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Should I see an obstetrician or a gynecologist?

Posted 07/17/2017

Women’s health is a wonderful, yet too often intimidating subject! However, unlike other specialties of medicine, gynecology and obstetrics cover a wide array of needs over the years, reflecting where a woman is in her life and changing accordingly. Your medical needs as a female will transform as you develop into a young woman through puberty, become intimate with a partner, grow your family, and retire through menopause.

Each of these changes are a beautiful moment in your life, but also a challenging one. What works for you at one point will not be applicable to another. That is why, when it comes to your health as a woman, you need a skilled, caring support system.

Do you understand the difference between a gynecologist and an obstetrician? If not, don’t worry! The two are similarly focused on women’s health, often getting lumped together. Nevertheless, you are your greatest advocate. At the Institute for Women’s Health, we want to empower you with the knowledge that you need to make informed choices about your well-being.

Gynecology

Gynecology is a branch of medicine that is focused on women’s health maintenance and treatment of diseases. It deals primarily –  but not exclusively – with the reproductive organs.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that teenage girls begin visiting a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15. The idea of bringing a 13-year-old to a gynecologist sits funny in many parent’s ears. This is because there is an unfortunate mistaken belief that gynecological visits are exclusively pap smears and pelvic exams. That is not the case! As long as they are healthy and asymptomatic, teenage girls do not need to have a pelvic exam. Rather, they will receive a routine health exam, along with a discussion of her development.

The focus in early gynecological visits is education. Puberty is a trying time, even when it goes well. A gynecologist can teach teenagers on how to recognize the difference between what is an awkward symptom of puberty and what is a symptom of a legitimate medical condition. Additionally, by building up a rapport early, a young woman can feel safe trusting her gynecologist understands her and her medical history.

Preventative Healthcare

Preventing an illness or injury is much easier than treating it. Also, the outcomes of treatments for many conditions are vastly improved by treating them early. As such, gynecologists’ preventative care treatments can make a large impact on a women’s long-term health.

Some of these services include:

  • Contraceptives
  • Sexually transmitted infection testing
  • Breast examination
  • Mammograms
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Osteoporosis screening for women ages 50 and up

Annual Exam

Every year, women who are over the age of 18 and/or those who are sexually active need to receive a gynecological exam. At the Institute for Women’s Health, we provide a “well-woman exam” as part of our gynecological services. A well-woman exam includes the following:

  • Pelvic examination
  • Pap smear test
  • Breast exam
  • Education literature

Gynecological Surgeries

Preventative healthcare can stop some problems from developing. However, in other cases, its goal is to give you the best chance for recovery possible through early detection. Sometimes, surgery is necessary.

Some gynecological surgeries include:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Oophorectomy
  • Colposcopy
  • Endometrial biopsy
  • Endometrial ablation
  • Myomectomy
  • Transvaginal/transobturator taping

Obstetrics

Unlike gynecologists, obstetricians are focused entirely around childbirth. These procedures directly impact the mother, but they indirectly impact the child as well.

Obstetric Services

Obstetric care happens before, during, and after pregnancy. Both the mother and child have a lot of needs, which change depending how far along the pregnancy is.

Obstetric services include:

  • Family planning
  • Non-stress testing
  • Gestational diabetes screening
  • Ultrasound
  • Fetal heart monitoring
  • High risk pregnancy care
  • Pre-eclampsia, eclampsia treatment
  • Cesarean section
  • Postpartum mood assessment
  • Breastfeeding counseling

Maternal Mortality

When families in San Antonio find out they are pregnant, they plan for the birth with the expectation that both the mother and the child will be okay. In this day and age, obstetricians have the knowledge and equipment to care for mothers and children who, even a decade ago, would have been in serious jeopardy.

Nevertheless, the risks should not be forgotten. Pregnancy is an incredibly difficult process for your body! Pregnancy and pregnancy-related ailments can be life-threatening. A recent study in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at the maternal mortality rates in the United States. “Maternal mortality” is defined as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes.”

Texas had 35.8 deaths per 100,000 births in 2014. This is the highest maternal mortality rate in not just the United States, but the entire developed world.

Gritting and bearing it simply doesn’t cut it! You deserve a happy, comfortable pregnancy – as well as a bouncing bundle of joy. Teaming up with an excellent obstetrician gives you the best chance to make this happen.

OBGYN

“Obstetrics” is sometimes shorted to simply “OB.” Similarly, gynecology can be abbreviated to “GYN.” Given this, it should be no surprise that an OB/GYN is a gynecologist who also delivers babies.

Institute for Women’s Health

The largest OB/GYN and fertility practice in San Antonio, Texas is the Institute for Women’s Health. With 8 medical offices across the city, our mission is to provide exceptional women’s healthcare in an inviting, patient-centric environment which incorporates innovative technology and employs caring physicians and staff through a cultivated team approach for a lifetime of care.

Our team of specialists can help you with your gynecological and/or obstetric needs. Make an appointment now by calling (210) 349-6626 or submitting a form at our contact us page.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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