More about Theriogenology and Reproductive Medicine

Theriogenology and Reproductive Medicine

The Theriogenology and Reproductive Medicine Service handles all phases of breeding services including artificial insemination for a variety of large and small animal patients, advanced assisted reproductive techniques, breeding soundness evaluations of male and female, obstetrics, management of diseases or complications of the postpartum period, and medical or surgical management of diseases of the male and female reproductive tract.

What is Theriogenology?

In the early 1970’s Dr. David E. Bartlett, the first president of what was to become the American College of Theriogenologists, consulted with Dr. Herbert Howe of the Department of Classics at the University of Wisconsin to create a word that would denote the veterinary specialty that deals with animal reproduction, obstetrics, and reproductive disorders in general. The word “theriogenology” was created by combining therio (beast, animal), gen/genesis (beginning, birth, reproduction), and ology (study of).

What is a Theriogenologist?

A veterinary reproductive specialist, also called a theriogenologist, is a board-certified specialist in reproduction. These veterinarians have advanced post-DVM education and training following, and have been recognized and evaluated by the American College of Theriogenologists and recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Restoration of Fertility

Assisted reproductive technologies consist of a group of procedures that offers several options for breeding animals that have had difficulty conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy following routine breeding management with standard breeding practices. A fertility exam by a theriogenologist or reproductive specialist can help identify problems in these horses. A plan for treating these subfertile or infertile animals is discussed with you and your primary care veterinarian.

Maximization of Reproductive Potential

Assisted reproductive services are also available to maximize the breeding potential of breeding (and reproductively sound) animals. For example, semen freezing or embryo transfer are good options for horses engaged in a busy competing/showing schedule that need to remain in constant training/conditioning. Female dogs or horses can be artificially inseminated in any part of the country with frozen or shipped cooled semen.

Examples of Assisted Reproductive Techniques Offered by the Theriogenology and Reproductive Medicine Service at the OSU Veterinary Medical Center

Artificial Insemination: Cooled and frozen semen. Non-surgical and surgical procedures are offered for different species (small ruminants, cattle, horses and dogs).

Surgical, Laparoscopic or Hysteroscopic Insemination: Depending on the species (dogs, small ruminants, horses), when straws of frozen semen are limited or when only low sperm numbers are available, depositing the semen into the uterus has been shown to increase pregnancy rates. This is currently available for livestock and companion animals.

Embryo Transfer: Currently offered to horses only, but planning to include other livestock species in the near future. Mares that conceive but are unable to carry a pregnancy to term are candidates for embryo transfer. Current embryo transfer techniques using non-surgical collection and non-surgical transfer of embryos are offered. Embryo freezing (vitrification) is currently offered for horses only.

Oocyte Transfer and GIFT: Oocyte transfer and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) are techniques indicated for females that cycle relatively normally but don’t conceive when adequately mated or artificially inseminated. This procedure is currently offered for horses.

Semen Collection: Semen collection for routine analyses, fertility work-ups and/or breeding is available for all species.

Semen Freezing: Cryopreservation of stallion and dog semen is available. Freezing semen increases the length of time it can be stored or shipped. We plan on offering semen freezing for other livestock species in the near future.

Semen Analysis: State-of-the-art equipment for computer-assisted sperm analysis is available to evaluate the reproductive potential and to diagnose infertility (all species).

Training for Semen Collection: Stallions new to artificial vagina (AV) collection and stud dogs not previously used for semen collection can be brought to the facility for training and artificial collection of semen.


Research in the Reproduction Program is concentrated in three areas:

  • Assisted reproductive techniques
  • Estrus synchronization, pharmacological manipulation of estrous cycles
  • Investigating mare and stallion infertility

To Schedule Appointments or For More Information

For questions about services offered and protocols utilized in our Theriogenology and Reproductive Medicine Program, and which species these services are available for please contact:

Dr. Marco A. Coutinho da Silva

Phone: (614) 292-6661