Getting To Know The Fertility Team

From nurses and phlebotomists to reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists, there can be quite a few people involved with fertility treatment. Understanding the role of each specialist allows patients to direct any questions or concerns to the appropriate medical professional. Although endocrinologists and embryologists may sound familiar, the day-to-day responsibilities of each profession are quite different.


The role of repro endo

Commonly referred to as a fertility specialitist, a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) is an OB/GYN who has received specialized training in diagnosing and treating infertility. Reproductive endocrinologists specialize in endocrine issues affecting the reproductive system, so hormonal imbalances are a focus of this profession. The RE can assist patients struggling to get pregnant by providing fertility procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and egg freezing. This specialist can also prescribe medication and perform surgeries, such as a tubal ligation reversal, to help with conception.

The path to fellowship

People interested in becoming REs must be ready for lots of school. To become a reproductive endocrinologist, an individual must first complete 4 years of medical school and 4 years of residency to become an OB/GYN. Next, a 3-year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology is undertaken to become an expert in the endocrine system, causes of infertility, and fertility treatment options. A reproductive endocrinologist also has the option to become board certified. This certification helps ensure physicians are up to date with the latest research within the specialty.

Baby’s first babysitter

An embryologist is a medical professional in charge of combining egg and sperm in the lab and watching early embryo growth. If a couple opts for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the embryologist will perform the procedure. This specialist is also involved in conducting preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) on the embryo if desired. Known for having meticulous attention to detail, embryologists will ultimately determine the best embryo to transfer into the woman’s uterus.

Science degree required

Most embryologists obtain a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as biology or biomedical science. Some positions require the individual to have a master’s degree in clinical embryology or a related field, which requires an additional 2 years of study.

The best of both worlds

When a patient decides to proceed with IVF, an endocrinologist and an embryologist will be involved. The reproductive endocrinologist will be the primary doctor overseeing the recommended fertility treatment and embryo transfer. The embryologist is the specialist in charge of monitoring the patient’s embryos in the lab. Both medical professionals work closely together to ensure a woman has maximum chances of success when undergoing IVF to get pregnant.

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