This post was most recently updated on May 16th, 2023
One question that couples actively trying to conceive may ask is whether they need a gynecologist or a fertility specialist. You should be able to distinguish the differences between these two medical specialties. The main reason behind it is to make a well-informed decision on which medical service is best for you and your partner.
We will discuss the main difference between a gynecologist and a fertility specialist. Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
What Is a Gynecologist?
A gynecologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the female reproductive system. They treat conditions related to the uterus, ovaries, cervix, and vagina. A gynecologist’s diagnosis and treatments can lead to early detection and improved overall health, combating many potential diseases before they become more serious.
What Can a Gynecologist Treat?
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the uterus. They can cause pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. While fibroids usually aren’t life threatening, they can be painful and affect a woman’s fertility. The doctor is likely to ask for further tests and treatment in case you’re experiencing any symptoms related to uterine fibroids. These treatments include medications, hormonal therapy, or surgery.
Gynecologists can diagnose and treat infections in female reproductive organs. Overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina can cause bacterial vaginosis (BV). They also treat:
- Yeast infections
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Menopause can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood fluctuations. It can also cause vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and memory problems. Your gynecologist can provide various treatments including hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This can help alleviate these symptoms and make menopause a smoother transition for you.
Menstrual disorders include heavy bleeding, irregular periods, or even no period at all. A gynecologist can help determine the underlying cause of these symptoms and provide treatment options to alleviate them.
Pelvic pain can range from mild discomfort to severe and debilitating cramps, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. Some causes of pelvic pain include:
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Depending on the cause of the pain, treatment might involve medications, lifestyle changes, or even surgery in some cases.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. Symptoms include irregular periods, infertility, acne, weight gain, and abnormal hair growth on the face or body. Treatment for PCOS includes lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise, and medications to control symptoms like acne or excessive hair growth.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to what normally lines the uterus grows outside the abdomen or pelvis area. This causes pain during periods and other symptoms like fertility issues or chronic fatigue. Treatment involves medications like hormones or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Surgery may also be recommended depending on the severity of the case.
What Is a Fertility Specialist?
A fertility specialist diagnoses and treats infertility in both men and women. They are also known as reproductive endocrinologists. They focus on the reproductive system and its hormonal functions and work to help individuals and couples conceive through various treatments.
What Can Fertility Specialists Treat?
Male Factor Infertility
Male factor infertility is caused by problems with sperm production or quality and includes problems such as low sperm count or abnormal morphology. If this infertility is suspected, the fertility specialist may recommend testing. This is to determine if underlying issues, like hormone imbalances or genetic abnormalities, might be causing the problem.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is two or more consecutive miscarriages before 20 weeks gestation. The first step in treating RPL is determining the cause behind it. This could include hormone imbalances or chromosomal abnormalities. The treatment plan may include medications, lifestyle changes, or surgical interventions depending on the underlying cause.
Genetic Disorders Related to Reproduction
Reproductive genetic disorders can increase risks associated with infertility, birth defects, and pregnancy complications. A few examples include Turner Syndrome and Klinefelter Syndrome. Fertility specialists can test for these disorders through blood tests and genetic testing procedures. This is to identify any underlying causes for potential fertility issues, birth defects, or developmental delays in offspring.
Infertility is the inability to become pregnant after one year of having unprotected sex or six months if the woman is over 35. A fertility specialist can determine the cause and best treatment options for your particular situation. They can also recommend lifestyle changes such as improving diet and exercise habits.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that includes irregular menstrual cycles. This leads to excessive facial hair growth, acne, and/or weight gain. A fertility specialist can diagnose PCOS through blood tests, hormone level tests, pelvic ultrasounds, or laparoscopy. They may also recommend lifestyle changes such as reducing stress levels or losing weight to improve symptoms of PCOS.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus grows outside of it on other organs within the body. Symptoms include pelvic pain during menstruation or intercourse and painful bowel movements during menstruation. Another symptom is fatigue due to chronic pain associated with endometriosis. A fertility specialist can diagnose endometriosis through physical exams or ultrasounds. Treatment involves medications such as birth control pills or surgery that removes any visible lesions caused by endometriosis.
Consult a Fertility Specialist Today
A fertility specialist and a gynecologist each have unique qualifications and specialties as healthcare providers that can benefit you. When deciding between the two, consider your personal fertility needs and the differences between the two healthcare professionals before proceeding. If you want to conceive or improve reproductive health outcomes, consult a fertility specialist.