The term “OBGYN” is an abbreviation referring to the medical specialties of obstetrics and gynecology. Obstetrics is the field of medicine that trains physicians to take care of 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 concurrently because both intimately deal with the anatomy, function and pathophysiology of the female reproductive tract. OBGYN doctors surgically and non-surgically treat all women, whether or not they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
While it is common for this type of doctor to be female, there are many male doctors that practice obgyn medicine. A doctor that 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 the health of the mother and fetus with special emphasis on high-risk pregnancy management or fetal surgery. The time of and around childbirth can be particularly precipitous and the main goal of perinatologists is to reduce morbidity and mortality for both mother and child.
Reproductive endocrinologists assist patients with understanding, diagnosing, treating, or dealing with infertility. While there are many biological, congenital and anatomical causes of infertility, diagnosis and treatment focuses on interventions that can assist couples in becoming pregnant. A physician will run a series of tests on a woman and her partner to narrow down the source of the infertility and make a set of recommendations based on the determined diagnosis.
OBGYN oncology is a medical subspecialty that deals with surgical and non-surgical treatment of cancer found in female reproductive organs and urinary tract. Cancer can often spread quickly and it is important to consult with a professional early in the course to determine the most beneficial type of therapy. Whether local excision or systemic chemotherapy is required, an appropriately trained and experienced physician will be able to guide and educate their patient to make informed decisions about their health.
Pelvic reconstructive surgery is a common treatment considered in women with urinary incontinence or prolapse of pelvic organs 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 may 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 pregnancy termination. This field may be considered controversial in many states but is an important part of female medicine. Neglecting to offer this aspect of female medical care may undermine a woman’s efforts to take care of her body and drive her to seek illegal or unsafe care.
OBGYN doctors may also choose to focus on a particular subset of the female population based on age. Pediatric, adolescent, menopausal, and geriatric gynecology each have their own set of unique challenges, diseases and disorders.