Many women are familiar with OB/GYNs, but what is a Gynecologist, and how is it different?
What Is A Gynecologist?
A Gynecologist is a doctor that specializes in women’s health, especially as it relates to reproductive organs. Obstetricians are doctors that are specialized in caring for pregnant women. While the two fields are separate, many Gynecologists specialize in both, which is why you often see OB/GYN listed as it’s own specialty.
What Conditions Do Gynecologists Treat?
Gynecologists can treat any issue that relates to a woman’s reproductive organs, but also treats women’s general health issues as well. Some of the things that gynecologists may treat include the following:
- Pregnancy (if specialized in obstetrics)
- Cancers (such as HPV breast, or ovarian cancer)
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Bladder issues, including incontinence
- Menopause symptoms
How Often Should I See A Gynecologist?
Women should see their gynecologist once a year for regular exams, but visits may be more frequent if they are experiencing problems, or if they are pregnant. This goes for women at any age from teens to older women.
But I’ve Already Gone Through Menopause. Do I Really Still Have To See A Gynecologist?
Yes! In fact, regular screenings are just as important now as they were when you were younger. You should also still receive pelvic exams – even if you’re not getting a Pap smear – to check for things like sexually transmitted diseases, and any signs of cancer. In addition, incontinence or prolapse can also be big concerns as women get older. Don’t just assume that these are a normal part of aging and that nothing can be done. Your gynecologist can work with you to develop a treatment plan for these conditions, and recommend surgery if it is needed and desired.
What To Expect At Your Gynecologist Visit
At your first visit, your gynecologist will want to get your medical history, and will likely do a pelvic examination. He or she may also do a breast check, to check for any unusual lumps. If they don’t instruct you how to do your own, ask them. Women should perform regular checks for breast lumps on their own outside of their yearly exams so they know what is normal, and can recognize when something seems unusual.
After that, your yearly exams will be pretty routine, unless you have an issue or if you are pregnant. Once you get older, your doctor will talk with you about menopause, the changes and symptoms you may be experiencing, and how to treat them. Your gynecologist will also perform regular checks of the ovaries, vagina, bladder, rectum, and your uterus. A lot can still happen in your later years, including various cancers, STDs, vaginal tears (due to increased dryness of the vaginal walls), incontinence, or prolapse, so it’s important to keep up with those regular routine exams.