An endocrinologist diagnoses and treats diseases that affect the body's glands, explains the Hormone Health Network. Primary care physicians often send patients who have hormone imbalances to see an endocrinologist. Some common conditions that endocrinologists treat include menopause, thyroid diseases, cancer in the endocrine glands, infertility and metabolic disorders. Endocrinologists may also conduct clinical research instead of treating patients, according to the American College of Physicians.
Endocrinologists seek to identify the problem causing the hormonal imbalance and bring the patient's hormones back to normal levels, according to the Hormone Health Network. Abnormal hormone levels can affect a body's reproduction ability, growth, energy levels and overall development, notes the American College of Physicians. Hormones also regulate blood circulation, thirst, metabolism, appetite and digestion.
Endocrinologists study the glands of the endocrine system, which include the parathyroids, thyroid, pituitary, pineal and thymus glands, notes the American College of Physicians. They also learn about the testes, ovaries, pancreas and adrenals. However, these glands are not the only parts of the body that produce hormones. Organs like the kidneys, heart, stomach and brain also produce hormones that travel through the body, so an endocrinologist understands how these organs can affect the body's overall hormone levels.
Not all people with endocrine disorders need to see an endocrinologist, explains the American College of Physicians. Often a patient's primary care physician can treat simple disorders. However, more-complex problems, such as uncontrolled diabetes, auto-immune disease and pituitary dysfunction require the skills of an endocrinologist.