Obstetricians are doctors who deliver babies through normal childbirths (vaginal delivery) or cesarean section surgeries. They also provide care for pregnant women before they give birth, after they give birth, and during their postpartum period (the first six weeks after delivery).
Gynecologists are women’s health experts who specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders related to female reproductive organs such as the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes; menstrual cycle problems such as menorrhagia (heavy bleeding); infertility issues; female sexual dysfunction issues such as vaginismus (tightening muscles around vagina causing pain during intercourse) The term “obstetrician” refers to someone who delivers babies, while the term “gynecologist” refers to someone who works with the female reproductive system.
This guide serves as your toolkit, equipping you with the information and resources you need to understand and manage your reproductive health. So, let’s get started on cultivating a beautiful and healthy reproductive garden together!
What’s the GYN part?
GYN stands for gynecologist. A GYN is a doctor who provides comprehensive reproductive health care to women. A general practitioner can be a gynecologist, but not all general practitioners are gynecologists or obstetricians.
A specialist in women’s health is called an OBGYN (obstetrics/gynecology), which means that they specialize in treating female patients with conditions affecting their reproductive organs and systems: ovaries, uterus/womb, cervix, and vagina; as well as breasts and external genitalia.
General Obstetrics Services
An OB/GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) must have completed additional training in both areas of medicine and have experience providing advanced care & health needs which makes them qualified to perform the following procedures:
The diagnostic process is an important part of any healthcare visit, and OB/GYN services are no exception. Diagnostics are tests that help determine the cause of an illness or disease. They can also be used to determine the severity of an illness or disease and whether it has spread beyond its original site in your body. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly.
Education and Consultation
Education and consultation are the most important services an OBGYN can provide to their patients. They provide education and counseling on a variety of topics, including:
- Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Prevention of cervical cancer
- Prevention of ovarian cancer
Education is information that gives people knowledge about important issues during the stages of life such as pregnancy prevention, contraception options (birth control), STDs/STIs (sexually transmitted diseases), etc.
The primary function of an OB/GYN is to provide prenatal care for women who are pregnant, hoping to become pregnant, or women with high-risk pregnancies. They will also deliver babies when it comes time for delivery, whether it’s in a hospital or at home with midwives present (this is called “home birth”). During pregnancy, your doctor will monitor your health closely through regular visits where they check your weight gain and blood pressure levels as well as do tests like ultrasounds on your baby’s development inside the womb.
Reproductive health issues
An OB/GYN can treat reproductive issues such as irregular menstruation, painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness caused by menopause, abnormal bleeding during menstrual cycles, infertility problems such as blocked fallopian tubes, and of course, the list goes on.
Depending on your age and unique health history, there are a variety of birth control options for you to consider. These include the following:
- Birth control pills
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Hormonal implants
- Barrier methods (like condoms)
The side effects of these methods vary depending on what type of contraception you choose and your medical history. Some may cause weight gain or headaches, while others have no side effects at all! You should talk with your doctor about what’s best for you before deciding on your method. Once they’ve given their recommendation, be sure to read up on how each method works.
OBGYN Health Services For Women
The most common problems that affect reproductive health in women include:
Vaginal discharge (leukorrhea)
Vaginal discharge is the fluid that comes out of your vagina. It’s normal to have some discharge, but if you notice a change in its color or amount, it could be a sign of infection or other health issues.
The amount of vaginal discharge varies based on where you are in your menstrual cycle and what kind of hormonal changes your body may be going through at the time (for example puberty or pregnancy). Normal vaginal secretions are clear or white and should not smell bad–just like sweat! If your secretions smell like rotten fish or meat that has gone bad then chances are something is wrong with what’s going on down there.
Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) is a common problem for women, but it may be caused by several different conditions. Some of these include:
Endometriosis–when tissue that normally lines your uterus grows outside of your uterus, usually on other organs in the pelvic cavity or on scars from previous surgeries. This can cause pain during or after sex as well as painful periods or bleeding between periods.
Bacterial vaginosis–a vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina that produces an unpleasant-smelling discharge and irritation during sex.
Vaginal dryness–the result of low estrogen levels after menopause or during breastfeeding; this can make it difficult to have an orgasm and/or pain when you do have one because there is less lubrication available inside the vagina during arousal than there used to be before menopause began its decline into full swing (which may take years).
Abnormal bleeding can be a sign of a serious health problem. If you have abnormal bleeding and don’t know what’s causing it, talk to your doctor right away.
Abnormal bleeding may be caused by:
- Hormonal changes or ovulation (the process in which an egg is released from the ovary)
- Underlying diseases such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, endometrial cancer, or thyroid problems
- Pain in your lower abdomen or back (especially on one side).
- Pain during or after sex.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common type of bacterial infection in women. They can be caused by bacteria or a virus, but they usually occur when bacteria from the vagina travel up the urethra and into your bladder or kidneys.
Symptoms include frequent urination, pain during urination, fever, and chills. If you have any of these symptoms it’s important to see your doctor right away so they can diagnose what kind of infection you have and treat it appropriately.
UTIs are most common in young women who have had multiple sexual partners because this increases their risk of contracting STDs such as chlamydia which could lead to UTIs if left untreated.
Ovarian cysts and tumors
Ovarian cysts are filled with fluid and can develop in either the ovaries or on their outer surface. They can be painful when they burst and cause abdominal discomfort, so many women choose to have them removed if they’re large enough or cause any other symptoms.
Ovarian tumors can also occur in women who don’t have any other symptoms of cancer–in fact, about half of all ovarian tumors are benign (noncancerous). But if you suspect you might have an ovarian tumor or another type of reproductive health concern, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your options for treatment or preventive measures.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Normally, during your period, this lining breaks down and leaves your body through your vagina. If endometrial cells are found elsewhere in your body, they can cause pain during menstrual periods, intercourse, and bowel movements.
Endometriosis can occur on any part of your reproductive system including ovaries; fallopian tubes; bladder or intestinal wall; cervix; rectum or other structures near where pelvic organs exit from under your abdominal muscles into the pelvis cavity as well as some other sites not directly related to reproduction but such as lungs or skin under breasts/chest wall due to spreading via lymphatic channels that drain fluid from these areas back into the bloodstream at various locations along their path away from their source within pelvis area where they were first deposited (as with any “disease” caused by abnormal cell growth).
While the exact cause of pelvic pain is often unknown, it can be caused by many different things. Pelvic pain may be a sign of endometriosis, ovarian cysts, tumors, or UTI. An OBGYN can help you take care of this
How is Cervical Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?
If you’re diagnosed with cervical cancer, treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer. Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The tests for cervical cancer include a Pap smear and HPV test:
A Pap smear detects cell changes in your cervix caused by HPV or other STIs that may lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. A Pap test is a common, simple procedure that can help identify cervical cancer and other problems early.
A doctor or nurse will take a sample of cells from your vagina and cervix with an instrument called a speculum, which holds open the vagina while they look inside it with a special magnifying lens (a colposcope). The doctor or nurse then brushes some of the cells onto glass slides for examination under a microscope by him/herself or another healthcare professional who specializes in looking at microscopy images like these–a pathologist.
An HPV test looks for signs of high-risk strains of this virus that can cause abnormal cells on your cervix.
What is An Abnormal Pap smear?
An abnormal Pap smear is defined as any result that is not normal. A negative diagnosis means that no abnormalities were found on your cervix, and a positive diagnosis means that some form of abnormality was found on the surface of or within your cervix.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women between the ages of 21 and 29 get a pap smear every three years.
What is a Colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a procedure that uses a special microscope to look at the cervix. The cervix is the opening to your uterus, which is where you carry and deliver babies. A colposcopy involves using a vinegar solution to highlight abnormal cells on your cervix so they can be seen more clearly under magnification. If these cells are found during this test, they may need to be removed with surgery or laser treatment (called LEEP).
In addition to being able to see abnormal cells more clearly than before, there are other benefits of having an annual Pap smear: it helps prevent cervical cancer by finding abnormal growths before they become serious problems; it can help detect STDs such as chlamydia or gonorrhea if they’re present; and it provides information about when you’re most fertile so you can plan ahead if pregnancy isn’t something you want right now but do want later in life
When Do You Need a Colposcopy?
Colposcopies are used to examine the cervix, which is the opening to your uterus. The procedure can help doctors identify and treat certain conditions, including:
- Abnormal Pap smears
- Symptoms of cervical cancer (such as abnormal bleeding)
- A family history of cervical cancer or pre-cancerous lesions (called dysplasia)
If you have a history of problems with your pap smears, it’s important that you make sure that you get regular checkups with an OB/GYN who specializes in colposcopy procedures. These specialists will perform these examinations on women over the age of 30 years old who have never been diagnosed with cancer or pre-cancerous lesions before–or whose conditions have worsened since their last visit.
Comprehensive Gynecology You Should Get Occasionally
There are many ways to maintain good reproductive health, but your gynecologist can help determine what’s best for you.
Gynecologists provide a variety of services related to women’s reproductive health including:
- Birth control
- Menopause management and treatment options
- Treatment for yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs) as well as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
A pelvic exam is a physical examination of the female reproductive organs. It can be performed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
A pelvic exam usually includes:
- A Pap test to screen for cervical cancer and other diseases of the cervix (the lower part of uterus that extends into the vagina)
- A bimanual examination to check for abnormalities in your uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes (tubes connecting ovaries to uterus)
HPV testing (if you’re over 30)
If you are over 30, it is recommended that you have an HPV test every 5 years. If this test comes back normal, then no further testing is required until your next scheduled exam. However, if the results show abnormal cells and/or signs of HPV infection (a virus that can cause genital warts), then additional tests may be needed to determine whether or not treatment is necessary.
If your doctor finds abnormal cells during your annual pelvic exam or Pap smear, he or she will recommend one of two things: either repeat the test in 6 months to see if there has been any change in them, or perform a colposcopy (which involves using magnification and dye) on those areas to see if there are any other issues present besides cervical cancer itself (such as precancerous growths).
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are a form of hormone therapy that your OBGYN may recommend. They work by preventing ovulation, which prevents you from getting pregnant.
Birth control pills can also be used to treat acne and irregular periods, but they’re not the same thing as emergency contraception (EC). EC is taken after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy; birth control pills use hormones to prevent ovulation before it happens.
There are several different ways you can take birth control pills depending on your needs:
- Once-daily – Most people take this kind of pill every day at the same time with no breaks between packets or packs (the number of days in a pack). This is called continuous use because there’s no need for backup protection when using these kinds of oral contraceptives (OCs).
- IUDs and implants are also effective for up to 10 years, but they’re a little more permanent than the pill. They can be used by people who have never given birth and those who have.
IUDs are small devices that are placed in your uterus by a doctor to prevent pregnancy. One type of IUD releases hormones into your body to stop ovulation; another kind contains copper, which makes sperm unable to fertilize an egg.*
Implants are thin rods that contain either progestin alone or progestin combined with estrogen (like the pill). They’re inserted into the arm muscle where they release these hormones slowly over 3 years.*
These Tools Can Help You Prevent Cervical Cancer
The OBGYN can help you with the following tools can help you prevent cervical cancer:
- Pap tests, also known as cervical cytology, are used to detect abnormal cells on the cervix. A sample of cells is collected and examined under a microscope by a doctor or nurse. If there are signs of abnormal cells, your doctor may recommend treatment.
- Pelvic exams are performed during your annual checkup by a gynecologist or other healthcare professional. The exam includes an internal inspection of your vagina and cervix with a speculum (an instrument that opens up the vagina), as well as taking samples from inside your uterus with an instrument called a pipelle if you’re over 30 years old. A pelvic exam can also include testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through testing fluid from inside your vagina and rectum; checking for lumps in breasts; listening for heart sounds; measuring blood pressure during pregnancy; performing breast self-exams when appropriate (for example: after age 20).
Factors to Consider When Seeking Gynecological Care
There are many things to consider when choosing an OB-GYN
- Experience. How long has the doctor been practicing? What is his or her track record of success?
- Competence. Is he or she board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and/or recognized by peers as being among the best in his field?
- Ability to communicate: The ability to communicate is often overlooked as a quality that is important in choosing an OB-GYN, but it’s one of the most crucial factors. If you’re uncomfortable talking about your health or body with your doctor, this can lead to problems down the road. A good OB GYN should be able to listen and respond sensitively when discussing any concerns you may have about pregnancy, childbirth, or postnatal care.
- Ability to listen: Another important factor when searching for an appropriate OB-GYN is whether or not they listen carefully when answering questions from patients–not just during appointments but also over the phone or via email after hours (if necessary). This applies not only when asking questions related specifically to pregnancy but also regarding general health issues such as allergies or medications taken regularly before becoming pregnant
- Interpersonal skills: Does your doctor listen carefully to what you have to say, answer all of your questions with patience and compassion, and make time for follow-up visits when necessary? The doctor’s interpersonal skills will play a big role in your decision. How do you feel about the doctor’s bedside manner? Does he or she communicate with you in a way that makes sense and helps to put your mind at ease? Does he or she listen to what you have to say, answer all of your questions, and make sure that everything is understood before moving forward with any treatment plan? Do you feel like the doctor has an understanding of who you are as an individual–your personality and preferences–and knows how best to communicate with those traits in mind (or does he/she seem like just another medical professional).
The last thing anyone wants when seeking out medical care is for their physician not only to know how best to treat them but also to make them feel comfortable during this process. Asking about these things upfront can help ensure that all parties involved know exactly where each other stands on various issues so there aren’t any misunderstandings later down the line
- Comfort level with patients (and vice versa). Do you feel at ease during appointments–or do you find yourself feeling nervous or uncomfortable when talking about sensitive medical issues with this person who will be playing such an important role in your life going forward
Taking control of your reproductive health is a crucial step towards leading a happy and fulfilling life. With the right information and expert care, obstetrics and gynecology services are here to help you every step of the way. So, don’t hesitate to seek out the care and support you deserve – your reproductive health is worth it!