A fertility specialist is a medical professional that specializes in diagnosing and treating fertility issues in individuals experiencing difficulty trying to conceive. Typically, visiting a fertility specialist is recommended if you haven't been able to get or stay pregnant after 6–12 months of unprotected sex.
Fertility specialists help couples or individuals determine a cause of infertility and provide the appropriate treatment to help them conceive a child. Fertility specialists are typically gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, or urologists who have undergone specialized training to deal with issues concerning reproductive health.
Reproductive endocrinologists are OB/GYNs who have completed additional training in fertility and hormone health and been board-certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. On the other side, andrologist-urologists specialize in male fertility.
Male fertility urologists or andrologists specialize in issues concerning male fertility, including conditions like enlarged prostate, Peyronie's disease, urinary tract conditions, varicocele, hormonal issues like testosterone deficiency, erectile dysfunction, and cancers of the prostate, kidney, testicles, and bladder. They may also perform procedures like minimally invasive urologic surgery, reconstructive surgery, vasectomy and vasectomy reversal, and sperm retrieval for fertility procedures like IUI or IVF.
A gynecologist is typically the first point of contact for couples who are trying to conceive. They will be able to perform a preliminary fertility evaluation, help patients time their intercourse with ovulation, and diagnose conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease or uterine fibroids.
However, if an individual is under 35 years old and has been trying to conceive for at least one year or over 35 years old and has been trying to conceive for at least six months, they may choose to see a fertility specialist for a deeper evaluation. They may also see a fertility specialist if they’ve experienced multiple miscarriages, if they have an underlying condition like PCOS or endometriosis, or want to explore fertility preservation such as egg or embryo freezing.
Like other physicians, board-certified fertility specialists must complete a four-year bachelor degree followed by medical school to receive an MD (doctor of medicine) degree. In addition to an OB/GYN or urology residency, they must also complete 1–3 years of fellowship training to become a fertility specialist.