An Obstetrics and Gynecology is a doctor who specializes in women’s health. The female body experiences many different biological functions, including menstruation, childbirth, and menopause. OB-GYNs provide care for all of this and more. Here’s a look at what they do and when you should consider seeing one.
What is obstetrics?
Obstetrics is the branch of medicine related to medical and surgical care before, during, and after a woman gives birth. Obstetrics focuses on caring for and maintaining a woman’s overall health during maternity.
- the postpartum period
OB-GYNs can conduct office visits, perform surgery, and assist with labor and delivery. Some OB-GYNs provide services through a solo or private practice. Others do so as part of a larger medical group or hospital.
What is gynecology?
Gynecology is the branch of medicine that focuses on women’s bodies and their reproductive health. It includes the diagnosis, treatment, and care of women’s reproductive system.
This includes the:
- fallopian tubes
This branch of medicine also includes screening for and treating issues associated with women’s breasts.
Gynecology is the overarching field of women’s health from puberty through adulthood. It represents most of the reproductive care you’ll receive during your lifetime. If you become pregnant, you’ll need to go to an obstetrician.
What are the specialty areas
Approximately 90 percent of OB-GYNs are generalists. This means they work across a wide range of OB-GYN services. Some choose to specialize in one or more different subspecialties. These may include:
These specialists care for patients with high-risk pregnancies and related medical conditions. You might see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist if you have:
- chronic or gestational high blood pressure
- gestational diabetes
- blood-clotting disorders
- premature labor
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility
These endocrinologists address issues related to infertility and the glands and hormones of the endocrine system. If you wish to become pregnant but are having trouble conceiving, you can go to a reproductive endocrinologist. They perform assisted reproduction procedures, such as:
- in vitro fertilization
- gamete intrafallopian transfer
- zygote intrafallopian transfer
- embryo transfer
These oncologists specialize in diagnosing and treating cancers of the female reproductive system. This includes cancers of the:
Female pelvic medicine and reproductive surgery
These surgeons focus on treating women with urinary tract disorders. They also focus on disorders of the muscle and connective tissue located just beneath a woman’s pelvis. This area is called the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor may become weak as a result of pregnancy, age, or certain medical conditions. These specialists address:
- urinary or fecal incontinence
- vaginal or urinary tract infections
- overactive bladder
- bladder pain
- pelvic organ prolapse
Education and training requirements
A doctor must first complete their bachelor’s degree and four years of medical school training to become an OB-GYN.
After medical school, you must complete four years of graduate-level education as a resident focusing on obstetrics and gynecology. During this period, doctors learn about reproductive issues and other health-related issues in women. In particular, they learn about:
Doctors complete their residency under the supervision of an attending doctor in a medical setting, such as in a hospital.
You must complete an additional three years of training after you finish your residency to specialize in a certain area.
After all required training has been completed, you must pass a specialty board certification exam. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology oversees this exam.
OB-GYNs must take a maintenance exam every six years to uphold their certification.
When should you see an OB-GYN?
The best way to treat health and medical issues is with preventive care. Women who are healthy and aren’t experiencing any reproductive health issues should get a preventive checkup once per year.
During this visit, your doctor may conduct evaluations, immunizations, or lab tests for certain diseases. Your age group generally helps your doctor determine which tests to order. Your doctor will also perform a pelvic exam. Depending on your age and health, your doctor may request additional tests or screenings.
In addition to your annual checkup, you should visit your OB-GYN when changes in your reproductive cycle occur. These changes may be routine, planned, or expected. These changes include:
- your first menstrual cycle
These changes could also be abnormal, unusual, or unexpected. This includes:
- changes in the volume or frequency of menstrual bleeding
- unusual cramping
- pain during urination
- pain during intercourse
At Amrita Medical Center, our staff is happy to answer any of your questions and help you decide if the right fit for you. We even offer same day appointments for your convenience. Contact us here!