To understand the difference between an OB/GYN physician and a gynecologist, one must know that both encompasses two separate medical specialties. Women see an OB/GYN provider for their health needs, including pregnancy and menopause management, while seeking an obstetrician has its own set of requirements. Although both gynecologists and OB/GYNs are medical doctors in women’s health, the scope of practice for these two careers differs considerably.
For example, a gynecologist is a doctor whose focus is on the routine care of the female reproductive system, including treating diseases and disorders specific to women. An OB/GYN, on the other hand, is a practitioner in both obstetrics and gynecology. Because of the addition of obstetrics in an OB/GYN’s practice, these doctors are also specially trained to work with pregnant and postpartum women, aiding in prenatal care, child delivery, and recovery after childbirth. You need to identify first which specialist you need before finding the nearest doctor in the Houston area.
Here’s a closer look at the differences between the two and their job responsibilities:
An OB/GYN Specialist
An obstetrician specializes in the care of a pregnant woman and her unborn child. They are trained to handle potential complications or situations that may happen during pregnancy and during the birthing process, including:
- Ectopic pregnancy – A kind of pregnancy wherein the fetus develops outside of the uterus
- Fetal distress – Signs before & during birth that may show signs that the fetus is not be doing well
- Placenta issues
- High blood pressure – often leads to preeclampsia
- Cesarean section
- Provides patients with prenatal care
- Assisting women with family planning
- Helping women get through the postpartum depressions
- Conducting regular routinary procedure for women’s health such as mammograms, vaginal examinations
OB/GYN’s are trained to work with patients of all ages, although they tend to work mostly with women of childbearing age, including those who are currently or have recently been pregnant. For the gynecological side of treatment, these practitioners can provide their patients with the preventative care and remedies essential to their reproductive health, including pap smears, breast exams, and managing sexually transmitted infections. OB/GYNs are responsible for ensuring the continued health of their patients – through pregnancy and childbirth. This would include performing ultrasounds and genetic screenings, conducting routine check-ups to ensure that the pregnancy is progressing as it should, and aid women through both vaginal and cesarean deliveries.
Due to the OB/GYNs’ essential role in their patients’ labor and delivery, this career can often involve demanding–and sometimes erratic–hours for its practitioners. An obstetrician also guides a mother safely through the entire experience from conception to delivery to the postpartum period. A Houston OB/GYN offers services that include fertility treatment, fetal diagnostic procedures, and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
A gynecologist’s focus is on the non-pregnancy aspects of a woman’s reproductive health. When women become sexually active or are at the onset of puberty, seeing a gynecologist is often needed. Once a woman has a trustworthy physician who understands their unique requirements, she will visit her gynecologist through menopause and beyond.
Regular checkups are essential for a woman’s health, as a gynecologist’s primary specialty is the maintenance of a woman’s reproductive health. These practitioners are responsible for conducting regular check-ups on their patients, taking into account a woman’s age and genetic risk factors that may affect the continued reproductive well-being of the patient they are caring for over the years. A gynecologist may also administer medications and treatment plans to deal with various women’s health issues, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, breast abnormalities, and fertility concerns.
Gynecologists are taught to recognize the signs of potentially significant women’s health problems, such as breast and cervical cancer. They can guide their patients to seek out care plans for these diseases in their early stages. Since a gynecologists’ focus is primarily on health maintenance, these practitioners may be afforded a greater degree of flexibility in their hours and work environment than those in other areas of women’s health.
The basic responsibilities of a gynecologist include:
- Advocating for women’s health & safety
- Performing genetic screenings to identify risk factors for reproductive health concerns
- Performing bone density assessments to check osteoporosis
- Educating patients on safe sex practices
- Ensuring women’s reproductive & overall well-being through gender-specific medical care
In addition to the above, practitioners specializing in gynecology perform standard examinations, such as Pap tests and pelvic exams. Gynecologists may also be seen for diagnosis and treatment of a variety of conditions that encapsulates more severe emergencies, including those below:
- Cancer of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina, or fallopian tubes
- Prolapse – A condition, often after menopause, wherein the pelvic organs slip forward or downward within the body
- Yeast or bacterial infections
- Endometriosis – A harrowing condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus
- Cervical and vaginal polyps
- Fibroids – Compact tumors that develop in the uterus
- Ovarian cysts
- Painful intercourse
- Irregular menstruation or pain during menstruation.
- Other menopause-related diseases
But that’s not all. A gynecologist performs surgical procedures on reproductive organs, such as a hysterectomy, tubal ligation, and labiaplasty. It’s worth noting that many practices of a Houston OB/GYN choose to combine the obstetrician and gynecologist specialties to provide more comprehensive women’s care.
To Wrap Up
Both an OB/GYN and a gynecologist play a vital role in the overall healthcare of women. The practitioners in these two separate fields administer comprehensive treatments and preventative care for women’s reproductive health concerns, and, in doing so, promote the reproductive and all-embracing well-being of their patients. It’s important to recognize that despite this shared mission, there are a number of key differences between the roles played by gynecologists and OB/GYNs within the medical community.
It’s also vital to understand the cues of a woman’s body when something isn’t right and needs to be addressed by either type of practitioner. Focusing on the maintenance of a woman’s health through pregnancy and childbirth, and the broader spectrum of routine health and care for a woman throughout her years is significant with an OB/GYN and a gynecologist. The key is to understand why you need either profession and to go into your initial examination with a willingness and a reason for seeking expert care.