Gynaecology and obstetrics have become a fundamental part of women’s health in the contemporary field of health. While the two fields overlap and work closely together the optimise the health and wellbeing of women in modern society they have distinct roles in the medical profession. However, the differences between the two can often be confusing for people who haven’t had need for a gynaecologist or obstetrician in their everyday life.
In short obstetrics deals with the care of women and their baby during pregnancy, birth and the immediate days or weeks after their child is born. Gynaecology on the other hand specialises in understanding and treating women’s reproductive systems. This article will attempt to clarify what both of these professions do and how to decide which one is the right doctor for your needs.
What is an obstetrician?
As mentioned above obstetricians are specialists in the field of medicine which are concerned with the care of women during pregnancy, labour and birth. Their primary function is to ensure the wellbeing of women and their children during this critical period in their lives.
- During pregnancy: During pregnancy an obstetrician is responsible for monitoring the health of a woman and her child. This is called antenatal care and involves performing tests to monitor the stages of a baby’s growth, examining the physical and mental health of the baby and their mother and providing advice on care and nutrition.
- During childbirth: When the baby is ready to be born an obstetrician plays a vital role in recommending the proper care during the birthing process and advising on the delivery of the child. If there are complications an obstetrician will be involved in taking the necessary steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of the mother and child.
- After childbirth: An obstetrician will do a postnatal check-up after birth and help guide you to the care and support you need in the first stages of your life with your child.
While it is very common that an obstetrician is also a gynaecologist, gynaecology is a field of medicine that focuses on a different side of women’s health and these professionals are involved for a much longer period of a woman’s life, which ranges from puberty all the way through to menopause.
Gynaecologists focus on the health of a woman’s reproductive health which can include the reproductive system such as the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as their genitals and breasts. Gynaecologists perform routine checks such as Pap tests and examinations for sexually transmitted diseases, and can provide medical treatment for issues such as infections, diseases or other irregularities. They may also perform or advise on particular surgical procedures such as hysterectomies or the removal of precancerous cells within a woman’s reproductive system.
Aside from medical conditions, gynaecologists also concern themselves with a woman’s fertility and can advise on fertility treatments, advice on conception and the proper use of contraception.