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OB/GYN Practices Specialize in Pregnancy, Childbirth and Women’s Health

Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) practices combine two specialty areas of medicine into one: obstetrics, which consists of the medical management of pregnancy, labor and the period directly following childbirth, and gynecology, which focuses on the management of disorders of the female reproductive system.

Some OB/GYN practices, in addition to their specialty role, serve women as primary care providers. Other OB/GYN practices, however, prefer that their patients find family practice or internal medicine physicians to provide for primary care medical needs not related to reproductive health.

An OB/GYN physician specializes in medical and surgical care of women, focusing on care during pregnancy and childbirth and treating disorders of the female reproductive system. The scope of their practice includes preventive care for women, prenatal care for mother and baby, health screenings, such as Pap smears to check for cervical cancer, family planning and counseling and detection and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Many OB/GYN practices provide a general scope of women’s health care, while others adopt a more specialized focus, such as cancer care and surgery, adolescent gynecology, infertility, gynecology surgery, pregnancy care and delivery, urinary tract disorders, preventive health and behavioral problems.

The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) sets the education and training requirements for OB/GYN physicians, which include graduation from medical school, completion of an accredited, minimum four-year OB/GYN residency program, rotations in a variety of practice areas and experience in primary and preventive health care.

OB/GYN physicians who pass the ABOG’s certifying exam become board certified in the specialty. OB/GYNs may go on to achieve certification in subspecialties such as gynecologic oncology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, maternal/fetal medicine, and urogynecology/reconstructive pelvic surgery.

  • In the specialty of gynecologic oncology, gynecologists manage diagnosis and treatment of patients with gynecological cancer
  • Maternal/fetal medicine specialists manage the care of patients who experience complications in pregnancy
  • The gynecology subspecialty of reproductive endocrinology and infertility focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and correction of hormonal dysfunctions and infertility
  • Urogynecology/reconstructive pelvic surgery is a gynecology subspecialty that addresses dysfunctions of the female urinary tract and treats them with surgery