ob/gyn specializes in diagnosing and
treating diseases of the female reproductive system: the uterus,
ovaries, cervix and vagina. The ob/gyn also cares for a woman’s
general healthcare, including breasts, urinary tract, the pelvic
area and sexual function. The first step to optimal gynecological health is at the ob/gyn’s
office. After you become sexually active, or after you turn 18, you
should visit the ob/gyn once a year for an “annual visit.” Some
women become so accustomed to regular visits to the ob/gyn that they
even use their ob/gyn as a primary care provider to turn to for all
of their health concerns.
The most important thing an ob/gyn can
do for you if you’re
a healthy woman is to provide preventive healthcare. He or she
will be able to administer routine exams like the clinical
pelvic exam and Pap
test in order to keep up-to-date with your
health. By becoming familiar with your body and your test results
on a regular
basis, your doctor will be able to notice any changes in your gynecological
or general health.
Check out the section on choosing
a provider for tips on how to find the ob/gyn that’s right for you.
If you’re concerned
about the gender of your ob/gyn, make sure you let the administrative
office know when you are making an appointment. Remember that female
and male ob/gyns are equally qualified to treat you. Most male
and female ob/gyns will bring a female nurse into the exam room.
for the letters FACOG after your ob/gyn’s name. These letters
mean that he or she is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists (ACOG), and is board-certified. ACOG is a national
group of ob/gyns that supports women’s healthcare
issues and offers resources to keep members up-to-date on the latest
advancements in women’s healthcare.
At your “well-woman
visit,” or your annual visit, your
ob/gyn will perform at least a basic gynecologic exam. This is
the key to preventive care, including specific exams, tests and
of your individual concerns. Your ob/gyn will talk to you about
your general health history, menstrual history, childbearing history,
behavior and lifestyle, sexual habits, and any other particular
Be sure you know your menstrual schedule, specifically the date
of your last menstrual period when you come to your office visit.
is useful information that may help your ob/gyn understand the
results of your exam better. Your ob/gyn will perform a physical
a clinical breast exam, pelvic exam and a Pap test. Then, your
ob/gyn will talk candidly with you about your concerns, plans,
The annual visit is designed to detect any signs of health problems
in early age, to look for particular risks to your health, to perform
all routine exams and tests, and to provide lifestyle changing
options that may lower potential health risks, if necessary.