An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions related to the endocrine system, the complex network of hormone-secreting glands in the human body. Hormones are critical to healthy function, and a number of conditions can be caused by under or overproduction of hormones, an inability to process certain hormones, and other problems with the endocrine system. These doctors tend to start out in pediatrics, gynecology, or internal medicine, branching out into endocrinology as their medical training progresses.
Your body produces large numbers of hormones every day which regulate everything from puberty to the function of organs. Endocrinologists study how hormones are made, how they travel through the body, how the body processes them, and how they break down. They use tools like blood tests and medical imaging to assess the health of the endocrine system in their patients, and to look for conditions related to malfunctions of the endocrine system.
There are a number of reasons to need the services of an endocrinologist. Sometimes, people approach the specialist directly, as in the case of transgendered people who want to take sex hormones as part of their transitioning process. In other instances, a patient may be referred to an endocrinologist for a condition which appears to be related to a problem with the endocrine system, and endocrinologists also work as members of medical teams treating patients with complex medical problems.
Diabetes and thyroid problems are two of the most common conditions endocrinologists deal with in their work. They may also work with people experiencing infertility issues, menopause, pituitary tumors, adrenal disorders, and numerous other conditions. The goal of the endocrinologist in any form of treatment is to determine the source of the problem, and to develop a treatment plan which will address it. Some endocrine disorders are chronic, meaning that a patient may require life-long care from this specialist, sometimes including life-long use of supplementary hormones.
One advantage to this branch of the medical profession is that the hours tend to be predictable and regular, with very few emergency situations requiring the services of an endocrinologist. The rate of pay for this medical specialty also tends to be quite good, especially for people who specialize in issues like infertility. An endocrinologist can work alone, out of a hospital, in a clinic, or as part of a cooperative medical practice, allowing patients a number of different ways to work with endocrinologists.