Primary care doctors and general practitioners provide care to both men and women and deal with various ailments. However, some physicians primarily deal with women’s health issues. An OB/GYN doctor helps women with everything from cervical health to childbirth. What is an OB/GYN? What does an OB/GYN do?

What Is an OB/GYN?

An OB/GYN doctor handles two fields of female health problems: obstetrics and gynecology. As a result, an obstetrician and gynecologist will work with pregnant women and women looking to get assistance for menstrual issues. There are a wide variety of tests and exams that an OB/GYN can perform to ensure your health. Reasons why you might schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN include:

  • Pelvic exam to detect any STIs, unusual growths, menstrual disorders, or abnormal discharge
  • Irregular periodsBirth control
  • Breast exam
  • Pap smear to look for signs of cervical cancer
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Changes in discharge
  • Incontinence or other urinary problems
  • Fertility challenges
  • Being pregnant
  • Postpartum issues

If you are wondering, “What is an OB/GYN?” and whether you should visit one instead of your primary doctor, you should consider the issues you notice and if they are exclusive to women’s health. Chances are, if you are concerned about sexual health or vaginal health, the obstetrician and gynecologist can assist you. Although, it is good practice to check in with your primary care physician first and see if they can refer you to an OB/GYN within your network.

What Does an OB/GYN Do?

If you are wondering, “What does an OB/GYN do?” it is important to remember that they deal with all aspects of women’s health. An OB/GYN doctor can take care of anything from performing a Pap smear to ensuring that you do not have cervical cancer to helping you recover after childbirth. When you visit the obstetrician and gynecologist, you can take advantage of both types of services or just one, depending on your needs.

Your OB/GYN doctor can provide prenatal care and ensure that you stay safe and healthy throughout your pregnancy. The obstetrics portion of gynecology can take care of the following:

  • Evaluating the size and growth progress of a fetus
  • Prenatal screenings and tests
  • Detecting potential complications or anomalies in the mother’s health or the baby’s health
  • Performing ultrasounds and other types of tests to ensure the health of the baby and mother
  • Handling the labor and delivery process
  • Offering postpartum care
  • Diagnosing and treating conditions that can affect women during and immediately after pregnancy, including gestational diabetes and postpartum depression

When Should You See an OB/GYN?

Now that you know the answers to “What is an OB/GYN?” and “What does an OB/GYN do?” you might be interested in scheduling an appointment with an obstetrician and gynecologist. When should you consider visiting this type of doctor?

  • You have started your menstrual cycle
  • You believe that you might be pregnant
  • You are planning on getting pregnant
  • You are sexually active
  • You have pain during sexual intercourse
  • You experience burning or pain when urinating
  • You are curious about a particular aspect of your sexual or reproductive health
  • You need to obtain STD testing
  • You suspect you have experienced a miscarriage

OB/GYN doctors can handle many women’s health concerns beyond what is listed above. Even if you have not experienced any specific issues, visiting your OB/GYN every year for a wellness visit and general check-up is a good idea. Preventative care can help to avoid future complications.

Should You See a Family Doctor or OB/GYN?

If you are experiencing a chronic health condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes, your primary care doctor will be able to assist you the best. Additionally, primary care doctors can help with general health concerns, acute problems that require assistance, like upper respiratory infections or ear infections, and injuries.

Your OB/GYN should be consulted if your chronic or acute issues pertain to the reproductive system or your gynecological health. Additionally, your obstetrician or gynecologist will be the best one to answer specific questions about women’s health and the reproductive system, including contraception and fertility.

What Happens During a Visit to the OB/GYN?

It can be very intimidating if you have never been to the OB/GYN. Generally, it is good measure to have your first visit to the OB/GYN when you are between 13 to 15 years old, at the age when young girls are starting menstruation. In many cases, this visit will not involve an exam.

If you are visiting the OB/GYN, it is a good idea to abstain from sexual activity for 24 hours before your appointment time. If you have intercourse before your appointment, it can distort the results of your Pap smear or irritate your tissue and lead to a pelvic exam with mixed results.

Your appointment will begin with an overall health checkup. You will have your blood pressure taken, be weighed, and you might also be asked to take a blood or urine test. During the physical exam, you will wear a gown that opens in the front and be given a sheet to put on your lap.

Your OB/GYN will examine the exterior of the vagina, your reproductive organs on the inside, and the walls of your vagina. You will be placed into stirrups to allow your doctor to see and feel everything properly. Additionally, a speculum will be placed in the vagina to enable the doctor to view the cervix properly. Depending on your sexual activity or concerns, STD tests and Pap smears can be performed during your visit.

You can also expect to be asked several questions concerning your overall health and reproductive health. It is a good idea to write down the date of your last period, along with information about your recent sexual activity, vaccine history, current birth control prescriptions, and anything else that may be relevant. This can help the OB/GYN formulate a baseline of your overall gynecological health.

Find the Perfect OB/GYN with TopLine MD Alliance

A trusted OB/GYN can assist you in navigating all of life’s stages and help monitor your reproductive health now and in the future.

To schedule your appointment today or locate a TopLine Alliance affiliated OB/GYN in your area, click the ‘Find a Provider’ button at the top, right corner of this page.

The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.