At Grace Medical Aesthetics in Baytown, TX, we get a lot of questions about the differences between obstetrics, gynecology, and what an OBGYN does. Today, we’d like to share everything you need to know about obstetrics and gynecology, including what obstetricians and gynecologists do and why you may need to schedule a visit.
What Does an OBGYN Do?
An OBGYN, or obstetrician-gynecologist, is a medical professional specializing in female reproductive health. Obstetrics involves working with pregnant women from the start of prenatal care all the way through the delivery of the baby. However, in some cases, obstetric care begins before a woman is even pregnant.
A gynecologist is responsible for every other part of a woman’s reproductive health. From chronic pain and STIs to breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings, if you have a problem that is not directly related to pregnancy, a gynecologist can help you. An OBGYN combines these functions to provide comprehensive female healthcare.
What Examinations and Procedures Can an OBGYN Perform?
An obstetrician-gynecologist is a trained surgeon who is qualified to perform a number of procedures, including a hysterectomy, a cesarean section, procedures to repair pelvic organ injuries, and procedures to remove growths such as ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids. They are also instrumental in the delivery process.
They can also treat problems such as anemia and fertility treatments, such as egg retrievals for egg freezing or IVF. They can offer infertility counseling and recommend other infertility treatments. They can perform breast health management and breast exams, such as mammograms and breast cancer screenings. These are just a few of the services we offer.
13 Reasons to Schedule a Visit
1. You Have Dysfunctional Menstrual Cycles
Is your period pain so bad you have to miss work or school because the pain is so severe you can’t crawl out of bed? Do you use a tampon and pad and still leak due to extreme clotting? Do you menstruate irregularly? Do you menstruate for more than 10 days in a row? Do you experience hormone shifts that lead to severe acne breakouts?
If you answered affirmatively to any of the above questions, you should schedule an appointment with a gynecologist. Some women have hormonal imbalances causing extreme clotting and other symptoms of dysfunction menstrual cycles. At Grace Medical Aesthetics in Baytown, TX, we offer hormone replacement therapy along with other solutions to regulate your periods.
2. You Need Endometriosis Treatment
Another service you can expect is endometriosis treatment. Depending on your unique case, the right treatment method for your needs may be Gn-RH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) agonists and antagonists, hormonal contraceptives, progestin therapy, or aromatase inhibitors, just to name a few.
Endometriosis is a medical condition characterized primarily by pain in the vagina, rectum, pelvis, lower back, and lower abdomen. Acute pain may occur during defecation or sex. Other symptoms include infertility, abdominal fullness or cramping, nausea, constipation, heavy menstruation, abnormal menstruation, irregular menstruation, and spotting.
3. You Need a Hysterectomy
If your primary care physician has recommended that you receive a hysterectomy, you should schedule a visit with a gynecologist. A hysterectomy is a procedure involving the removal of a woman’s uterus.
The most common reasons for undergoing a hysterectomy include uterine prolapse, where the uterus slides out of its usual position into the vaginal canal and uterine fibroids that result in bleeding and extreme pain. A hysterectomy may be total or partial and include the removal of surrounding structures, like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix.
4. You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
If you suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, you should schedule a visit with a gynecologist. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, is a hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age. Women suffering from this condition often experience excess androgen (male hormone) levels, infrequent menstrual periods, or prolonged menstrual periods.
There are over a dozen signs and symptoms of this condition. Among the most common are acne or oily skin, obesity, weight gain or becoming overweight, infertility, depression and masculine features. Other side effects include extreme body and facial hair, loss of scalp hair, spotting, short and light menstruation, lack of menstruation, and heavy menstruation.
5. You Had an Abnormal Pap Smear
One of the most common exams performed by a gynecologist is a pap smear. Also known as a Pap test, the Papanicolaou test is a method of testing for cervical cancer, precancerous cells, or cancerous cells in the colon or abnormal growths affecting the cervix. We strongly encourage any woman who is at least 21 years of age to receive a pap smear.
If you are in your 20s, you should schedule a visit for a follow-up exam every three years. If you are concerned about the spatula or small brush used to scrape cell samples from your cervix being cold, just let us know. We will warm it up before your exam. If your lab results come back abnormal, you will definitely need to schedule a follow-up visit.
6. You Suffer From Uterine Dysfunction
If you suffer from fibroids and other uterine dysfunctions, you should schedule a visit with a gynecologist. The most common treatments for uterine dysfunction, including uterine fibroids, are Progestin IUD, laparoscopic surgery, hormonal birth control, and hysterectomy. However, these are not your only options.
It is absolutely crucial that you come in for a diagnosis if you think you suffer from uterine fibroids. This is because the symptoms are so similar to other types of uterine dysfunction. However, you need an accurate diagnosis for a quick, effective treatment. Some of the most common signs of uterine fibroids include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain in the left or right pelvis
- Extreme abdominal pain
- Abnormal menstruation
- Heavy menstruation
- Abdominal distension
- Painful menstruation
- Irregular menstruation (different from abnormal menstruation)
7. You Are Experiencing an Ectopic Pregnancy
The most common signs that you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy are pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding is different than menstrual “bleeding.” Other signs include bloating, nausea, vomiting, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, cramping, and pain on only one side of your body.
If you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, you need to schedule a visit as soon as possible. The later you wait, the more extensive the necessary treatment is. For instance, when caught early enough, chemotherapy or vacuum aspiration may be all you need. However, if you put it off, you may need laparoscopic surgery.
8. You Have Ovarian Cysts
If you have ovarian cysts, you should schedule a visit with a gynecologist. Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled sacs or pockets that form within or on the surface of the ovary. They usually disappear within a few months. However, the ones that don’t cause extensive problems. For instance, they may cause irregular bowel movements and painful intercourse.
Unfortunately, ovarian cysts plague over 3 million Americans per year and can only be treated by a gynecologist. This starts with diagnosis via imaging tests or lab tests. Some women can have their ovarian cysts treated with hormonal birth control. Others need to undergo a medical procedure to have the ovarian cysts removed.
9. You Experience Recurrent Miscarriages
Experiencing an early pregnancy loss is more than many women can bear. They can’t bear the potential of that pain, so they stop trying for good. Other women maintain their faith, get pregnant again and still experience early pregnancy loss. If you have had more than one early pregnancy loss, we can help. Simply schedule an appointment with one of our obstetricians.
10. You Need a Cesarean Section
If your fetus has grown so large you need a cesarean section, you should schedule a visit with an obstetrician. Other reasons you may schedule a cesarean section include mitigating the risk of trauma to your baby during delivery and mitigating the risk of your baby being deprived of oxygen during the birthing process.
It’s also not uncommon for a woman to schedule a cesarean section if they have given birth before and suffered from sexual dysfunction or incontinence after giving vaginal birth. To determine whether a vaginal birth or delivery via cesarean section is best for you and your baby, please feel free to schedule an initial consultation.
11. You Want to Get Pregnant Within the Next Year
If you have been trying and failing to get pregnant for at least 12 months, now is the right time to schedule a visit with an obstetrician. We are proud to offer pre-pregnancy assessments and counseling to help women get pregnant and stay pregnant. We work with women who are over the age of 35, have problematic obstetric histories, and those in other high-risk factors.
We also work with couples at risk of genetic diseases. Counseling involves advice related to lifestyle, exercise, a healthy diet, and pharmacological supplements to take before pregnancy, such as iodine and folic acid. We can also advise you on when and how you should take a pregnancy test and what to expect during your first visit when you get pregnant.
12. You Want to Get Pregnant and Have a Pre-Existing Medical Condition
Every woman wants to be as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy. But this doesn’t mean women with a pre-existing medical condition can’t or shouldn’t get pregnant. If you suffer from thyroid disease, an autoimmune disease, or another pre-existing medical condition–but you are interested in pregnancy–you should schedule an obstetric visit.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy often mimic normal symptoms of pregnancy. Symptoms you need to be aware of, however, include an irregular heartbeat, heightened nervousness, difficulty sleeping, hand tremors, severe nausea and vomiting, and significant weight loss. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in pregnant women include:
- Difficulty forming new memories
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Muscle cramps
13. You Want to Get Pregnant After Age 35
You should also schedule a visit with an obstetrician if you are over the age of 35 and want to have a safe, healthy pregnancy. With advances in medicine related to reproductive health and techniques related to fertility, it is possible to have a healthy baby without complications even if you wait until 40.
However, if you wait until after the age of 40, you may need fertility help from a gynecologist via egg freezing. The bottom line is if you are older and want a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby or you want to wait until later in life to have children, you should schedule a visit.
Schedule Your First Appointment Today
The best time to take your feminine health and wellness into your hands is right now. To schedule your first appointment, contact us today at Grace Medical Aesthetics in Baytown, TX. We can’t wait to meet you and help you walk down this journey of life with your feminine health and sexual wellness intact.