What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI)?

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What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI)?

June 01, 2010

A Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) is a specialist in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, a medical doctor with advanced training in the science of fertility and its evaluation and treatment.  An REI focuses on the hormones and mechanics of conception with advanced knowledge of sperm, eggs, male anatomy, female anatomy, and the complex interactions between pituitary and reproductive hormones.  An REI will be trained in evaluating the problems that can interfere with conception, and has in depth knowledge of the treatments for fixing these problems.

An REI starts training after medical school in a 4 or 5 year residency in obstetrics and gynecology.  Specialty training in reproduction after residency requires 2-3 years at an advanced educational and research institute.  The fellow in REI works side-by-side with experts in the field, developing clinical expertise in evaluation and treatment of fertility, and researching new areas of reproduction.  The REI will be trained in laboratory and clinical research techniques, the mechanics and hormones of fertility, and in maintaining a lifelong love of the pursuit of advancing knowledge of fertility.

After completing the fellowship, an REI is "board eligible". To be “board certified,” an REI must publish a thesis in a peer-reviewed journal. The REI must pass an in-depth written exam and then appear before experts in the field for an oral exam to test their depth of knowledge, defend their thesis, and demonstrate reasoning in solving fertility problems.  If they pass the exams, they are then "board certified". This certification is the highest level of achievement in the field of infertility.

All REIs certified since 1990 are required to maintain their certification every year (a few are grandfathered in).  This involves reading and evaluating peer-reviewed journal articles on current advances in the field, and a written exam every year.  New standards require demonstration of clinical knowledge and a commitment to advancing standards of clinical care, the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process.

While there is no formal requirement, most REIs will maintain membership in national and international fertility societies, such as the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI).  The Society for Assisted Reproduction (SART), devoted to in vitro fertilization and its variants, does not require REI certification.  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is the umbrella organization supervising these specialized societies.  Most anyone with a professional interest in fertility can join ASRM, but SREI requires board certification.

At Pacific Fertility Center, we bring a complete team of specialists together to focus on your fertility situation. With extensive backgrounds as REI specialists, embryologists, nurses, marriage and family therapists and financial counselors, we develop a single, integrated solution to your medical, psychological and financial needs.

Please use our Ask the Experts resource if you have further questions.

-- Philip Chenette, MD