When individuals or couples are struggling with infertility or hoping to extend their time to have children, fertility doctors can provide assistance.
These doctors may also perform sterilization operations such as tubal ligations and vasectomies.
Future fertility physicians need to be curious and innovative as the field is changing rapidly; technology changes all the time. They should also be non-judgmental and good listeners.
“We are looking for people who can care for patients during the most vulnerable part of their lives,” says Dr. Gary Frishman, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Rhode. Island.
Below is an educational guide for anyone considering becoming a fertility doctor.
Academic pathways in fertility medicine
An aspiring reproductive medicine doctor must obtain a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree. There are two pipelines in the field of fertility medicine, and which route you take depends on the population you intend to treat.
Medical school graduates should complete residencies in obstetrics and gynecology if they intend to focus on female fertility, and in urology if their goal is to focus on male fertility. Many OB-GYN and urology residencies now include training in transgender medicine.
After residency, a prospective reproductive medicine physician will need to complete a fellowship focused on fertility and infertility issues. Aspiring fertility doctors who complete residencies in OB-GYN generally pursue fellowships in reproductive endocrinology, while those who complete residencies in urology generally pursue fellowships in andrology.
Completing a residency and fellowship in reproductive medicine typically takes at least six years, often seven.
Prospective reproductive physicians must also seek national board certification and a state medical license.
Reasons for training in fertility medicine
Work is abundant in the specialty of reproductive medicine.
Over the past four and a half decades, more than 9 million babies have been born through in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive technologies.
“You have some of the most interesting hormone-related medical issues, and you have some of the most complex and advanced surgeries, and on top of that you have a field that is growing and growing so much,” Frishman says.
Additionally, since the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, many physicians say they have seen more patients seek sterilization.
Some important questions about the human body and public health are directly related to fertility medicine, says Dr. Eve C. Feinberg, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Reproductive Endocrinology Fellowship Program and infertility at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Illinois.
According to Feinberg, the most intriguing puzzles in fertility medicine concern how to stretch women’s biological clocks, potential environmental and nutritional causes of fertility disorders, why IVF sometimes fails, and whether there is a limit. higher age beyond which it is not recommended. for men to conceive children. There are also many ethical debates surrounding the moral limits of gene editing and embryo selection, in addition to practical considerations about the accuracy of genetic testing, she adds.
Facts to Know and Courses to Take for a Career as a Fertility Doctor
Obstetrician-gynecologists and urologists in this field of medicine point out that about half of infertile heterosexual couples struggle to have children in part because of the male’s reproductive health issues, contrary to a common misconception. that women have the overwhelming majority of fertility disorders.
“It’s a shared problem between men and women, and to assume it’s just a female problem is naïve,” says Dr. Larry I. Lipshultz, founder of the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction and former president of the American Society. for reproductive medicine.
According to Lipshultz, chief of the division of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, fertility issues are sometimes an indication of serious undiagnosed health issues that need to be treated.
Dr. Craig Niederberger, head of the department of urology at the University of Illinois – Chicago College of Medicine, suggests that because reproductive medicine is an interdisciplinary field, there are many types of courses that an aspiring physician from fertility might want to take before starting residency and postgraduate training, college and medical school.
Topics worth studying in the premedicine or medical years include biology, genetics, and psychiatry or psychology, Niederberger says.
Anyone who intends to enter the urological half of the fertility medicine profession must complete an elective rotation in urology while in medical school. A rotation or internship in obstetrics and gynecology is usually a required component of the medical school curriculum.
Niederberger advises future reproductive doctors to take non-science courses in college, noting that as a double major in chemistry and drama, he now uses his theater knowledge more frequently than his chemistry know-how since he talks a lot in public.