Gynecologist vs. OB/GYN: Understanding the Distinction

When it comes to reproductive healthcare, you have two options for treating your reproductive needs: an OB/GYN or gynecologist. Both specialists specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions related to female reproductive health; however there may be differences in their scope of care; for instance gynecologists often serve as primary care providers, while an OB/GYN provides reproductive healthcare and pregnancy related advice as well as all the components of care required during gestation. If you are struggling with infertility you may prefer seeing an OB/GYN since they can offer guidance regarding treatments such as IVF, egg freezing as well as clinical-grade fertility supplements if necessary.

What Is a Gynecologist? A gynecologist is a practitioner who specializes in caring for women’s reproductive health. Gynecologists diagnose and treat conditions affecting vagina, ovaries, uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes. Your gynecologist can perform exams and screenings to make sure all reproductive organs are functioning as they should and treat issues related to menstruation, sexually transmitted diseases as well as conditions like endometriosis or PCOS.

What Is an Obstetrician? An obstetrician is someone who specializes in obstetrics – the care given to pregnant women during gestation (pregnancy, delivery and post-natal). An obstetrician provides prenatal, delivery and postpartum care as well as guidance regarding conception. They may also assist post-pregnancy conditions like postpartum depression. A practitioner who specializes in both fields – known as an OB/GYN – is qualified to perform the duties of both.

What Are the Differences Between Gynecologists and OB/GYNs? Gynecologists and OB/GYNs differ in many respects, including education and training requirements, scope of practice and patients typically seen.

Education and Training
Both gynecologists and OB/GYNs must earn a bachelor’s degree, with candidates typically majoring in fields related to science or medicine such as biology, chemistry, physics or anatomy. After earning this qualification, those hoping to become gynecologists or OB/GYNs must also complete training at an accredited medical school and achieve doctor of medicine (MD) status.

As the final step to becoming a gynecologist or OB/GYN, one must complete a residency program of four years followed by licensure and board certification exams. At this point, an OB/GYN’s education and training vary. While an OB/GYN must receive instruction in various specialties such as gynecology, obstetrics, reproductive endocrinology and ultrasonography training during residency programs; licensure exams must also pass certification exams in order to practice their profession – many OB/GYNs go further still to become board certified members from American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology certification programs.

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