What is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is a complex group of glands and organs that produce and regulate hormones in the bloodstream to control many functions of the body - such as reproduction, metabolism and growth and development. Hormones also control the way you respond to your surroundings, and they help provide the proper amount of energy and nutrition your body needs to function. The major glands that make up the endocrine system include the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes, adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamus.
What is an endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a specialty-trained physician who diagnoses and treats disorders of the endocrine (hormonal) system and certain other metabolic conditions. Diabetes is the most common type of endocrine disorder, but endocrinologists provide care for patients with many other conditions including:
- pituitary, adrenal and thyroid disorders
- calcium disorders - including osteoporosis and osteopenia
- cancers of the endocrine glands
- cholesterol (lipid) disorders
- male and female hormonal disorders - including hypogonadism and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Endocrinologists also conduct research to better understand how glands function, as well as clinical research to learn the best treatment methods. Primary care physicians refer patients to an endocrinologist when they have a problem with their endocrine system.
What type of medical training do endocrinologists receive?
Endocrinologists complete four years of medical school and then spend three to four years in an internship and residency program. These specialty programs cover internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Following the completion of their residency and internship, two or three additional years are spent completing their fellowship. During this time, they learn how to diagnose and treat hormone conditions. Endocrinologists may be board certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Mercy is proud to have eight board-certified endocrinologists.