Trouble Conceiving? Should You See an Infertility Specialist or a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist?
What is it you need from an infertility specialist? Or a fertility specialist. Or a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist.
First of all, what’s the difference? That’s a great place to start when you are having trouble conceiving.
A Fertility Specialist vs. Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist
There are no criteria for a physician to use either the term fertility or infertility specialist. Nor are there any criteria for the usage of the term fertility or infertility doctor. In fact, putting the term fertility or infertility in front of your name doesn’t require any additional training beyond the basics in medical school.
A board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist means something quite specific. It means that the doctor who uses that title has gone through extensive training and also specific testing. Read below for more on what a Reproductive Endocrinologist has studied to give you the best care possible.
A Reproductive Endocrinologist specializes in the following fields of study:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Hypothalamic pituitary dysfunction
- A congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Tubal factor infertility
- Male factor infertility
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Fertility preservation
- Congenital uterine anomalies
- Other disorders of the female reproductive tract
Collectively, this field is called Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Most of the patients seen by Reproductive Endocrinologists are experiencing fertility related problems.
What is Reproductive Endocrinology?
Reproductive Endocrinology is a sub-specialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This requires 4 years of medical school followed by completion of a 4 year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Training includes:
- Medical and surgical treatment of disorders of the female reproductive tract
- Care of pregnant women
- Delivering babies
After completing a residency program, a physician would apply through a highly competitive system to receive additional training in Reproductive Endocrinology. This is referred to as a fellowship and includes a 3 year intensive training program, which focuses on understanding the complexities of the human female reproductive system.
At the end of all this training, specifically to treat fertility and infertility, Reproductive Endocrinologists can receive board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. To achieve this certification requires both written and oral examinations that often take over a year to study for.
Please do keep in mind that not every physician that calls themselves fertility or infertility specialists has undergone this rigorous training and testing.
Is My Physician a Reproductive Endocrinologist?
To find out if the physician(s) that you are considering has this type of training, SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology) keeps careful records which are independently verified, complete with onsite visits to each fertility program. Click here to see each fertility practice that reports to SART. (Note, if you do not see the fertility practice that you are considering on the SART website, your first question to that practice should be why. And then seriously consider a fertility program that does align itself with the SART guidelines and reporting practices.)
More next week on what is needed when seeing a fertility specialist. Or as we now know, a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist.
Questions? Answers? Suggestions?
We welcome them all.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.