a deep understanding of any condition that’s causing infertility and can perform the necessary procedures.
OB/GYN vs reproductive endocrinologist
What separates a reproductive endocrinologist from an OB/GYN? An RE goes through 3 further years of training. From there, the RE becomes board-certified with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. That means the reproductive endocrinologist can diagnose and treat female and male factor infertility. An OB/GYN will have a general idea of fertility and can recommend an RE. An OB/GYN forms part of the infertility team by providing pregnancy care and delivering the baby.
What conditions does your RE treat?
An RE treats female fertility problems like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, and any issues with the ovaries. Men with fertility problems will also visit an RE. An RE can diagnose and treat low sperm count, reproductive organ problems, and erectile dysfunction. The RE can also get to the root of miscarriages, secondary infertility, and menstrual disorders. If there are no treatments available, the doctor can move on to IUI, IVF, GIFT, and surrogacy.
Who should see a reproductive endocrinologist?
Women struggling to conceive should first see an OB/GYN. An OB/GYN can do preliminary checks and then refer the patient to an RE. An RE will see a patient if:
- The patient is over 35 and struggling to conceive.
- The OB/GYN suspects a reproductive condition is preventing pregnancy.
- There is secondary infertility.
Men can also visit an RE if there is no sign of pregnancy after 12 or more months of trying naturally.
Other members of your infertility team
An RE will suggest assisted reproductive techniques, or ART, often in the form of IVF. Once both parties agree, the RE will begin the process, along with the fertility clinic. The RE will prescribe hormone medication, monitor reproductive health, extract eggs, and perform embryo transfers. An embryologist will be in the fertility lab. This expert takes the egg and sperm samples to create the embryo. Embryologists perform ICSI, egg, and embryo freezing. Along the way, nurses, administrators, and support staff will make sure the IVF journey is a smooth and successful one.