What is a Gynecologist (OBGYN)?

Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in women’s health, with a focus on the female reproductive system.

They deal with a wide range of is obstetrics, pregnancy and childbirth, menstruation and fertility issues, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hormone disorders, and others.

In the United States, some women prefer to visit a well-woman clinic rather than a family doctor for general health issues. The gynecologist may then refer the patient to another specialist.

A qualified gynecologist has at least 8 years of training and should be certified by an examining body, such as the American Board of Gynecologists (ABOG) and registered by a professional organization, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Fast facts about gynecologists:

Here are some critical points about gynecologists. More detail is in the main article.

  • A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the health of the female organs.
  • Many women start visiting a gynecologist from their early teens and continue attending a well-woman clinic for general health issues.
  • Women are advised to visit a gynecologist annually for a checkup and any time they have symptoms that concern them.
  • A gynecologist should be certified and registered with a professional body, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

What is a gynecologist?

What is a Gynecologist (OBGYN)? gynecologists specialize in women s health issues
Gynecologists specialize in women’s health issues.

A gynecologist treats patients with female reproductive organs, whether or not they identify as women. An obstetrician is a kind of gynecologist who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth.

To become a gynecologist, a person must train first as a doctor for four years, then specialize for another four years in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. Passing a further examination will enable them to be certified and registered.

In May 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 19,800 obstetricians and gynecologists were employed in the U.S, earning an average of $234,310, or $112.65 an hour.

When to see one

A visit to the gynecologist is recommended for annual screening and any time a woman has concerns about symptoms such as pelvic, vulvar, and vaginal pain or abnormal bleeding from the uterus.

Conditions commonly treated by gynecologists include:

  • issues relating to pregnancy, fertility, menstruation, and menopause
  • family planning, including contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination
  • problems with tissues that support the pelvic organs, including ligaments and muscles
  • STIs
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • urinary and fecal incontinence
  • benign conditions of the reproductive tract, for example, ovarian cystsfibroids, breast disorders, vulvar and vaginal ulcers, and other non-cancerous changes
  • premalignant conditions, such as endometrial hyperplasia and cervical dysplasia
  • cancers of the reproductive tract and the breasts, and pregnancy-related tumors
  • congenital abnormalities of the female reproductive tract
  • emergency care relating to gynecology
  • endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects the reproductive system
  • pelvic inflammatory diseases, including abscesses
  • sexuality, including health issues relating to same-sex and bisexual relationships
  • sexual dysfunction

Gynecologists in the U.S. frequently offer gynecological and general health care, including preventive medicine for women and diagnosis and treatment of issues such as headaches, low back pain, mood changes, and acne.

They may also treat:

  • asthma
  • psychiatric conditions such as depression and personality disorders
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • thyroid disorders and other hormonal issues
  • domestic violence and sexual assault
  • osteoporosis

Preventive medicine may include lifestyle advice about issues such as smoking cessation and weight loss.

At what age can I see a gynecologist?

A gynecologist can treat a girl or a woman at any age. ACOG recommends starting to visit a gynecologist from the age of 13 to 15 years.

Building up a relationship with the doctor enables a girl or woman to be more comfortable asking questions about menstruation, sexuality, etc. It provides a point of contact if symptoms occur in the future.

It also gives the doctor a chance to guide a woman’s overall welfare in the long term through counseling on important health and lifestyle issues.

What to expect

What happens at the gynecologist’s depends on the reason for the visit and the individual’s situation.

If it is a young woman’s first visit, she may just chat with the doctor, get some general health information, and find out what to expect in the future.

At any visit with the gynecologist, it is worth remembering:

  • An honest account of your health concerns and lifestyle gives the gynecologist a better idea of your situation and enables them to help you more.
  • A gynecological examination may be uncomfortable, including a pap smear, but it is not usually painful.
  • It is not necessary to wax or shave before the visit.
  • Bodily odor is natural. If it indicates a problem, the gynecologist needs to know.
  • If you have a period when the appointment is scheduled, you can still go ahead with the visit, but it may be better to postpone unless you have symptoms that need urgent attention.
  • It is best to avoid sexual activity, use a vaginal douche, or use tampons for two days before a gynecological examination.

A patient can ask to have someone with them at the visit, either in the room or outside the door.

Screening

The ACOG recommends visiting a gynecologist at least once a year for an annual checkup.

This will include:

  • screening, evaluation, and advice
  • immunizations based on age and risk factors
  • a physical examination, which will include measuring standard vital signs, body mass index, palpating the abdomen and inguinal lymph nodes, and assessing overall health
  • a pelvic examination and a breast examination, as appropriate for the patient’s age

You may have to give a blood or urine sample for a screening test.

Regular visits to a well-woman clinic enable the individual to keep up to date on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing health risks at each age.

Other yearly health assessments can include mammography, colonoscopy, blood pressure monitoring, immunizations, and calcium and folic acid intake advice.

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