If you are experiencing issues or have questions related to women’s health, you may be wondering if you should see a gynecologist or an OB-GYN. Some people believe that the two titles are different ways of referring to the same type of doctor, but there is actually an important distinction to be aware of.
Here is a look at the difference between a gynecologist and an OB-GYN so you can determine the right professional for your needs.
What Is the Difference Between an OB-GYN and a Gynecologist?
In the US, physicians who train to be OB-GYNs typically train in the fields of both obstetrics and gynecology.While both are focused on providing care related to female health, they serve different roles. Obstetrics refers to care provided to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and immediately after delivery. Gynecology generally refers to care for women who are not pregnant.
What Is a Gynecologist?
A gynecologist is a doctor who can handle various aspects of overall female health. This may include issues related to menstruation, screening for female health conditions and sexually transmitted diseases, and other aspects of sexual health. They may help with conditions affecting the reproductive system, such as the ovaries, vagina, fallopian tubes, cervix, or uterus, and they can also perform screenings such as Pap smears, pelvic exams, and breast exams.
They can do procedures such as tubal ligations and hysterectomies, and they can administer shots that offer protection against the human papilloma virus. They can also provide patients with various forms of birth control.
What Is an OB-GYN?
As you might have guessed, the latter half of the term “OB-GYN” indicates that the doctor is a gynecologist. However, “OB” designates them as an obstetrician as well. Obstetricians are trained in providing prenatal care and can work with women who are pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, and postpartum. They can help women through every stage of childbirth, from prenatal care to delivery and throughout their recovery.
Although there are some medical professionals who are only obstetricians and can only provide services related to pregnancy and childbirth, many physicians choose to specialize in both obstetrics and gynecology in order to provide more comprehensive care to their patients. These are the doctors known as OB-GYNs.
After graduating from medical school, aspiring OB-GYNs must undergo residency training programs that address health at every stage of pregnancy, from prior to conception to recovery, and they learn about issues surrounding prenatal diagnosis, genetic counseling, and other genetics-related issues. They may undergo rotations related to reproductive endocrinology, gynecological surgery, infertility, and ultrasonography.
Which Doctor Should I See?
If you are pregnant or believe you may be, an obstetrician or OB-GYN is the right doctor to see as they have the training and equipment needed to address complications that may arise during pregnancy and can help you to ensure a healthy pregnancy. If you already have a gynecologist you trust, you can ask them to refer you to a suitable OB-GYN when you become pregnant.
An OB-GYN can handle pregnancy complications, such as signs of fetal distress, preeclampsia, placenta issues, and ectopic pregnancies. They are trained to make deliveries via Cesarean section as well as vaginal births.
For all other health-care concerns related to women’s health, a gynecologist is a good choice. They can perform routine visits, such as annual checkups and pelvic exams. They can also help you with problems related to menstruation, such as irregular periods or painful menstrual cycles.
For sexually active women who would like STI screening or a birth control, a gynecologist can help. They can provide advice on matters related to sexual practices, protection against diseases, and contraceptives. If you are experiencing pain during sex or dryness, for example, they can diagnosis and treat it. They can also help with vaginal infections, pelvic organ prolapse, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and related conditions.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of menopause, a gynecologist is also the right professional to visit. For women who are in their 40s or 50s who are dealing with symptoms such as hot flashes or mood swings, it may be the result of menopause. A gynecologist can help you to manage your symptoms.
Although many people believe that they should always choose an OB-GYN because they offer more comprehensive care than a gynecologist, a gynecologist is a great choice for women’s health care when you are not pregnant. In fact, some patients may find it easier to get an appointment with their gynecologist since busy OB-GYN practices tend to prioritize their pregnant patients.
Reach Out to Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
Reach out to Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness today to make an appointment to discuss your female health-care needs. Our team of highly trained gynecologists are prepared to help women manage health conditions and conduct wellness screenings through all stages of their life.