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The role of an endocrinologist

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Endocrinologists are specialist doctors who treat a wide range of conditions related to hormone problems and endocrine (hormone) glands.
  • Endocrinologists can help with issues related to diabetes, menopause, puberty and thyroid problems
  • You will need a referral from your doctor to see an endocrinologist, and they will work together to ensure you receive the best healthcare.

What does an endocrinologist do?

An endocrinologist is a medical specialist who treats people with conditions that are caused by problems with endocrine glands and hormones, such as diabetes, menopause and thyroid problems.

A paediatric endocrinologist treats children with medical conditions caused by problems with hormones and endocrine glands. In children, hormones affect puberty, growth, bone development, type-1 diabetes and other important body functions.

What is the endocrine system?

The endocrine system is a complex network of glands and hormones that regulate many body functions, including growth, metabolism, and the balance of chemicals in the body.

Hormones are produced and secreted by glands in the endocrine system. This controls various bodily functions and includes:

  • the pituitary gland
  • the thyroid gland
  • the parathyroid gland
  • the adrenal glands
  • the pancreas
  • ovaries and testes

When do I see an endocrinologist?

Endocrinologists can treat many conditions related to endocrine glands and hormones, including:

What should I expect during an appointment with an endocrinologist?

Your endocrinologist will ask you about your symptoms, and your medical and family history.

They may also ask you about medicines you take and any allergies you may have.

Your endocrinologist will review any test results and medical information to diagnose your specific condition and prescribe any necessary medicines.

They will recommend an appropriate management plan to ensure you get the correct medical treatment for your condition. This may involve further tests.

They may admit or refer you to a hospital and could consult with other medical specialists, if needed.

Before going to an endocrinologist

Before you go to the endocrinologist, write down any symptoms you have, including any major stresses or recent changes in your life. Note your family medical history, with a focus on hormone conditions — ask them if you're not sure.

Check with the endocrinologist and your doctor if you need to have any blood tests or take along any x-rays.

What questions should I ask an endocrinologist?

It's a good idea to write down some questions to ask your endocrinologist. Here are examples:

  • What is causing my symptoms?
  • Is this condition temporary or ongoing?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What is the best way to treat or manage my condition?
  • Is there anything I can do to help my condition?
  • How long will my treatment last?
  • Will you look after me long term, or is this just a one-off visit?

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

Also, remember to take a list of all your medicines, vitamins or supplements with you.

Where can I find an endocrinologist?

Ask your doctor for a recommendation, or you can use the healthdirect Service Finder. The Endocrine Society of Australia has a tool that helps you find endocrinologists. This is based on the endocrinologist's location or area of expertise.

Do I need a referral to see an endocrinologist?

You will need a referral from your doctor to see an endocrinologist. Your GP can diagnose and treat some basic hormonal conditions, but sometimes they will need the help of a specialist.

That way, they can pass on useful information, and the endocrinologist can update them with all their findings after your visit. They will work together to make sure you get the right medical care.

You may need to wait a while before seeing an endocrinologist. Some specialists have long wait times before you can get an appointment.

How much will an endocrinologist cost?

An endocrinologist's cost depends on the type of care you receive. This may depend on if you need treatment in hospital, if you have private health insurance, and on how much the endocrinologist charges.

When you make an appointment to see an endocrinologist, ask how much the visit will cost, and how much you will get back from Medicare.

Resources and support

These organisations have information about specific health conditions that might involve a referral to an endocrinologist:

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Last reviewed: October 2023

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