What Is the Difference Between an Obstetrician and a Gynecologist?

Women’s health can be a complex field to major in. There are many fields and subspecialties wherein medical professionals can practice. If, as a woman, you have never met any specialist doctor and have always visited a general practitioner, there is a chance that hearing of an OBGYN doctor may spark your curiosity. Obstetricians and gynecologists are two of the commonest women’s health experts. Knowing the difference between these two medical fields can help you narrow down on who you need to see.

Who Is an Obstetrician?

An obstetrician is a medical professional who has been trained through medical school and has specialized in caring for women before, during, and after pregnancy. The obstetrician’s job extends to a few months after the child has been born. These few months prepartum and postpartum are observation periods where the medical professional recommends treatments to ensure the health of the patient, the pregnancy, and the child.

An obstetrician, during the period before pregnancy, helps the patient prepare for the physiological changes that are associated with pregnancy. During the pregnancy period, the medical professional also carries out regular ultrasound checks to ensure that the pregnancy and fetus are healthy. An obstetrician, during these examinations, can identify complications and chart ways to address them. The obstetrician can also help to determine the gestational period of the fetus as well as high-risk factors in women during pregnancy, delivery, or postpartum.

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you may be referred to an obstetrician if your general practitioner or gynecologist fears your wellbeing may be at risk.

Who Is a Gynecologist?

A gynecologist is a medical practitioner who has undergone years of medical training and has specialized in the female reproductive system. Gynecologists deal with everything related to the female reproductive system including pap smear, vaginal and uterine infections, contraception, fertility issues, hysterectomy, labiaplasty, oophorectomy, and tubal ligations.

Women who wish to undergo regular checkups to ensure that they are in good health will be required to meet with a gynecologist to ensure their reproductive parts are healthy. A gynecologist can also help women address common sex-related problems like painful intercourse. They also address other women’s health problems like fibroids (a non-cancerous growth in the uterus), endometriosis (a medical condition that occurs when the uterine tissue finds a way to grow outside of the uterus), menopause-related diseases, and more.

Who Is an OBGYN?

During medical training, the education of an obstetrician and gynecologist runs concurrently. An OBGYN is an obstetrician/gynecologist who provides the services of both an obstetrician and a gynecologist. This means that an OBGYN provides both medical and surgical care to women while also aiding them pre, during, and post-pregnancy. An OBGYN can address all childbirth, pregnancy, and fertility issues. They provide a comprehensive array of health services to women including preventative care, pap smear testing, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and more.

Areas of Specialty

In some cases, an OBGYN may offer the services of a primary physician to patients of all genders. However, they may also establish a specialty practice that addresses common women-related problems. Through further medical training, an OBGYN may go on to specialize in areas like;

  • Pregnancy and delivery
  • Infertility
  • Reproductive Endocrinology
  • Acute and chronic medical conditions affecting women
  • Preventive health
  • Operative gynecology
  • Health maintenance during pregnancy
  • Cervical and ovarian cancer
  • Adolescent gynecology
  • Addiction Medicine
  • Breast Health
  • Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Careers In Obstetrics/Gynecology

A medical professional that has specialized in obstetrics and/or gynecology will work in a hospital, clinic, university, or medical office. Some may also choose to establish a private practice where they will address the needs of women. Irrespective of where an OBGYN chooses to practice, they will be required to interface with women and children to listen to their health challenges and offer medical solutions. Medical solutions may be in the form of medication assistance, performing surgical interventions, and other medical procedures.

While an OBGYN may have passed several stages of learning to become a specialist, they will be required to constantly read and refresh their knowledge. Doing this ensures that they are constantly up to date with the latest medical practices, procedures, and guidelines.

Work hours for an OBGYN vary. Some work 40 hours a week while some others work more or fewer hours depending on a range of factors including the scope of their practice, complications, emergencies, and others.