When you go to the OBGYN, have you ever wondered what “OB/Gyn” stood for? Well, “OB” is short for obstetrics, while “gyn” is short for gynecology.

Whether you call your doc your OBGYN, gyno, or just doctor, there’s an important difference to understand between OB and Gyn.

Read on to learn more.

What’s the difference between Obstetrics and Gynecology?

The textbook definitions of the two areas of medicine are as follows:

    • Gynecology – The branch of physiology and medicine which deals with the functions and diseases specific to women and girls, especially those affecting the reproductive system.

To become certified as an obstetrician or a gynecologist, you must have 4 years of residency training once you earn your medical degree. Both obstetrics and gynecology are closely related, so most specialists provide care in both areas. This is why you’ll see “OB/Gyn” on your doctor’s office door.

90% of gynecologists also deliver babies.

What is Obstetrics?

In other words, obstetricians generally treat pregnant women, while gynecologists are more oriented towards general care of women and girls. More specifically, obstetricians deal with:

    • pregnancy
    • childbirth (labor and delivery)
    • postpartum period

The OB guides the pregnant woman through every step of the process and makes sure both baby and mom are healthy. They help prevent any problems and intervene quickly and safely if any complications occur.

An OB focuses on the welfare of the pregnant woman and baby.

Note that an OBGYN is not a fertility specialist. While they can certainly help you with some infertility issues, if your concerns are more complicated, your OBGYN is likely to refer you to a fertility specialist. Examples of special criteria that would require a fertility specialist include:

  1. You’ve been unsuccessful at conceiving for over a year
  2. You’ve had more than 2 miscarriages
  3. You’ve been diagnosed with a condition that compromises fertility

What is gynecology?

Most gynecologists are also obstetricians, but they focus on all other aspects of a woman’s reproductive health, from puberty through menopause.

Gynecology deals with any condition affecting the reproductive organs, which includes the vagina, ovaries, uterus, Fallopian tubes, and cervix.

A gynecologist may also treat problems in the bowel, bladder, or urinary issues (like a UTI). They will treat issues such as yeast infections, bacterial infections, irregular/painful menstruation, painful intercourse, among other things.

Your gynecologist can prescribe you birth control.

They also treat prolapse of pelvic organs, which is a postmenopausal condition that affects women with weak pelvic muscles that can’t support the uterus or bladder properly.

You can go to your gyno for many things, including:

    • STD testing
    • Abnormal pap smear results
    • Birth control prescription
    • IUD
    • Other forms of contraception
    • Assistance with infertility issues

The most common surgical procedures performed by gynecologists are:

    • Cone biopsy – This procedure removes precancerous cells in the cervix (once spotted in a pap test).
    • Salpingectomy – Removal of the Fallopian tubes.
    • Ooporectomy – Removal of the ovaries.
    • Hysterectomy – Removal of the uterus.
    • Tubal ligation – Often called “getting your tubes tied,” this procedure is a permanent form of birth control.

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    What’s the difference between obstetrics and gynecology? | Aurora Gonzales, MDPA & Associates – Houston, TX