If you are pregnant or have an annual well-woman exam, you are probably familiar with visiting an OB/GYN provider for specific care needs. However, there is much more your OB/GYN can do.
While OB/GYNs are involved in pregnancy and reproductive health, they are also committed to helping you live your best, most fulfilling life. Your OB/GYN is more than just a medical doctor – they are your health partner at all stages of life.
What is an OB/GYN provider?
OB/GYN providers are doctors who focus on obstetrics (prenatal health) and gynecology (female reproductive health). OB/GYNs have received a medical degree, completed residency training in the OB/GYN specialty and are trained to perform surgeries, such as cesarean delivery (C-section).
Differences between OB/GYN and Midwife
While the two certified nurse midwife and OB/GYN providers focus on women’s health care, they differ in some ways. First, medical training is different. Nurses receive a nursing degree and spend a few years in the nursing field, then return to school for a nurse midwifery degree. Also, nurses are unable to perform surgeries, although nurses and OB/GYN often work together to provide the best possible care to patients. Read more about the role of a midwife.
Caring for women’s health throughout life
During your life you may have different health concerns and personal needs based on family history, hormones and stage in your life. While most people consider a family medicine or internal medicine provider for primary care, your OB/GYN provider may also be considered a part of your primary care team. – collaborates with family and internal medicine providers to help manage more specific female conditions and surgical specialists. .
“There are a lot of conditions outside that we have treatments for,” he said Ryan Beardsley, MDan OB/GYN provider at MercyOne Waterloo OB/GYN. “And some of these are very painful conditions that women suffer when we have ways to manage them.”
Whether it’s pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding or your annual health exam, here are some common reasons to visit an OB/GYN provider:
Teenagers and young adults
There are many reasons for teens and young adults to visit an OB/GYN including :, irregular or painful menstrual patternsSTI testing, pap smears and HPV testing.
“Maybe your bleeding patterns are too close or too heavy over long periods of time. These are great things to ask an OB/GYN because we can see if it can increase their risks of problems later in life, ”said Dr. Beardsley.
Another reason you may want to visit an OB/GYN provider is for pelvic pain. Even if there are many causes of pelvic pain, cysts in your ovaries or fibroids in your uterus can be one of the causes. Usually, the cyst surrounding the egg breaks, the egg comes out of the fallopian tube and is carried to the uterus. But for some women the cyst can form incorrectly, and the eruption can be very painful.
“Sometimes these cysts cause the ovary to become crooked causing it to curl – called ovarian torsion. They float on the thin membrane that sits between the uterus and the side wall of the pelvis,” Dr. Beardsley said. “Like of how painful a heart attack can be due to reduced oxygen and reduced blood flow to the heart, reduced blood flow to the ovary is very painful and if left untreated can result in emergency surgery. “
Monitoring your cycle will help your provider understand your regular menstrual patterns.
“Women who track their periods on apps with bleeding and pain levels have really helped us a lot,” Drs. Beardsley. “Those time planners give us an understanding of what your normal period is and help us better understand your body which can help us treat and manage pain.”
Prenatal, labor and delivery
During pregnancy, you can see your OB/GYN provider over a dozen different times. These visits are important to monitor the growth and well-being of the child, your health and wellness, look for risky conditions and other health problems such as. postpartum depression.
After giving birth, most women will only see their OB/GYN two or three times. These visits focused on recovery, transition to motherhood and overall well-being. Those first weeks are about healing from childbirth and making sure any damage and inflammation is healed. In the weeks after delivery, some common health concerns looked at by OB/GYNs include abnormal bleeding, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia.
“There are a lot of things we’re trying to get better at around preeclampsia because that can be a recurring postpartum flare -up,” Drs. Beardsley. “Preeclampsia is one of the most common causes of maternal death in our country. Things like strokes and seizures can happen because of preeclampsia.
Dr. encouraged. Beardsley encourages women to really take advantage of their visit during pregnancy.
“One of my favorite things about caring for women through pregnancy, childbirth and childbirth is that women are so motivated to do whatever they need to take care of their baby,” Drs. . Beardsley. “And there are so many situations and conditions that the best long-term strategies are simple: eat healthy, exercise and quit smoking.”
The transition to menopause presents remarkable differences in health compared to the early stages of a woman’s life.
“I am so grateful when women are willing to come in and talk about menopause and their experiences. I see a lot of women who are comfortable talking about menopause and some who can’t, ”said Dr. Beardsley. “I’ve seen women suffer for 10+ years until it can be debilitating for the rest of their lives before they go in. And even if we don’t always have treatment, we can help manage pain and symptoms, so that you do not have to suffer for the rest of your life. ”
Another common reason to visit an OB/GYN is if you have experienced postmenopausal bleeding.
“Most of the time it’s not serious, but there are times where it’s a sign of a malignancy, like uterine cancer,” Drs. Beardsley. “We don’t want women to refuse to visit someone because it can get worse over time. The sooner we get the condition, the better we can take care of it. ”
Having a provider who travels through different stages of life with you is essential to maintaining a complete circle of care. They know your family history, your personal medical history, understand your health values and you are leading your best life.