12.JAN.2021 2 MIN READ | 2 MIN READ

It is commonly believed that women only start seeing an obstetrician & gynaecologist when they are pregnant. In reality, these specialists do more than just help you through your pregnancy. Read on to find out more.

Last updated on 1 December 2021

What do gynaecologists do?

Gynaecologists specialise in managing women’s conditions associated with the female reproductive system, and not just childbirth.

These conditions include:

Differences between gynaecologists and obstetricians

Obstetricians specialise in helping women through their pregnancies and childbirth. They ensure both mother and baby are in good health throughout the pregnancy.

Though most gynaecologists also take care of pregnant women, some gynaecologists do not see pregnant women. These gynaecologists usually have advanced training in their field of sub-speciality and will focus on core areas, such as:

  • Minimally invasive surgery to undertake surgery through small keyhole cuts
  • Reproductive medicine and subfertility
  • Urinary problems and womb prolapse, called urogynaecology
  • Cancer management

Common medical issues that gynaecologists treat

Common conditions
The common medical issues that gynaecologists treat are:

Menstruation issues

A woman’s menstrual cycle is an indicator of how healthy her reproductive system is. Symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycle, excessive menstrual flow or severe menstrual pain may be signs of an underlying condition such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome or premature menopause. This is where a gynaecologist will be able provide an accurate diagnosis and propose a suitable treatment plan. In most cases, medication alone will be able to help regulate the menstrual cycle and get it back on track.

Ovarian cysts

It is common for fluid-filled sacs known as cysts to grow on the surface of the ovaries. These cysts are usually benign and go away on their own without any medical intervention. Most times, women won’t even realise that they were there.

However, some ovarian cysts can grow larger in size and cause pressure symptoms or pain. Pain and discomfort are among the key symptoms women will notice and seek medical attention for. In some instances, your gynaecologist might need to surgically remove these cysts.


Fibroids are the most common benign lumps that develop within the walls of the uterus. Close to 70% of women can have fibroids, with most of them being small and not requiring treatment. Although they are non-cancerous, they may still cause significant problems if they grow in size. They may lead to symptoms such as pressure in the pelvis and heavy menstrual bleeding. Large fibroids may also affect fertility. A gynaecologist will be able to provide you with all the treatment options for fibroids with regards to future pregnancy.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence refers to uncontrollable leakage of urine during normal activity like coughing, laughing and jumping. While it is more common in older women who had given birth vaginally, it can also present in other other women of all ages. In some cases, the incontinence is associated with the sensation of the womb dropping downwards. This is a possible sign of womb prolapse. A urogynaecologist will be able to help manage urine incontinence and womb prolapse.

When to see a gynaecologist

Girls aged 13 – 15 years can consider making their first appointment with a gynaecologist for general consultation on women’s health, the menstrual cycle and, in some cases, facts about fertility and infection prevention.

From the age of 25, women can start seeing a gynaecologist for a women’s health screening, pelvic ultrasound and PAP smears. They should return for annual checks if they are sexually active, as well as for regular PAP smears every 3 years. In between the annual checks, a gynaecologist can be consulted if unusual symptoms are experienced, like:

  • Heavy and irregular menstrual cycles
  • Menstrual pain or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pelvic discomfort and pressure symptoms
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

Women around the age of 40 - 50 can consult a gynaecologist to screen for fibroids, ovarian cysts or discuss issues relating to perimenopausal adjustments.

Schedule an appointment to consult your gynaecologist for a women’s health assessment today. You will be reassured when all tests are normal and thankful when a condition is detected early.


Article reviewed by Dr Anthony Siow, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital


(29 August 2017) Gynecologists: When to visit and what to expect. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288354

(30 August 2020) What is the difference between a gynecologist, obstetrician, and an ob-gyn?. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/women/qa/what-is-the-difference-between-a-gynecologist-obstetrician-and-an-obgyn

(n.d.) What Is an Obstetrician. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/what-is-an-obstetrician-twins#1

(26 August 2020) Ovarian cysts. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cysts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353405

(17 July 2020) Fibroids. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/uterine-fibroids#_noheaderprefixedcontent

(18 June 2020) Menstrual Problems. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/menstrual-problems

(9 November 2020) Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Information for Women. Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/women

(25 January 2019) What is an OB-GYN? Retrieved 16 January 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324292#when-should-someone-see-an-ob-gyn

(June 2020) Your First Gynaecologic Visit. Retrieved 19 January 2021 from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/your-first-gynecologic-visit

(n.d.) Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Retrieved 18 November 2021 from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos#

(21 September 2021) Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Retrieved 18 November 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/symptoms-causes/syc-20351240

(9 March 2021) Urinary incontinence. Retrieved 19 November 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808

Siow Yew Ming Anthony
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Gleneagles Hospital

Dr. Siow had more than 15 years of institutional practice before setting up ASC Clinic for Women at Gleneagles Medical Centre. He graduated from the Medical School of National University of Singapore, obtained his Masters Degree in Year 2000 and became a Member of the Royal Australia & New Zealand College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists in United Kingdom and Academy of Medicine, Singapore.