Submitted by Kate Seldman Fri 04/29/2011
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) is a branch of gynecology and obstetrics that specializes in hormones and infertility. Reproductive endocrinologists are also trained to diagnose hormonal problems that don’t have to do with infertility, but most specialists focus on this area. These doctors are also trained in obstetrics and gynecology as well as REI. REI treats infertility in both men and women. 15 percent of all couples in the US deal with fertility issues, and many of those people end up being diagnosed with a reproductive condition. The REI is the first stop for couples who are considering fertility treatments. Some of the problems a reproductive endocrinologist might diagnose include loss of menstrual cycle, or amenorrhea; premature ovarian failure; lack of ovulation; endometriosis; pelvic pain; repeated miscarriages; and failure to conceive. Once the reproductive endocrinologist has pinpointed what he or she believes to be the reason a couple isn’t conceiving, there are several treatment routes he or she will suggest. Many REI facilities offer sperm analysis, to see if the male half of a couple has low sperm count or low motility. They also can examine the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes to see if there is blockage or scarring inhibiting eggs from moving or implanting. These procedures include pelviscopy and hysteroscopy. REI treatments can also include exploratory surgery on the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. If a fallopian tube is blocked or scarred, an REI center’s doctors can go in and repair the tube using microsurgery, improving the chances that an egg can travel down the tube and be fertilized. Reproductive endocrinology also encompasses artificial insemination – intrauterine insemination can bypass problems with the cervix and cervical mucus, and let an egg implant in the uterus, resulting in a successful pregnancy. In vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) are also done at an REI center. These treatments can bypass conception issues and allow a couple to achieve conception.