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Obstetrician gynecologist examines pregnant patient at Beaumont

Difference Between Obstetricians and Gynecologists

An obstetrician cares for women who are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, or who have recently delivered a child. A gynecologist specializes in preventing problems in the female reproductive system and diagnosing and treating conditions if they do occur.

Most doctors who specialize in obstetrics also specialize in gynecology, but there are some doctors who choose to only practice one specialty or the other.

What is an OB-GYN and What Do They Do?

OB-GYN is short for obstetrician-gynecologist. An OB-GYN is both an obstetrician and a gynecologist. In other words, an OB-GYN is a doctor who specializes in both the female reproductive system and in caring for women during pregnancy, labor and delivery. 

OB-GYNs manage all aspects of reproductive health for women. They perform well-woman, preventive exams, counsel women about birth control and pregnancy, screen for gynecologic cancers (such as cervical and ovarian cancer), perform procedures and prescribe treatment to address conditions, like cervical dysplasia, sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, uterine fibroids, and more.

Routine Checkups and Well-Woman Visits

Experts recommend that most women have routine checkups with their OB-GYN every year, but some women may need to go more often, and some women may be able to wait two or three years between well-women visits. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.

At your annual exam, you can expect the following:

  • Your doctor may talk with you about any concerns you have and will ask you whether you’ve noticed any changes.
  • Your doctor may ask you whether you might be pregnant or if you are considering having a baby.
  • Your doctor will perform a breast exam and may remind you to have your annual mammogram. If your doctor finds any abnormalities, he or she may recommend a diagnostic mammogram or other tests, like a breast ultrasound or a breast MRI.
  • Your doctor will do a pelvic exam and may do a Pap test to check for signs of cervical cancer.

During pregnancy, you will have many routine checkups to evaluate your health and the health of your baby. Those checkups should start as soon as you know you are pregnant and should continue with regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy. Your visit schedule will depend upon the risk level of you and your baby, your age, and your general health. Talk with your doctor about how often you should schedule prenatal visits and testing.

What Conditions Does an OB-GYN Treat?

Some of the more common conditions OB-GYNs treat are:

  • pregnancy-related conditions, such as:
    • gestational diabetes
    • pre-eclampsia 
    • vaginal bleeding
    • excessive vomiting
  • sexually transmitted infections
    • HPV (including genital warts)
    • HIV
    • chlamydia 
    • gonorrhea
    • syphilis
  • precancerous conditions, such as cervical dysplasia
  • gynecologic cancers
  • ovarian cancer
  • uterine cancer/endometrial cancer
  • vaginal cancer
  • vulvar cancer
  • breast cancer
  • uterine fibroids
  • breast lumps and cysts
  • fibrocystic breast changes
  • menstrual irregularities
  • pelvic pain
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • vaginal infections
  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • uterine abnormalities
  • endometriosis
  • ovarian cysts and polyps
  • missed periods (amenorrhea)
  • congenital abnormalities
  • dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • endometrial cysts
  • endometrial hyperplasia
  • hormone disorders
  • incontinence
  • infertility
  • interstitial cystitis
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • toxic shock syndrome
  • premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • prolapse
  • vaginitis and vulvitis

Some of these treatments may be best treated by specialists, such as urogynecologists, perinatologists, reproductive endocrinologists, or gynecologic oncologists. We work with these specialists regularly to ensure every woman we treat receives the best, most effective care for her needs.

What Types of Treatments Do OB-GYNs Offer?

OB-GYNs at Beaumont offer a wide range of tests and treatments for women. Some of those treatments are:

  • partial and total hysterectomies
  • D&C (dilation and curettage)
  • menopause management
  • infertility evaluation and referral to a reproductive endocrinologist
  • VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)
  • cesarean section
  • laparoscopy and laser surgery
  • tubal ligation
  • IUD implantation

We also offer pre-conception and contraception counseling for women who wish to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy.

When Should You See an OB-GYN?

Every woman should see an OB-GYN every year for a routine checkup, including a pelvic exam, breast exam and mammogram. Women and teens who are sexually active should see an OB-GYN when sexual activity begins. Women who are not and have not been sexually active should have their first exam by their 21st birthday. If women have reached 70 with a history of normal Pap smears and they haven’t had any new sexual partners, they can most likely stop having annual exams.

There are other reasons to make an appointment with an OB-GYN. Some of those reasons are:

  • changes in your period
    • heavier than normal periods
    • irregular periods
    • your period has stopped
  • menopause
  • pain or discomfort
  • irregular or unexplained vaginal bleeding, including bleeding during or after intercourse
  • abnormal vaginal discharge or vaginal odor
  • lumps, bumps, or irritation in or around the vagina
  • breast lumps or changes
  • signs or symptoms of pregnancy
  • suspected pregnancy or a positive pregnancy test
  • when you are considering pregnancy
  • when you want to avoid conception
  • when you have any concerns about your reproductive health

Make an Appointment with a Beaumont OB-GYN

Beaumont has OB-GYN offices in cities throughout metro Detroit. We also offer specialty centers, such as maternal-fetal medicine and a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Clinic.

To make an appointment with a Beaumont OB-GYN or to get a referral to a specialist, please contact us at 800-633-7377.