There are many health benefits to visiting with a doctor at least once a year. A doctor’s visit is your opportunity to get important health screenings done and talk about any health concerns you may have, including issues related to your reproductive health. There’s no better doctor to address reproductive health than an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN).
What many people may not realize is that an OB/GYN is a primary care specialty doctor qualified to deal with pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation, hormonal disorders, sexually transmitted infections and a host of other health experiences spanning a woman’s life. If you prefer getting your well-woman care from a health care provider who understands the complexities of female reproduction, then an OB/GYN is a good option.
With OB/GYN care, you essentially get a specialist in two different but related fields: obstetrics and gynecology. The obstetrician works with women to keep pregnancies healthy and to deliver babies. The gynecologist focuses on a broader spectrum of issues relevant to women, along with health and diseases of the female reproductive system.
“Every woman should see an OB/GYN to promote good health,” explains Catherine Olsen, D.O., OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Rockwall and Texas Health Women’s Care, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “This person is an integral part of any health care team, and is equipped to deal with issues facing women of all ages. Starting from puberty when the reproductive organs mature, a woman should make a point to be regularly evaluated by an OB/GYN specialist. A first exam between the ages of 13 and 15 or when she becomes sexually active is a good rule of thumb. Establishing and keeping a close relationship with an OB/GYN will be helpful over many years. As a woman’s health needs evolve, she can depend on her OB/GYN for targeted and supportive care.”
Olsen notes that an OB/GYN can be a great resource for an adolescent woman in explaining normal bodily functions and answering questions about menstruation that may arise. He or she is also qualified to advise older women about menopause and hormone replacement therapy.
“Talking with an OB/GYN annually can be helpful to a woman’s mental health as well as her physical health. There are a number of issues associated with sexuality and reproduction that an OB/GYN is an expert in. Birth control is a good example. There are always new choices coming available, and an OB/GYN can make recommendations to fit a woman’s lifestyle and specific health goals. In addition, yearly visits are a chance to have important screenings done,” she adds.
What to see an OB/GYN for:
- Preventive health screenings, including Pap testing and pelvic and breast exams
- Adolescent gynecology, including menstruation management
- In sexually active females, screening and education regarding sexually transmitted infections
- Prenatal counseling and help with family planning issues such as contraception, sterilization and infertility
- Prenatal care, including blood work, and testing for birth defects and/or genetic disorders
- Normal and high-risk pregnancy and postpartum care
- Fetal monitoring during pregnancy, including ultrasounds
- Diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and sexual dysfunction
- Minimally invasive surgeries for uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, hysterectomy and more
- Menopause/hormone replacement therapy counseling and treatment
- Emergency care related to obstetrics or gynecology
“It’s important for every woman to take the initiative when it comes to her unique health,” Olsen says. “Symptoms that especially warrant an appointment or that should be brought to the attention of an OB/GYN during an annual visit include vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse, any breast concerns ? including pain, detection of a mass or nipple discharge, and frequent bladder infections or symptoms of bladder infection.”
Because the female body goes through many different biological functions at different life stages, including menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, reaching out to an OB/GYN gives you extra care for all kinds of health issues. So start early and talk regularly with this woman’s care specialist. It just might shed valuable light on your current state of wellness.