Health Care Providers: Obstetricians & Gynecologists
What Is Obstetrics & Gynecology?
Obstetrics (ahb-STEH-triks) & gynecology (guy-nuh-KAHL-uh-jee) is the area of medicine that treats conditions and problems related to female reproductive health. It is one medical field, with two specialty areas:
- Obstetrics is medical care before and during pregnancy, childbirth, and right after a baby is born.
- Gynecology is medical care of all female health issues.
What Is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist?
An obstetrician-gynecologist (ahb-steh-TRIH-shun guy-nuh-KOL-uh-jist), often called an OB-GYN, is a doctor who specializes in female health before, during, and after the childbearing years.
- Gynecologists specialize in female reproductive health.
- Obstetricians give care during and after pregnancy and deliver babies.
- OB-GYNs provide medical care in both areas.
After medical training in both obstetrics and gynecology, a doctor may focus on just one field or practice both as an OB-GYN.
Why Would Someone Need One?
Obstetrician-gynecologists provide care for:
- early puberty or delayed puberty
- eating disorders
- gender and sexuality concerns
- menstrual problems (irregular, absent, painful, or heavy periods)
- ovarian cysts and pelvic masses
- yeast infections
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- puberty concerns
- vaginal or uterine abnormalities
- give birth control counseling and care
- put in or remove an IUD
- give the HPV vaccine
- do gynecology surgical services
- do pregnancy testing, diagnosis, and referrals for services
- do rapid HIV testing
- offer sexuality/reproduction health education and adolescent sexual health counseling (including for kids and teens with special needs)
What Is Their Training?
Obstetrician-gynecologist training includes:
- 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
- 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
- 4 years of training in an obstetrics and gynecology residency
They also might have:
- expertise in a subspecialty area (for example, pediatric obstetrics-gynecology) from training in a fellowship program. A “fellow” is a doctor who undergoes more specialty training after completing medical school and residency training.
Good to Know
A women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is another good option for this kind of care. A WHNP is an advanced-practice nurse who focuses on reproductive, obstetric, and gynecological health. They can do exams, diagnose conditions, prescribe medicines (including birth control), create a treatment plan, and provide counseling.