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What is a OBGYN? Explaining Our Medical Specialty

What is a OBGYN? Explaining Our Medical Specialty

It’s incredible to think of the women’s gift to conceive, grow and give life to a baby. 

The organs, biological make-up, and functionality of women’s bodies greatly differ from the male counterpart. 

This complexity requires the care of a doctor who’s specifically trained in a women’s health and the female reproductive system to provide the most meticulous medical care.

What does OB GYN stand for?

OB-GYN combines two specialties into one: obstetrics and gynecology.

The obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN) is a doctor who has completed a bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school, plus between 3-7 years of a residency program within these two fields of study. 

Let’s further discuss obstetrics and gynecology

Obstetrics is the study of a female body before pregnancy, during pregnancy, in childbirth and in the postpartum period.

Gynecology is the study of reproductive health and its functionality within a female body.

What does the OB GYN do?

Obstetricians: Trained professionals who provide care to their patients to prepare a female’s body to conceive, carry babies to term and obstetricians safely deliver babies.

This medical professional further performs specific procedures related to this process, like a C-section (Cesarean section) surgery. 

Obstetricians not only provide care for their patients to make sure they’re in the best health possible during the pregnancy, but they deliver babies too. 

The obstetrician monitors the health of the mom and baby during labor to determine the best delivery method to protect them both. 

Gynecologists: Trained professionals specializing in care for female health issues in their complexity.

The OB-GYN provides both of these specialties in his or her practice.

The Main Differences Between OB-GYN and Gynecology?

Gynecology is the branch of medicine that focuses specifically on the functions and the diseases that impact a female’s reproductive system. 

The gynecologist will perform a yearly exam on a patient to evaluate the healthy function of the pelvic organ, which consists of the bladder, uterus, cervix, vagina, and rectum.

A gynecologic exam most commonly includes cancer screenings, diagnosing/treatment of urinary tract infections, a PAP smear to inspect the cells, evaluating issues with the menstrual cycle, etc.

What is the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists? 

For short, it goes by the name “The College.” 

This non-profit organization made up of OB-GYN physicians, provides education for increased understanding of female health.

They recommend that women see a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology once per year for a pelvic exam.

The yearly exam includes close evaluation of the sexual organs so the OB-GYN can provide advice, diagnosis or treatment with early detection of unusual results.

The OB-GYN will perform necessary procedures that will improve their patients’ reproductive health.

This specialty physician, with the education/residency in gynecology, can do everything previously mentioned, together with providing care for a woman before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in the postpartum stage.

The OB-GYN can be a woman’s primary care physician, where the gynecologist is not permitted to provide primary care. 

A gynecologist is only permitted to provide advice, diagnosis, or treatment to care for women with specific health needs.

What is the difference in medical training for gynecologists compared to doctors of obstetrics & gynecology

Both the Gynecologist and OB-GYN must first receive their bachelor’s degree, then complete four years of medical school to obtain their medical license to become MD (doctor of medicine) or DO (doctor of osteopathy). 

Both professions require 4-year residency programs following graduation.

The difference between the two professions is their course of study, including the field of focus in their coursework plus practicums.

Sub-specialties of OB-GYN?

In some instances, women who have special conditions concerning the health of their reproductive system will have to see a specialist OB-GYN who has specific training in these fields.

Some examples:

Reproductive endocrinology and infertility: This is one who works with those experiencing infertility, the inability to get pregnant, including the function of the hormones related to reproduction. 

These specialists may offer in vitro fertilization to help couples with getting pregnant.

Maternal-fetal medicine: This is one who works with patients in high-risk pregnancies. 

High-risk pregnancies may include those with pre-existing health conditions, or ladies younger than 17 or older than 35, who are overweight, pregnant with multiples, or have had difficult pregnancies in the past.

Urogynecological surgeons provide treatment for patients with pelvic floor disorders.

Gynecologic oncology provides treatment for patients with cancer of the reproductive system.

Can you see the OB-GYN if you’re not pregnant?

Yes, in fact, The College recommends that teenage girls start seeing their OB-GYN by age 13. 

Getting established with your OB-GYN, even if you’re not pregnant, will help to identify/treat the medical conditions of the reproductive organs quicker.

For sexually-active females, those with menstruation or the lack of, those nearing menopause, females wanting to become pregnant or would like to prevent pregnancy, etc. should regularly see the OB-GYN specialist. 

Routine visits will help solve your women’s health questions so you can stay on top of your health care needs.

Do you have questions on when to see your OB-GYN? Share your comments or questions below. 

We would love to hear from you!

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