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How to Become a Fertility Specialist
Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara explains how to become a fertility specialist and why this in-demand field is so rewarding.
By: UAG
17/Jul/2023
UAG
The first human born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) came into the world in 1978. In the decades that have followed, more than 9 million babies have been born with the help of IVF and other types of assisted reproduction technology. Today, when the reality is that one in eight couples in the United States will struggle to conceive a child, reproductive medicine physicians are some of the most in-demand doctors around. It’s about more than assisting reproduction, though. They’re also called fertility specialists, but these doctors can not only help boost a couple’s chances of conception but can also perform sterilization operations, like tubal ligations and vasectomies. They can help extend the timeline for starting a family, and they can also advise on when it’s inadvisable to try to conceive. They’re good listeners, non-judgmental, and they help take care of people when they’re at their most vulnerable. So, what does it take to become a fertility specialist? It is not an easy path, but it does lead to a rewarding and meaningful career. 

It starts with obtaining a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree. The eight years involved in this process are like that of any doctor. Students must have a bachelor’s degree, a high-grade point average, and a good score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to be accepted into medical school. In medical school, they will spend the first two years doing non-clinical studies, learning from textbooks and lab work, and in the final two years of medical school they will explore different specialties through clinical rotations, in which they work with patients, practicing medicine in a variety of fields. This gives them the opportunity to choose a specialty that they want to pursue, in order to begin their medical career. Once the specialty is chosen, the student applies to and completes a residency in that specialty, in order to be licensed to practice medicine. 

For those who wish to become fertility specialists, there are two paths when choosing a specialty. Students wishing to focus on female fertility complete residencies in obstetrics and gynecology, while those who want to focus on male fertility choose residencies in urology. Many of these residencies, both in OB-GYN and urology, now offer specialized training in transgender medicine.
 
Becoming a reproductive medicine physician requires additional training. Having spent three to four years focusing on obstetrics and gynecology, a physician who wants to specialize in human reproduction must then complete another three years of training in a specialized reproductive endocrinology fellowship. During this time, they will treat infertile patients while being supervised by experienced practitioners. Once the fellowship is completed, a physician must pass a second set of board exams in order to gain certification as a reproductive endocrinologist. 

Urologists who wish to become fertility specialists follow a similar path, but it’s slightly different. Reproductive endocrinologists treat both men and women for infertility. However, as discussed, their focus is on women’s health. Urologists have an important role to play as fertility specialists, however, because male factors contribute to about 40 percent of fertility issues. Urologists specialize in the urinary tract and male reproductive organs, and they spend five years in residency after graduation from medical school. This includes one year as a general surgical intern, then four years of training in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of urinary problems, fertility, and erectile dysfunction.

Fertility specialists need to be up to date on current technologies and procedures, so they must have a strong commitment to continuing education. However, they must also be equipped to provide couples with coaching about lifestyle factors and the basics of fertility. While gynecologists can prescribe medications to assist with ovulation, or perform intrauterine insemination, reproductive endocrinologists are needed for in-vitro fertilization or the administration of fertility drugs, as well as treatment of other issues with the reproductive system, including those necessitating surgical correction.
 
Becoming a fertility specialist begins with choosing a medical school, and if you are looking for a medical school with a deep-rooted tradition of quality, look into Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara. The first medical school in Latin America to offer a US-style curriculum, we are committed to cultivating future physicians who have the skills and abilities necessary to meet the challenges of personal and community health. With the best facilities in Guadalajara, state-of-the-art laboratories, and a close working relationship with many of the hospitals in the city, we are able to provide an excellent educational experience for our students both on campus and in the field. With the goal of preparing graduates for careers as physicians where they can provide individuals, families, and communities with outstanding preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services, our medical school offers a curriculum of excellence. We prepare our students to heal and serve their community, and we encourage them to strive for innovation, academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to society. For more information about our college of medicine, call 833-220-7645 or contact us through our website.

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