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About Obgyns

What is an OB/GYN?

An OB/GYN is a medical doctor specializing in female reproductive health. The initials “OB” and “GYN” refer to two separate medical fields usually practiced together. Obstetrics (the “OB” of OB/GYN) deals with health care during pre-conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and post-delivery, while gynecology (the “GYN” or OB/GYN) deals with the general care of women's health issues. So while obstetrics deals specifically with prenatal care, pregnancy, high-risk pregnancies, and other medical needs of pregnant women (or women soon to become pregnant), gynecology deals with a woman's reproductive health and wellness more generally.

Some common reasons for seeing an OB/GYN include:

  • Questions or concerns about the female reproductive system, including breasts, uterus, vulva, ovaries, and urological symptoms
  • Issues or concerns regarding fertility, pregnancy, menstrual health, and contraception
  • Issues regarding incontinence
  • Questions about sexual health, libido, and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Concerns about urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections

What conditions can an OB/GYN treat?

With over a decade of training, OB/GYNs have the experience to treat hundreds of illnesses, diseases, and conditions related to the female reproductive system.

Common conditions treated by OB/GYNs include:

  • Abnormal Bleeding: Uterine bleeding outside a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle.
  • Endometriosis: A disorder in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): An infection caused by bacteria in the female reproductive organs.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: A pregnancy outside the uterus, often in fallopian tubes or ovaries.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI): Bacterial infections of any part of the urinary system, including the bladder and urethra.
  • Menopausal Symptoms: Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, etc., due to hormonal changes associated with aging and menopause.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A condition characterized by irregular menstrual cycles and higher levels of certain hormones causing various symptoms such as infertility or hair loss.
  • Breast Health Issues: Regular screenings for lumps, cysts, fibroids, and other breast abnormalities are essential during an OB/GYN visit to maintain good breast health over time.

In addition to diagnosing, treating, and preventing acute and chronic diseases like endometriosis and cancer, OB/GYNs also offer care for reproductive problems like infertility. A reproductive endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing and treating issues related to infertility, pregnancy issues, and hormone functions.

Some OB/GYNs also have the advanced training to perform hysterectomies, surgeries that remove the uterus. Gynecological oncologists also perform these procedures. Your gynecologist may recommend a hysterectomy to treat:

  • Endometriosis (abnormal tissue cells growing outside the uterus, causing menstrual and pelvic pain)
  • Cancers of the reproductive organs (cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer)
  • Fibroids (tumors in the uterus
  • Uterine prolapse (when the uterus drops or slides into the vagina)

Depending on your OB/GYN, you may be referred to a gynecological surgeon or gynecological oncologist for this procedure.

What are pelvic exams and pap smears, and are they necessary?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly 94,000 women were diagnosed with a form of gynecologic cancer every year between 2012 and 2016. Uterine cancer was the most commonly diagnosed form of gynecologic cancer, and vaginal cancer was the least common.

Pap smears and pelvic exams have dramatically reduced deaths caused by gynecological cancers. The Pap smear was introduced in the 1940s and has significantly lowered the incidence of gynecological cancer mortality by over 70% since the 1950s. Currently, regular Pap screening tests have been shown to reduce the incidence and mortality of gynecological cancers by 80%. These simple screening tests are crucial to a woman’s health and preventing serious diseases.

During a pelvic exam:

  • The healthcare provider will start by examining both legs for any abnormalities
  • The vulva is visually examined for bumps, irritation, sores, or redness
  • The OB/GYN uses a speculum–a plastic or metal device that spreads open the vaginal walls–to conduct an internal exam of the vagina
  • The OB/GYN will insert two lubricated fingers into the vagina while applying pressure to various areas to feel for any signs of infection or other irregularities
  • Samples of cervical cells may be taken for further testing if needed (Pap smear)
  • Questions about sexual practices, menstrual cycle, pregnancy history, etc., may be asked during this time

Pap tests are used to screen for cervical cancer, usually done at the same time as a pelvic exam and/or HPV test.

A pap smear is a routine test that consists of a cell sample taken from the vagina. The OB/GYN will hold open the vaginal walls with a speculum and use a small brush or swab to collect cervical cells. These cells are then examined under a microscope for signs of infection or disease.

The American College of Gynecologists recommends that women receive pap tests every 3 years, starting at 21. They also recommend that women see an OB/GYN once every year for a routine check-up. These visits are crucial in preventing disease and detecting issues (like the early signs of cancer) before they become complicated.

When should girls start seeing an OB/GYN?

A girl should start seeing an OB/GYN once she starts menstruating. Most girls will start doing so around the age of 12. Before this time, pediatricians or family medicine physicians can provide gender-specific health care for girls. Once a girl starts getting her period, however, she should start seeing an OB/GYN. As outlined above, the preliminary visit will likely just consist of a discussion about puberty, menstruation, sexual health, and STIs. Unless there is an acute issue that needs addressing, it is unlikely that a girl will have a pelvic exam during her first OB/GYN visit.

After this initial visit, it is recommended that girls and women see an OB/GYN once a year for a routine check-up. These annual visits are crucial in maintaining the general wellness of a woman’s reproductive system while screening for complications like cancer and STIs. Early detection of cancer improves the efficacy of cancer treatment, making regular gynecologic visits a cornerstone of women’s health.

OB/GYNs can also prescribe birth control measures like birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and vaginal rings. Many of these measures prevent unplanned pregnancies and help regulate hormone levels. Over time, this can even help prevent certain acute conditions and cancers.

How do I book an OB/GYN visit in Dallas?

Whether you need a regular check-up or acute care for concerning symptoms, Sesame can help. We have partnered with obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) across the Dallas-Fort Worth area to provide women’s health care near you. With in-person and video visits available, OB/GYN care on Sesame is convenient and affordable.

In some cases, OB/GYNs require an in-person visit. For example, OB/GYNs must perform pelvic exams, Pap smears, and other diagnostic tests and preventative care practices in person. If your OB/GYN determines that you will need follow-up in-person care, they will discuss how to book that appointment with you during your visit.

Here’s how to book an OB/GYN appointment on Sesame:

  • Search "OB/GYN" in Sesame’s search bar
  • Explore the list of nearby service providers
  • Choose from video or in-person services
  • Choose a time that best accommodates your schedule
  • Book your visit!

Regular visits to the OB/GYN are crucial to maintaining your health and wellness while preventing potentially fatal diseases like uterine cancer. Don’t wait to get the care you need. Book an appointment today to save up to 60% on your care–no insurance required.

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