Fertility Specialists

Fertility specialists, or reproductive endocrinologists (REs), are a subspecialty of OB/GYN that is devoted to treating infertility in both men and women. Some OB/GYNs are able to provide limited infertility treatment to their patients, but they are not always trained in some of the more advanced reproductive technologies that REs are. REs are fertility specialists, highly trained physicians who undergo four to five additional years of education and training beyond the four-year obstetrics and gynecology residency training and board certification required for OB/GYN practice.

When a patient seeks the help of a fertility specialist, it can be an emotional time. For this reason, it’s important for the patient to interview several fertility specialists before selecting one. There are various reasons for infertility. According to one study, 22 percent of all cases in which couples cannot conceive are due to infertility in the woman; 47 percent are attributed to the man; 30 percent are attributed to both the man and woman; and 6 percent of cases are medical mysteries.

What Causes Infertility?  

Infertility can be caused by many things. A fertility specialist can help you narrow down the cause, and if possible treat it.

For a woman, infertility may be caused by:

  • Multiple previous miscarriages
  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • Low body fat
  • Endometriosis or tubal damage
  • Chronic medical conditions or diseases
  • Age

For a man, infertility may be caused by:

  • Low sperm count
  • Undescended testicles
  • Testes exposed to high temperatures
  • History of genital infection or hernia repair
  • Having had mumps after puberty
  • Age

Benefits of Seeing a Fertility Specialist

There are numerous benefits to seeing a fertility specialist:

  • They can administer more complex therapies, such as ovulation induction with FSH
  • They can administer the most appropriate treatments early in the course of therapy
  • They can educate you about fertility
  • They can advise you on lifestyle and diet habits

How Long Should We Try Before Seeing a Fertility Specialist?

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sex, or if the woman is 35 or older, after six months of unprotected sex. If a woman has had two or more spontaneous miscarriages, she should see a fertility specialist. Infertility is said to affect 15 percent of all couples (about 2.4 million people) at some point during their reproductive lives. Before seeking the help of a fertility specialist, you and your partner should also consider other options, such as adoption.

But you don’t necessarily have to adopt a child. There is a new form of infertility treatment known as embryo adoption. If the problem is that the woman is not producing eggs, embryo adoption could be the solution. Embryo adoptions are similar to regular adoptions, except that the couple can experience pregnancy and the birth of their child.

[Page updated September 2015]