When was the last time you saw a gynecologist? Has it been a while? Can you not remember at all?
A gynecologist is a crucial member of your healthcare team. If you aren’t seeing one regularly, now is a great time to start.
What does a gynecologist do? Why should you visit a gynecologist on a regular basis? Read on to find out.
What Is a Gynecologist?
Let’s start with a basic gynecologist definition.
A gynecologist is a physician who specializes in handling issues related to female reproductive health. Anyone who has female reproductive organs can work with a gynecologist.
Gynecologists offer a variety of services related to female reproductive health, including the following:
- Pelvic exams
- Pap smears
- Cancer screenings
- Testing and treatment for vaginal infections, including STDs/STIs
A gynecologist can also diagnose and provide treatments for disorders that affect the reproductive system. This includes conditions like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic pain, and infertility. They diagnose and treat reproductive cancers (ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, etc.), too.
Gynecologist vs OB/GYN
Many people assume that gynecologists and OB/GYNs are the same. That’s not the case, though.
An OB/GYN specializes in two things: Obstetrics (matters related to pregnancy and childbirth) and gynecology. This is where the abbreviation comes from.
A gynecologist, on the other hand, only specializes in gynecology. They typically don’t work with pregnant women.
What Does a Gynecologist Do?
In general, it’s recommended that you see a gynecologist once a year for a pelvic exam and other preventative tests and treatments.
To some, the idea of keeping up with regular gynecologist appointments might seem like a nuisance. Gynecologists can do a lot for you, though, including the following:
Test for STDs and STIs
One of the most important reasons to see a gynecologist regularly is so you can get tested for (and, if necessary, receive treatment for) sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs or STIs).
The sooner you catch these conditions, the easier they are to manage and recover from. Your gynecologist can also provide advice to help you avoid contracting additional STDs or STIs in the future.
Prevent Unplanned Pregnancies
A gynecologist can write you a prescription for birth control pills or offer information on other birth control methods (such as IUDs, patches, and shots). If you aren’t interested in getting pregnant right now, you can work with a gynecologist to come up with a plan to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Prevent Pregnancy Complications
If you’re pregnant, you ought to be seeing an OB/GYN regularly, too. They can monitor you and your baby to catch potential issues or complications early. This can help you to stay healthy and feel your best throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
Address Menstrual Problems
Between 14 and 25 percent of women struggle with poor menstrual health and menstrual irregularities. This includes things like irregular or infrequent periods, painful periods, and severe premenstrual syndrome (or PMS).
If you’re part of this group and are tired of feeling terrible every time you have a period, a gynecologist can help.
Reduce Cancer Risk
Regular gynecologic exams can help to reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer, including uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
Gynecologists know how to screen for early signs of these conditions. If they notice anything wrong, they can order extra tests and take action to prevent the problem from getting worse.
When Should You Start Seeing a Gynecologist?
Teenagers can and should visit the gynecologist. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (or ACOG), girls should first see a gynecologist between 13 and 15 years of age.
From this age, ideally, they will start seeing the gynecologist once per year for an annual exam.
It’s never too late to start seeing a gynecologist, though. If you’ve never been or haven’t been going consistently, now is a great time to start making gynecologic exams a regular part of your wellness routine.
How Do I Find the Best Gynecologist Near Me?
If you’re ready to see a gynecologist, it’s important to do your homework. Don’t just type in “female gynecologist near me” and hope for the best.
Follow these steps to ensure you find the right person for the job:
Consider Your Insurance Network
Start by reaching out to your insurance company to see which gynecologists or OB/GYNs are in your network. Seeing a physician in your network will help you to avoid expensive fees and surprise bills.
Ask for Referrals
If you’re still overwhelmed by your choices, reach out to friends or family members and ask for referrals. This is especially helpful if you can get advice from someone who is similar to you in age or whose healthcare needs are similar to yours. They’ll be able to make a recommendation that applies to you and your needs.
Consider Your Needs and Preferences
Speaking of needs, be sure to factor in what you want from a gynecologist.
Do you want to work with a male doctor or a female doctor? Do you have any preferences when it comes to personality or communication style? Do you need a gynecologist who speaks Spanish?
Take these things into account when making your decision.
Remember, you deserve to feel comfortable and confident when you’re in the gynecologist’s office. Make sure you do your homework and choose someone who will help to make this happen.
Finally, read reviews and testimonials.
Reading reviews from past patients can help you determine whether or not a particular gynecologist can meet your needs and has a bedside manner that aligns with your personality. It takes a lot of guesswork out of the process and helps you to feel more confident in your decision.
Schedule an Appointment with a Gynecologist Today
Now, you can answer questions like “what does a gynecologist do?” or “how do I find a gynecologist near me?” with ease. Are you ready to schedule an appointment and start taking control of your health?
If you’re located in New York, we’re here for you at 67th Street OBGYN. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.