What is Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility?
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility is a subspecialty of OB/GYN that deals specifically with human reproduction: getting and staying pregnant. There are many disorders that can interfere with this process, causing infertility. Reproductive endocrinologists help their patients conceive and have healthy babies.
Infertility is technically diagnosed if a couple has not had a successful pregnancy after one year of unprotected sex. Patients with known fertility issues may be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist before the one year mark. Infertility is more common than you might think, affecting approximately 15% of both men and women in the United States. Many reproductive endocrinologists provide care for men in their practice, although some refer men’s infertility care to associated urologists.
A wide variety of issues can cause fertility problems, from age to hormonal imbalances to structural disorders. Some of the disorders seen and services provided by a reproductive endocrinologist include:
Infertility evaluation and treatment, including IVF
Fertility preservation, or freezing eggs, sperm, and embryos
Donor eggs, sperm or embryos
Uterine structure anomalies
Reproductive surgeries, such as tubal ligation reversals and removal of fibroids
There have been incredible advances in the past few years in treatments for infertility. A reproductive endocrinologist is a highly skilled physician who can help patients toward a successful pregnancy.
What is General Obstetrics & Gynecology?
General obstetrician/gynecologists, or general OB/GYNs, are providers of routine care for women’s reproductive health. They offer regular checkups and preventative care to detect illnesses early and keep women healthy. A general OB/GYN cares for a variety of health issues, including:
Sexually transmitted diseases
Annual breast exams
After the age of 18, it is important to see a general OB/GYN regularly for preventative care as well as any needed pregnancy care. When necessary, general OB/GYNs may refer their patients to related specialists such as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist or Reproductive Endocrinologist. However, women without complicated health issues may continue to see their general OB/GYN for care throughout their reproductive life.
What is Adolescent Medicine?
Adolescent medicine specialists are doctors who have specific training and experience in issues that affect teenagers. Their patients may range in age from pre-teens to young adults in their early twenties. Adolescent medicine contains elements of both pediatric medicine and adult (internal) medicine. For example, just like in a pediatrician’s office, an adolescent medicine doctor might ask about problems at school or diagnose a learning disorder. Like an adult’s doctor, an adolescent medicine specialist may provide gynecological care such as pelvic exams. Furthermore, in many offices a teenage patient can schedule and attend appointments without a parent present. Adolescent medicine is a great way for teens to confidently take on greater responsibility for their health as they become adults.
Adolescent medicine specialists treat minor injuries and illnesses that affect people of all ages, such as strep throat or broken bones. However, their focus is on issues specific to the teenage years, including:
Puberty and growth
Teen sexuality, including sexual orientation, sexual violence, and birth control
Mood disorders and mental health
Bullying, peer pressure, and abuse at home or school
Depending on where you live, it may be hard to find adolescent medicine specialists, especially in a smaller town. While they specialize in providing care for teens, other kinds of doctors such as pediatricians and family practitioners can also treat young people. If you need help finding a doctor, your school nurse should be able to connect you with a physician in your area that knows about teenagers.
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