Gynecology and obstetrics, also often referred to as OB/GYN, are often thought of as the same thing, but these are actually two specialties in the medical field. Both center around women and, more specifically, care for women’s reproductive health, but there are distinct differences between gynecology and obstetrics.
It’s essential for women to know the difference between these two specialties so they will know when to see an obstetrician and gynecologist for specific conditions and issues. We put together the following information to help everyone answer these questions.
Obstetrics is focused on the care for women’s reproductive health when dealing with all aspects of pregnancy, from prenatal to postnatal care. Obstetricians help people have a healthy pregnancy in addition to delivering babies, and if your baby is premature, they will provide you with guidance in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). You would also refer to an obstetrician when you are seeking fertility treatments or fetal diagnostic tests.
Since these physicians deliver babies as part of their field of expertise, obstetricians handle pregnancy complications, such as:
- Delivery through Cesarean sections
- Ectopic pregnancy, where the fetus grows outside of the uterus
- Pre-eclampsia, often a precursor for high blood pressure
- Fetal distress, where the fetus may not be doing well before and during labor
- Placenta issues
As briefly mentioned, you will also see an obstetrician if you are experiencing any postnatal care issues like postpartum depression.
Gynecology is also health care for women’s reproductive health, but it focuses more on the reproductive systems from a woman’s first period to post-menopause. Any conditions that affect the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or vagina will be examined and diagnosed by a gynecologist. They will handle preventative care screenings like breast exams, pap smears, and pelvic exams.
Gynecology also covers sexual health for women, and this includes advising on responsible sexual practices, birth control contraceptives, and protection against sexually transmitted diseases. This means you can go to them for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to protect yourself against cancer-causing HPV. They will also perform hysterectomies and tubal litigations as needed.
When to See Which Specialist
Obstetricians will handle any pregnancy issues before, during, and after childbirth. You will see these physicians when you need:
- Prenatal screenings, exams, and lab tests
- Evaluations of your baby’s size, growth, and position in your uterus
- Identification of any congenital anomalies or potential complications in maternal-fetal medicine
- Treatment for any health conditions that could affect your pregnancy or baby’s health
- Labor and delivery management, including labor inductions, emergency procedures, and medications
- Postpartum care for up to six weeks after childbirth
Gynecologists will handle any non-pregnancy-related issues that concern women’s reproductive health. A gynecologist can diagnose and treat issues like:
- Irregular menstruation
- Vaginal infections
- Conditions that cause pain during intercourse
- Reproductive system cancers
- Prolapsed pelvic organs
- Cervical and vaginal polyps
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine fibroids
Your Life. Your Health. Our Purpose.
The reason many don’t know what the differences are between gynecology and obstetrics is that many physicians train in both specializations to offer comprehensive care for all of their patients’ needs. Since they specialize in both fields, they are referred to as OB/GYNs. So, you may not need to go to a separate clinic, but be sure to always ask questions to your health center’s front desk and physician about what you need.
Texas Center for Health is happy to offer you comprehensive care for women’s reproductive health if you are in the Beaumont or Houston communities. We provide personalized care for you, whether you are currently or planning to be pregnant and need our obstetric services or need to consult with our gynecology services for your reproductive health. Our medical staff would be honored to help you live a happy and healthy life, and we will happily guide you in addressing any health concerns you may have.