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What Does a Reproductive Endocrinologist Do?

A reproductive endocrinologist can treat both men and women experiencing sexual dysfunction.
Reproductive endocrinology is a subspecialty of obstetrics and gynecology.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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A reproductive endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in disorders of the reproductive system, including infertility, sexual dysfunction, hormone imbalances during puberty, problems with the menstrual cycle, and menopause. These medical specialists usually obtain training in obstetrics and gynecology, followed by a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI), before taking exams for board certification. Although these doctors train in gynecology, a field which focuses on female medical conditions, reproductive endocrinologists can also treat men.

One of the most common jobs for a reproductive endocrinologist is in fertility treatment. When patients present to their primary care provider with fertility problems, they receive a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist who can conduct testing to see if hormone imbalances are responsible for the infertility. He or she can prescribe medications to address imbalances and increase fertility, helping patients conceive. When patients conceive successfully, the reproductive endocrinologist may be part of the medical team which monitors the pregnancy and supports the patients.

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Reproductive endocrinologists can also be involved in the treatment of people going through puberty, or transsexuals and intersexed individuals seeking assistance with hormone treatment as part of their treatment plan. Girls with heavy periods, men and women with sexual dysfunction, and adults experiencing hormone imbalances related to the reproductive system can also be treated by a reproductive endocrinologist. Treatment options available can include surgery, hormone replacement, and concurrent care with another provider such as an oncologist who may address a reproductive cancer while the endocrinologist provides monitoring and treatment of abnormal hormone levels.

These doctors can work in a hospital or clinic setting, offering a variety of services to their patients. Many infertility clinics employ reproductive endocrinologists so that they will be available as part of patient care teams, and these medical specialists can also work independently. The work includes interpreting test results, performing physical exams, conducting patient interviews, and making referrals to other health care providers ranging from obstetricians to psychologists.

Patients experiencing problems related to the reproductive functions may find a visit to a reproductive endocrinologist informative and helpful. These medical professionals offer a number of specialized services available in their area of medical training, and they also keep up with progress and developments in the field through conferences, trade journals, and other continuing education opportunities. A good reproductive endocrinologist is always happy to tell patients where he or she trained, how long he or she has been practicing, and whether or not he or she holds board certification from a professional organization of reproductive endocrinologists and/or fertility specialists.

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