Women have specific considerations that may require the medical care of a physician who specializes in a variety of women’s health issues. This article summarizes several types of doctors for women as well as considerations to be mindful of when trying to locate a doctor in any type of situation.
An obstetrician is a physician who cares for and treats pregnant women. Not only do they provide prenatal and postnatal care, they are also trained to deliver babies through vaginal or cesarean (surgical) methods. Obstetricians are regulated by the Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN). All obstetricians are also gynecologists, but the reverse is not true.
Gynecologists specialize in gynecological issues. Wikipedia defines this as a “surgical specialty dealing with health of the female reproductive system (uterus, vagina and ovaries). Literally, outside medicine, it means "the science of women." Doctors that aren't OB/GYNs and are just GYNs don't deal with pregnancy and childbirth.
Women may have fertility issues when trying to conceive children. Therefore a sub-specialty exists to address this matter. According to a National Survey of Family Growth, in the United States alone, 6.1 million women have an impaired ability to have children, 9.2 million women have used fertility services and currently 9.3 million women are using fertility services. Fertility doctors assess a woman’s health to determine if there are any physiological or psychological barriers to conception and try to overcome them. Often, fertility doctors prescribe fertility drugs, and perform in-vitro procedures and diagnostic testing to treat their patients.
Many specialty centers are focusing on a variety of women’s health issues like hormone replacement, aging, osteoporosis and OB/GYN care. Some plastic surgeons are experts on breast reconstruction and genital reconstruction. There are also national campaigns, events, tools and education that center specifically on women’s health. To find about events and providers that focus on women’s health go to the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services, Women's Health section. Although many medical conditions have unique considerations in women, you may not always be able to find a specialist who works just with women, but you should be able to find a woman practitioner.
Review your insurance plan carefully to identify in-network physicians. Many insurance companies will also list “best practice” physicians who have excellent medical outcomes and training. Often an insurance company requires a patient to be referred to a specialist after a visit to your primary care doctor. Make sure to understand the rules of your particular health plan before seeking specialty care. Keep in mind it may also constitute a higher co-pay. Regardless of whether you have insurance, it is important to select a doctor that best suits your needs. To find one that fits your personal criteria check out this Web MD.
Jennifer M. Roberts is an experienced writer of health and wellness articles. A creator of a school-based curriculum to help prevent and reduce obesity in children, Roberts has been focusing on obesity in youth for more than 10 years. A graduate of the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in health promotion, she lives with her husband and three children in Texas.