The female body has its own set of unique functions, from the first period to the first child and beyond. When it comes to a woman’s reproductive health, special care and attention is required. Obstetricians and gynecologists, commonly referred to as OB/GYNs, specialize in women's general medical care.
During her four-year specialized residency, the obstetrician/gynecologist is trained in areas of female reproductive health including the care of reproductive organs, preconception health, prenatal care, pregnancy, labor, childbirth, postpartum care, preventative health and genetics. An OB/GYN can also treat disorders and diseases such as urinary tract infections, hormonal disorders, sexually transmitted diseases or cancer. OB/GYNs can work in a private practice, in a medical group or hospital, and can serve as a primary care physician for a woman, or work in conjunction with other medical providers.
Women are encouraged to get an annual pap smear at their family doctor or gynecologist to detect cancer and other abnormalities early. When women develop certain cancers such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer or breast cancer, they might go to an oncology gynecologist who specializes in managing and treating cancers of the female reproductive organs.
Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
When conceiving is a challenge for a couple, it can be frustrating, even heartbreaking. Enter reproductive medicine. Reproductive endocrinologists are OB/GYNs with advanced training and specialize in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. These medical professionals can treat menstrual, menopausal and reproductive disorders for women and adolescents, as well as test for and treat infertility in men and women.
A career in midwifery is an alternative path that can lead to caring for women before, during and after pregnancy. Certified nurse midwives are formally educated nurses who often work alongside OB/GYNs or on their own, depending on the needs and wants of the patient. Midwife nurses can provide primary and specialty care to women of all ages.
- American Association of Medical Colleges: Specialty Information – Obstetrics and Gynecology
- BLS: Physicians and Surgeons
- American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology: FAQ
- Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility: About SREI
- UC San Diego Health System: Women’s Services – Reproductive Endocrinology
- American College of Nurse-Midwives: Definition of Midwifery and Scope or Practice of Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Midwives
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