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Obstetrics vs Gynecology: What’s the Difference?

Many women see an OB/GYN provider for their women’s health needs, including
pregnancy and menopause management, but did you know that OB/GYN actually
encompasses two different medical specialties? Obstetrics and gynecology.
Here’s a look differences between the two.
An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in the care of a pregnant woman and her
unborn baby. These specialists are trained to handle a variety of potential complications
or situations that may occur during pregnancy and the birthing process, including:

 Ectopic pregnancy: a pregnancy in which the fetus grows outside of the uterus
 Fetal distress: signs before and during childbirth that may signal the fetus may not
be doing well
 Placenta issues
 High blood pressure: often a precursor to pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious
 Cesarean section
An obstetrician is also able to guide a mother safely through the entire experience from
conception to delivery to the postpartum period. Other services offered by obstetricians
 Fertility treatment
 Fetal diagnostic procedures
 NICU care (this may also be handled by a pediatrician)
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Gynecologists focus on the non-pregnancy aspects of a woman’s reproductive health.
Women often begin seeing a gynecologist when they become sexually active or at the
onset of puberty if needed. Women visit their gynecologist through menopause and
Regular gynecological exams are important for a woman’s health. Gynecologists
perform standard examinations, such as Pap tests and pelvic exams. They may also be
seen for diagnosis and/or treatment of a variety of conditions, including:
 Cancer of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina or fallopian tubes
 Prolapse: a condition in which the pelvic organs slip forward or downward within the
body, often after menopause in women
 Yeast or bacterial infections
 Painful intercourse
 Irregular menstruation or pain during menstruation.
 Other menopause-related diseases
 Endometriosis: a painful condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus
 Cervical and vaginal polyps
 Fibroids: compact tumors that develop in the uterus
 Ovarian cysts
In addition, a gynecologist can perform surgical procedures on reproductive organs.
Some of the most common procedures include:
 Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus
 Oophorectomy: Removal of the ovaries
 Salpingectomy: Removal of the fallopian tubes
 Tubal ligation: Permanent birth control surgery
 Cone biopsy: Removal of precancerous cells from the cervix after a Pap test
 Labiaplasty: Surgical reshaping of external genitalia
Many practices choose to combine the obstetrician and gynecologist specialties to
provide more comprehensive women’s care.
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