If you are one of the 7.3 million Americans dealing with infertility, you’re likely familiar with the anxiety, depression, and self-blame that often accompanies it. The symptoms of infertility aren’t just physical–they’re emotional, too.
That’s why it’s so important to find the best, most qualified fertility specialists to diagnose and treat your fertility problems.
Types of fertility doctors
There are three main types of fertility doctors: Obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs), andrologists, and reproductive endocrinologists.
Obstetrician/gynecologists specialize in the general medical care of women, especially related to pregnancy, childbirth, reproductive organs, breasts and sexual function in women. OB/GYN’s diagnose and treat a wide variety of women’s medical conditions including hormonal imbalances, sexually transmitted infections, and cancers of the reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, cervix, etc).
After medical school, OB/GYN’s go through four years of specialized residency training in areas in women’s health, conception, pregnancy, labor and childbirth, postpartum care, genetics, genetic counseling, prenatal diagnosis. After completing residency, OB/GYN’s may opt to earn their board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
If the physician earns their certification in obstetrics and gynecology, they may also choose to pursue a subspecialty in care of high-risk pregnancies and maternal-fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology (medical care of women’s cancers of the reproductive system), or reproductive endocrinology and infertility (medical care of women with hormonal or infertility problems), and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (medical care of urinary tract dysfunction and disorders).
Andrologists are the male counterpart to obstetrician-gynecologists. That is, they specialize in the general medical care of men, especially related to problems of the male reproductive system, sexual health and functioning, and urological problems that are unique to males. Andrologists diagnose and treat a wide variety of men’s medical conditions including male infertility, hormonal imbalances, sexually transmitted infections, sexual functioning (impotence/erectile dysfunction) and cancers of the reproductive organs (testicles, penis, and prostate).
Andrologists’ education, training, and qualifications
After medical school, andrologists go through four years of specialized residency training in urology, men’s health and male fertility (as well as female urology). After completing this residency, they earn a board certification from the American Board of Urology.
Reproductive endocrinologists are obstetrician-gynecologists with advanced education and professional training in reproductive disorders affecting women, men, and children. Simply put, reproductive endocrinologists are specialists in the medical treatment of both male and female infertility.
Reproductive endocrinologists’ education, training, and qualifications
To become a reproductive endocrinologist, a physician must earn a board certification in obstetrics-gynecology, then complete a two to three year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and a two-year practicum. They are granted certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Should you make an appointment to see a fertility doctor?
According to RESOLVE (the National Infertility Association), anyone who falls under any one or more of the following categories should consult a fertility doctor:
Women who are 35 years old or older; Patients who need microsurgery or treatment for endometriosis or tubal damage; Patients who have a history of three or more miscarriages; Patients who have irregular menstrual cycle with evidence of irregular ovulation and have not responded to clomiphene citrate or serophene; Patients with poor semen analysis showing low count or motility or poor morphology; Women with a previous history of pelvic infection; Couples who are so-called “normal infertiles,” i.e., couples whose basic tests came back normal but who, after two years, have not yet succeeded in conceiving. Couples who are considering assisted reproductive technologies (IVF, GIFT, egg donation, etc).
To find a fertility specialist you should check our directory of infertility centers in the US.