When it comes to seeing a doctor for female needs, you will come across two specialties, obstetrics and gynecology. Many practices and doctors have these combined specialties and are known as OB/GYNs. Even though they practice together and take care of female needs, what is the difference between an obstetrician and a gynecologist?
Obstetrics is a subspecialty of gynecology services. The main difference between obstetrics and gynecology is that an obstetrician takes care of pregnant women in the pre and postnatal timeframe in obstetrics. Obstetricians must know surgery and be able to do everything a gynecologist can do.
In addition to being an obstetrician and gynecologist, there are additional subspecialties for each. Obstetricians go through additional training to gain knowledge and experience to become experts in their field. Even if you aren’t pregnant or don’t plan on becoming pregnant, you can still see an obstetrician for your gynecological needs.
What is Different Between an Obstetrician and Gynecologist?
Even though obstetricians can provide the same tests and procedures as a gynecologist, it’s important to know the differences between the two. Not all gynecologists practice obstetrics. This will help you build your rapport with your doctor over the years to come.
|Takes care of women during the prenatal and postnatal periods.||Takes care of girls and women of all ages for gynecological needs, but not pregnancy-related needs.|
|Is trained to take care of any pregnancy-related issues and can be a starting point for fertility issues if they aren’t specialized in fertility.||Can take care of any issues regarding the female reproductive system.|
|Can perform a cesarean if needed. Additionally, any surgeries or procedures are needed if there is a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.||Provides surgeries such as hysterectomies and more related to the female reproductive system.|
|Monitors and ensures the fetus is growing appropriately. Can take care of any issues or refer to a further specialized obstetrician.||Provides guidance for sexual health and birth control.|
Once a woman becomes pregnant, her gynecologist can confirm the pregnancy. If her gynecologist doesn’t practice obstetrics, she will be referred to a trusted obstetrician for her prenatal and postnatal care. Many times this obstetrician will be in the same practice. She can do so if the woman wants to return to her gynecologist postnatally.
What is Similar Between Obstetricians and Gynecologists?
Since obstetricians need to be gynecologists in order to practice, there are many similarities in the conditions tested for and treated that both can do. Even if you aren’t pregnant or don’t plan on becoming pregnant, you can see an obstetrician.
Some of the similarities obstetricians and gynecologists have are:
- Able to provide routine gynecological care, such as pap smears and breast exams.
- Can treat any infections regarding the female reproductive system, including yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Can diagnose and monitor diseases and syndromes through the female reproductive system, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
What Procedures Can a Gynecologist Provide?
Gynecologists at women’s hospital mountain view can provide many procedures and surgeries to women who need them. All of these surgeries are within the spectrum of the women’s reproductive system, even if the surgery isn’t for reproduction. Some procedures and surgeries gynecologists can provide are:
|Pap smear, colposcopy, cone biopsy, cryotherapy.||Tubal ligation (permanent birth control)|
|Dilation and curettage (D&C).||Hysterectomy (removing the uterus), oophorectomy (removing the ovaries), salpingectomy (removing the fallopian tubes).|
|Endometrial ablation.||Vaginal reconstruction.|
|Removal of fibroids, myomas, and polyps.|
Vaginal reconstruction or rejuvenation has been becoming more popular over recent years. Many women have been undergoing vaginal reconstruction for a variety of reasons, from reducing pain, increasing function, and improving the overall appearance of the vaginal area.
Either a gynecologist or an obstetrician could perform vaginal reconstruction after childbirth if the woman experienced trauma or vaginal wall prolapse during or after delivery.
What Other Subspecialties can a Gynecologist Have?
Obstetrics is only one subspecialty that gynecologists can specialize in. Many gynecologists choose to pursue other subspecialties such as urogynecology, reconstructive surgery, reproductive health and fertility, maternal-fetal medicine, and many more. Within these subspecialties, there are many more procedures that a gynecologist can provide.
Some of the other procedures gynecologists with other subspecialties can provide are:
- Vaginal reconstruction (plastic surgery)
- Anal sphincter repair and bladder prolapse repair (urogynecology)
- Lymph node removal and other gynecological cancer care (gynecological oncologist)
- Remove uterine fibroids and clear blocked fallopian tubes (fertility specialists and reproductive endocrinologists)
Not all gynecologists are obstetricians, but all obstetricians are gynecologists. They both can provide overlapping care and procedures. Additionally, they can have more specific subspecialties to provide more accurate care. Even though not all gynecologists cannot provide obstetrical care, they will always be able to help you find an obstetrician who can help.