Endocrinologists are physician specialists for conditions of the endocrine glands, which regulate the production of hormones in our bodies. These hormones affect our growth, metabolism and sexual function, among other tasks. Endocrinologists work with patients who are suffering from conditions related to an imbalance of these hormones.
Pediatric endocrinologists specialize in common issues in the endocrine system that affect kids. For instance, according to the Council of Pediatric Sub-specialties, pediatric endocrinologists work with many children who have problems related to their development, such as growth disorders or sex development disorders. Children who lag far behind their peers in height are frequent patients. Pediatric endocrinologists also help children who are dealing with obesity, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and hypoglycemia, among other glandular-related conditions.
A reproductive endocrinologist is a specialist in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. They focus their practice on infertility, working with individual patients and couples to pinpoint the reasons they are struggling to have a baby and to provide treatment solutions. They often work with patients with physical abnormalities that make conception difficult. Their focus is the female patient and the reproductive organs, such as the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Treatments vary but could include medication, surgery, artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.
Internal Medicine Endocrinologists
An endocrinologist in the internal medicine sub-specialty treats a broader range of patients than those in pediatric or reproductive endocrinology. They work with patients who are suffering from a variety of conditions that affect adults. Some common ailments they address include hypertension, osteoporosis, menopause, thyroid diseases, weight problems, high cholesterol and diabetes, according to "Medical News Today." In many cases, patients experience more than one of these conditions because of their close relation to each other. Some internal endocrinologists also treat glandular cancers.
Education and Training
The three types of endocrinologists take slightly different paths to their fields of practice. Each must first graduate from medical school, gaining a broad base of health care education. Following medical school, a pediatric endocrinologist serves a three-year residency in pediatrics, a reproductive endocrinologist serves a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology and an internal medicine endocrinologist completes a three-year residency in internal medicine. Endocrinologists then take a two- or three-year fellowship in their chosen sub-specialty.
Tom Gresham is a freelance writer and public relations specialist who has been writing professionally since 1999. His articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "Virginia Magazine," "Vermont Magazine," "Adirondack Life" and the "Southern Arts Journal," among other publications. He graduated from the University of Virginia.