A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in women's reproductive health. Obstetricians care for women during their pregnancy and just after the baby is born. They also deliver babies. An ob-gyn is trained to do all of these things.
Your ob-gyn will deal with some of the most important health issues in your life, including birth control, childbirth, and menopause. An ob-gyn can also screen for cancer, treat infections, and perform surgery for pelvic organ or urinary tract problems.
By Amy Engeler
At 3 a.m., with all the houses dark up and down her winding suburban street in West Warwick, Rhode Island, Jo-Ann Frey, 37, lights a candle so she can see well enough to dust her furniture. Careful not to turn on any lights or make noise that might wake up her family, she drifts from room to room with her candle and cleaning supplies, waiting until she feels sleepy enough to climb back into bed. That feeling doesn't come -- and when she hears the alarm in the bedroom go off...
Because ob-gyns deal with such personal and sensitive health issues, the thought of seeing one, especially for the first time, may be troubling to some women. You might be nervous or embarrassed at having a doctor see the most private parts of your body. Or you may be reluctant to discuss your most intimate issues with an ob-gyn.
To take the dread out of your annual appointments, here are some tips on finding an ob-gyn you feel comfortable with and a preview of what to expect at your checkups.
Finding an Ob-Gyn You Trust
You wouldn't want to trust just anyone with the most sensitive parts of your body. That's why you need to think carefully about your choice of an ob-gyn.
Don't just randomly pull a doctor's name off your health insurance list. Get a referral from a friend, family member, or your primary care provider. Usually, your primary care provider can manage most screening procedures and will have a good referral resource if a specialist is needed.
As you're making a decision, consider whether you would prefer a male or female gynecologist. Some women are more comfortable going to a woman because they will have to undress completely during the exam.
Meet with the ob-gyn before making a decision. Ask about his or her medical experience, certification, and attitude about important reproductive issues, like birth control.