What do gynaecologists do?
Gynaecologists specialise in managing women’s conditions associated with the female reproductive system, and not just childbirth.
These conditions include:
- lumps and bumps of the womb and ovary called fibroids and ovarian cysts
- menstruation irregularities or pain
- bothersome vaginal discharge and infections
- urinary disturbances and womb prolapse
- hormonal imbalances and menopause issues
- cancers of the reproductive system
How are they different from 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 interests, such as:
- Cancer management
- Reproductive medicine and subfertility
- Urinary problems and womb prolapse, called urogynaecology
- Minimally invasive surgery to undertake surgery through small keyhole cuts
Common medical issues that gynaecologists treat
The common medical issues that gynaecologists treat are:
A woman’s menstrual cycle is an indicator of how healthy her reproductive system is. Symptoms such as a menstrual flow that is excessively heavy, or too light, inconsistent, or has stopped completely, may be signs of a menstrual issue. 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.
It is common for fluid-filled sacs (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 become extremely painful, specifically the ones that burst. Pain and discomfort is one of 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 benign tumours that develop on the walls of the uterus. Although they are non-cancerous, they may still cause significant problems as they grow in size. They may lead to pressure symptoms in the pelvis and heavy menstrual bleeding.
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 prevention and preservation.
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, the 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
Article reviewed by Dr Anthony Siow, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital
Gynecologists: When to visit and what to expect. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288354
What is the difference between a gynecologist, obstetrician, and an ob-gyn?. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/women/qa/what-is-the-difference-between-a-gynecologist-obstetrician-and-an-obgyn
What Is an Obstetrician. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/what-is-an-obstetrician-twins#1
Ovarian cysts. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cysts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353405
Fibroids. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/uterine-fibroids#_noheaderprefixedcontent
Menstrual Problems. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/menstrual-problems
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Information for Women. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/women
What is an OB-GYN?. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324292#when-should-someone-see-an-ob-gyn
Your First Gynaecologic Visit. Retrieved on 19 January 2021 from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/your-first-gynecologic-visit