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February 2022

5 Nonpregnancy Reasons to See Your OB-GYN

 

What do obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) actually do? If you said that they provide pregnancy care and treat menstrual disorders, that’s true—but it’s only part of the answer.

OB-GYNs are the experts on women’s health and well-being at every age. That includes not only reproductive health concerns, but also menopause issues and overall health maintenance.

Young woman talking with her OB-GYN in the clinician's office.

What your OB-GYN can do for you

These are some services that you may not have known your OB-GYN can provide.

  • Well-woman visits are full checkups scheduled every year. This type of visit promotes health and wellness through preventive care. Among other things, you may:

    • Answer questions about your health history

    • Receive a physical exam, vaccines, and/or screenings (see below)

    • Discuss your lifestyle habits, such as your diet and physical activity

    • Learn about ways to improve your health

  • Screening tests are designed to catch diseases early, when they may be easier to treat. Talk with your OB-GYN about how often you should be screened for cervical and breast cancer. Plus, your OB-GYN can advise you on screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

  • Menopause care includes learning how to manage the symptoms of menopause and discussing whether hormone therapy is right for you. You can also turn to your OB-GYN for advice on handling vaginal dryness or sexual changes. Plus, your OB-GYN can recommend steps for protecting your heart and bone health.

  • Urinary incontinence care provides help for bladder control problems. Ask about exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

  • Sexual healthcare includes the management of issues such as painful sex or loss of sex drive. Your OB-GYN is also your go-to expert on birth control, safe sex practices, and testing for sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Is this the same thing as primary care?

If you think this sounds a lot like what your primary care provider (PCP) does, you’re not wrong. There is some overlap in the services that PCPs and OB-GYNs provide.

However, there are also key differences, so many women have both an OB-GYN and a separate PCP who practices family medicine or internal medicine. Family medicine focuses on overall health for the whole family. Internal medicine focuses on health conditions that affect adults.

And obstetrics-gynecology? That focuses on a lot more than you probably realized. If you’re interested in any of the services listed above, ask your OB-GYN about them at your next visit.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2021
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