OBGYNs provide comprehensive care for conditions of the reproductive tract in women, as well as care during pregnancy - patients may see the same OBGYN from their teenage years onward.

Watch an Overview of Obstetrics & Gynecology

About OBGYN / Obstetrics & Gynecology

Obstetrics & gynecology is a medical specialty that provides comprehensive care for the female reproductive system – in both the pregnant and non-pregnant states. The specialty of obstetrics encompasses the comprehensive care for pregnant women and any complications arising from labor, delivery and pregnancy; gynecology is the provision of medical care for the female reproductive system in a non-pregnant state. Physicians that practice both obstetrics and gynecology are commonly referred to as OB/GYNs or OBGYNs, or some variation thereof. An OBGYN will typically establish a close relationship with their patients and provides ongoing care – and in some cases, lifelong care.

When a patient is pregnant, OBGYNs generally provide care from the time of conception to the time of childbirth. These physicians begin their relationships with their patients by confirming the pregnancy, prescribing prenatal vitamins and minerals, and educating patients on the proper way to care for their growing fetus. OBGYNs monitor the progress of the fetus through various testing procedures, such as blood tests, amniotic fluid screenings, and maternal serum screenings. They may perform ultrasounds to reveal the sex of the baby, as well as to monitor the growth of the fetus (which also aids in estimating the due date of the baby). Ultrasounds are also utilized as preventive procedures, as they allow the physician to screen for abnormalities or complications in prenatal functioning. OBGYNs use their extensive knowledge and skills in the delivery room, helping to facilitate a healthy birthing process.

As an OBGYN, the physician is trained to care for all aspects of the reproductive system in women (gynecologic care), including care for female patients who are not pregnant. These physicians are trained to treat all types of complications, disorders and diseases affecting the ovaries, uterus, vagina and related structures. These may include incontinence, various forms of cancer, infertility and all types of infections.

OBGYN / Obstetrics & Gynecology Education & Training

Training to become an obstetrician/gynecologist, or OBGYN, begins with the completion of a bachelor’s degree before graduation from an accredited medical school with an MD or DO degree. Following the completion of medical school the physician must complete a four year residency program in obstetrics & gynecology, where the physician trains under the supervision of experienced, licensed OBGYNs.

During the residency, the resident physician will be trained in the diagnostic and treatment techniques related to gynecologic oncology and urology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and maternal-fetal medicine. OBGYN physicians are trained to monitor pregnancies, perform deliveries and conduct a wide range of gynecological procedures, among training in other skills pertinent to the specialty.

Following successful completion of the obstetrics & gynecology residency at a hospital, most physicians seek board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) by passing an examination. While most obstetricians are also trained as gynecologists (known as OBGYNs), some physicians choose to seek training and specialize in one area or the other. All OBGYNs must be issued a medical license in the state(s) they wish to practice before providing medical care to patients.