The term “OBGYN” is an acronym that refers to the medical specialties of obstetrics and gynecology. Obstetrics is the field of medicine that trains doctors to care for pregnant patients and deliver babies. Gynecology is the field of medicine that trains physicians to diagnose and treat disorders of the female reproductive organs. Medical doctors often train in both specialties at the same time because both are intimately involved in the anatomy, function, and pathophysiology of the female reproductive system. OBGYN doctors treat all women, pregnant or not, with surgical and non-surgical methods.
While it is common for such physicians to be female, there are many male physicians who practice obgin medicine. A doctor who practices obstetric or gynecological medicine may also specialize in perinatology, reproductive endocrinology, oncology, pelvic reconstructive surgery, family planning, pediatric or adolescent gynecology, or menopausal gynecology.
Perinatology is a field of medicine that focuses on maternal and fetal health, with special emphasis on high-risk pregnancy management or fetal surgery. The time at and around birth can be particularly rapid, and perinatologists’ main goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality for both mother and child.
Reproductive endocrinologists help patients understand, diagnose, treat or deal with infertility. While there are many biological, congenital and anatomical causes of infertility, diagnosis and treatment focus on interventions that can help couples get pregnant. A doctor will run a series of tests on a woman and her partner to narrow down the source of infertility and make a range of recommendations based on the diagnosis established.
OBGYN oncology is a medical subspecialty that deals with the surgical and non-surgical treatment of cancer in the female reproductive organs and urinary tract. Cancer can often spread rapidly and it is important to consult a specialist at the beginning of the course to determine the most beneficial type of treatment. Whether local excision or systemic chemotherapy is required, a properly trained and experienced physician will be able to guide and train their patients to make informed decisions about their health.
Pelvic reconstructive surgery is a common treatment considered for women with urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse due to pregnancy or childbirth. Stress incontinence is a common form of urine leakage in women with weak pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises are a non-invasive form of treatment that can provide good long-term results. Other options include pessary or sling implantation.
Family planning is a field of medicine that assists women and couples with contraception education and preparation for abortion or termination of pregnancy. This area may be considered controversial in many states, but it is an important part of women’s medicine. Neglecting to provide this aspect of female medical care can undermine a woman’s efforts to care for her body and push her to seek illegal or unsafe care.
OBGYN doctors may also choose to focus on a specific subset of the female population, depending on age. Pediatric, adolescent, menopausal, and geriatric gynecology each have their own unique challenges, diseases, and disorders.