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The Ultimate Gynecology Guide: Everything You Should Know

Not sure what a gynecologist does? Or what the difference is between an OB-GYN and a gynecologist? You’re not alone. From what an OB-GYN is, when you should visit one, and what to expect on your next visit, here’s everything you need to know about gynecology.

What Is a Gynecologist?


A gynecologist is a doctor that specializes in reproductive health with the training and certification to diagnose, treat, and prevent problems with the female reproductive system.


Gynecology is the overarching field of reproductive health that includes everything from puberty through adulthood. If you become pregnant, you’ll need to visit an obstetrician or OB-GYN.


What Is an OB-GYN?


An OB-GYN or an obstetrician-gynecologist, is a doctor who specializes in the health of the female reproductive organs, specifically the uterus and ovaries. OB-GYNs are both obstetrics and gynecologists and have a slightly broader scope than gynecologists. An OB-GYN is trained to manage your health during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.


What Does a Gynecologist Do?


A gynecologist can offer treatment and help with:


  • Pap smears
  • Menstruation problems
  • Ovarian cyst removal
  • Ectopic pregnancy treatment
  • Pregnancy planning and support
  • Uterine fibroids removal or treatment
  • Female sterilization (vasectomy) procedures
  • Menopause management, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Contraception advice and prescriptions, including emergency contraception


What Does an OB-GYN Do?


An OB-GYN, or an obstetrician-gynecologist, can conduct office visits, perform surgery, and manage your health during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.


An OB-GYN can perform the following procedures:


  • in vitro fertilization
  • vaginal delivery
  • cesarean delivery
  • amniocentesis to determine sex and detect any abnormalities
  • forceps and vacuum deliveries


An OB-GYN can also provide regular preventive tests and screenings, including:


  • pelvic exams
  • pap smears
  • clinical breast exams
  • mammographies
  • cancer screenings


Looking for a new OB-GYN? Find your perfect match with our free Healthcare Matching Tool!  


What Is the Difference Between a Gynecologist and an OB-GYN?


OB-GYNs are both obstetrics and gynecologists and have a slightly broader scope. Obstetrician-gynecologists can treat a wide range of female health problems using a combination of medication, therapy, and surgery.


At What Age Do You Start Seeing a Gynecologist?


As a general rule of thumb, most experts recommend scheduling your first gynecology visit between the ages of 13 and 15, or as soon as you start menstruating. This can be a good time to ask questions and learn what's normal so you're equipped to notice any changes to your body in the future. Your gynecologist will help you understand things like when your period will start and stop, how much bleeding is too much during menstruation, why painful cramps might be happening, and more.


You should see a gynecologist if you have questions or concerns about your reproductive health.


Do I Need to See a Gynecologist if I’m Not Sexually Active or Still a Virgin?  


Yes, you can still benefit from seeing a gynecologist. Your gynecologist can help you learn more about your reproductive health and body, and answer any questions you may have or may be too embarrassed to ask your primary physician.


If I’ve Had a Hysterectomy or My Ovaries Have Been Removed, Should I Still See a Gynecologist?


It’s recommended that you continue to see a gynecologist annually. Your doctor will take this opportunity to assess your health and test your hormone levels.


What Happens if You Never Go to the Gynecologist?


The care you receive by a gynecologist is important for many reasons. Your gynecologist has the expertise to diagnose, treat, and manage conditions that affect your reproductive health. Your gynecologist can also perform routine screenings for STDs and breast cancer, monitor your menstrual health, help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms like heavy periods or pelvic pain, and provide contraception counseling.


Don’t Be Afraid of Going to the Gynecologist


You should see a gynecologist annually and if you have questions or concerns about your reproductive health, if you’re experiencing irregular periods or severe cramps, or if you suspect you have an infection you should schedule an appointment immediately.


Have You Visited The Health Hub for Women & People with a Vagina?


The POV vets the next generation of healthcare services so you don't have to. We're building a community dedicated to helping each other navigate the world of healthcare.


Already scheduled your next gyno visit? Here are some questions we think you should ask your gynecologist.


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