What is a Fertility Specialist?

A fertility specialist is a highly-trained doctor who specializes in reproductive health and fertility. This type of doctor diagnoses and treats people who have medical conditions that render them infertile, as well as those who have undiagnosed reasons for infertility. For example, a fertility specialist may help a woman to conceive after having one of her ovaries removed or help a couple for whom there are no obvious reasons for infertility. Some fertility specialists also perform sterilization reversal procedures.

Fertility specialists help diagnose infertile individuals or couples. To diagnose a patient, a fertility specialist examines her and takes a thorough medical history, either of which could reveal a health problem capable of causing infertility. If a medical reason exists, a fertility specialist typically helps the patient to begin a treatment plan that may heighten the chances of conception. If there is no obvious medical cause of infertility, the specialist often recommends laboratory tests designed to help diagnose fertility problems.

There are many fertility tests a specialist might recommend. Among them are hormone tests to see whether hormonal changes are at the root of the problem. Some tests involve surgical procedures or ultrasound exams designed to search for blockages and abnormalities in the male or female reproductive system. A specialist may also perform a semen analysis to determine whether a man's sperm count is high enough for fertilization. He may also opt to test a woman's cervical mucus after intercourse in order to determine whether the mucus is making survival and movement difficult for her partner's sperm.

There are many treatments a fertility specialist may use to help an individual or couple who is struggling with fertility problems. Among them are medications to stimulate ovulation or increase sperm production, drugs to balance hormones, and hormonal treatments to encourage pregnancy and prevent miscarriage. There are also some procedures designed to free blockages in reproductive organs. Some fertility specialists may even reverse sterilization so that a couple can conceive. For example, a specialist may perform surgery to reverse a vasectomy, which is an operation that prevents a man from fathering children.

Sometimes fertility treatments do not help a couple or single person to conceive. In such a case, a fertility specialist may offer procedures designed to make conception more likely. For example, a specialist might perform intrauterine insemination, which involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus, or in vitro fertilization, which involves fertilizing an egg and implanting the embryo into the uterus.