Gynecologists provide comprehensive medical care for the reproductive system in women, forming a close relationship with their patients to provide the highest degree of care.

What can a young lady expect at her first GYN exam?

About Gynecology

Gynecology is a field of medicine that offers comprehensive care for females of all ages, offering general women's health and care for conditions affecting the female reproductive system. In addition to preventive care including general wellness checkups and physical examinations, gynecologists can test for and treat: sexually transmitted diseases (including but not limited to herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea), pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, complications of the breasts, symptoms of menopause, and vaginal infections (including but not limited to yeast infections, bacterial vaginitis, and trichomoniasis).

Gynecologists test for these and other complications affecting women through a variety of processes and procedures including vaginal swabs, urine tests, blood tests and vaginal-discharge samples, among others. Patients over the age of 21 typically visit their gynecologist once a year for a pelvic exam. Standard pelvic exams typically include a pap smear, breast cancer screening, and preventive screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.

When providing treatments, gynecologists may perform a variety of minimally-invasive or invasive procedures including: operative laparascopy, dilation & curettage (D&C), tubal ligation, appendectomy, hysterectomy, cervical excision procedures, oophorectomy, cystoscopy, endometrial ablation, cryosurgery and loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LOOP), among others. Gynecologists are also trained to provide some degree of perinatal care, education on family planning and contraceptives, and education on issues relating to sexuality, adolescence and menopause.

Gynecology Education & Training

Training to become a gynecologist requires a demanding educational path. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, the student must earn an MD or DO degree by completing medical school. Following graduation from medical school, the physician must complete a four year residency program in obstetrics & gynecology. Regardless of whether or not the physician intends to practice exclusively in gynecology, they must complete residency training that encompasses both areas.

Residents are educated in areas that include ambulatory care, emergency medicine and ultrasound, among others; they also complete clinical rotations in areas such as general gynecology, general obstetrics, maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology & infertility, surgical gynecology and gynecologic oncology, as well as other rotation areas. Some residencies may allow the physician to tailor portions of the program toward their specific career goals, allowing for participation in a specific area of research or other pertinent clinical rotations.

After completing a residency program, gynecologists must earn a medical license from the state in which they intend to practice. The majority of gynecologists seek board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG). In order to maintain board certification, these physicians must complete Maintenance of Certification requirements in six year cycles to illustrate an ongoing commitment to lifelong learning and high standards of clinical practice. Some may choose to practice exclusively in one area or the other (in this case, gynecology) – although the most practice in both areas in order to provide a more comprehensive spectrum of care.