Fertility Specialists And ART

Couples choosing to use assisted reproductive technologies (ART) will meet a number of specialists. Here is a list of those experts and their roles.

Fertility Specialists

Fertility specialists are obstetricians/gynaecologists (OB/GYN) or endocrinologists who have additional specialized training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

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A clinical embryologist is a scientist who specializes in areas such as embryology, biochemistry, microbiology or genetics. The embryologist prepares the sperm and egg for in vitro fertilization (IVF), then ensures that the conditions are met for fertilization to occur and the embryo to develop. An embryologist also may be trained in the preservation of embryos (cryopreservation) for future use.

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Egg Donor Coordinator

To find an appropriate donor, a screening coordinator will take and analyze information about a donor’s medical, lifestyle and genetic background, and may help match a donor’s attributes with those sought by the recipient couple. An OB/GYN or endocrinologist with a specialization in reproductive endocrinology and infertility will perform physical exams and blood tests on the donor and the recipient, retrieve eggs from the donor and later transfer the resulting embryos to the recipient. An embryologist will ensure that lab conditions are conducive to embryo development and cryopreservation if applicable. A counselor or psychologist will meet with both the donor and the recipient to discuss the relevant issues before proceeding.

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Specialized Nurses

Often it is a centre’s nurses who make the ART process less stressful. A specialized fertility nurse is trained and may be certified in procedures and issues specific to infertility and ART.

Duties may include:

  • Helping with initial consultations
  • Teaching patients to self -administer their medications
  • Administering medications
  • Conducting limited transvaginal ultrasound scanning (some centres may have their own ultrasonographer or the physicians perform the ultrasounds)
  • Performing intrauterine inseminations

Specialized nurses often help teach patients about the ART medications and procedures, and train patients how to give themselves injections. Some also help counsel patients as they go through the ART process.

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Surrogacy Coordinator
  • A screening coordinator will acquire and analyze information from potential surrogates about their medical, lifestyle and genetic history, and perform criminal background checks.
  • A social worker, family counselor or psychologist will conduct psychological testing and counsel the couple and the surrogate mother about issues surrounding surrogacy.
  • A fertility specialist will conduct a physical exam to ensure the potential surrogate is able to carry a child to term.
  • An attorney specializing in surrogacy law will draft a contract setting forth the rights and responsibilities of the couple and the surrogate.

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Residents & Fellows

At a university/medical school there may be physicians who complete all of their OB/GYN or endocrinology training and choose to sub-specialize in reproductive endocrinology. This residency or Fellowship will lead to accreditation as a Reproductive Endocrinologist by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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