12.JAN.2021 2 MIN READ | 2 MIN READ

It is commonly believed that women only start seeing an obstetrician & gynaecologist when they are pregnant. In reality, these specialists do more than just help you through your pregnancy. Read on to find out more.

What do gynaecologists do?

Gynaecologists specialise in managing women’s conditions associated with the female reproductive system, and not just childbirth.

These conditions include:

  • lumps and bumps of the womb and ovary called fibroids and ovarian cysts

  • menstruation irregularities or pain

  • bothersome vaginal discharge and infections

  • urinary disturbances and womb prolapse

  • hormonal imbalances and menopause issues

  • cancers of the reproductive system

How are they different from obstetricians?

Obstetricians specialise in helping women through their pregnancies and childbirth. They ensure both mother and baby are in good health throughout the pregnancy.

Though most gynaecologists also take care of pregnant women, some gynaecologists do not see pregnant women. These gynaecologists usually have advanced training in their field of sub-speciality and will focus on core interests, such as:

  • Cancer management

  • Reproductive medicine and subfertility

  • Urinary problems and womb prolapse, called urogynaecology

  • Minimally invasive surgery to undertake surgery through small keyhole cuts

Common medical issues that gynaecologists treat

Common conditions
The common medical issues that gynaecologists treat are:

Menstruation issues

A woman’s menstrual cycle is an indicator of how healthy her reproductive system is. Symptoms such as a menstrual flow that is excessively heavy, or too light, inconsistent, or has stopped completely, may be signs of a menstrual issue. This is where a gynaecologist will be able provide an accurate diagnosis and propose a suitable treatment plan. In most cases, medication alone will be able to help regulate the menstrual cycle and get it back on track.

Ovarian cysts

It is common for fluid-filled sacs (cysts) to grow on the surface of the ovaries. These cysts are usually benign and go away on their own without any medical intervention. Most times, women won’t even realise that they were there.

However, some ovarian cysts can grow larger in size and become extremely painful, specifically the ones that burst. Pain and discomfort is one of the key symptoms women will notice and seek medical attention for. In some instances, your gynaecologist might need to surgically remove these cysts.

Fibroids

Fibroids are benign tumours that develop on the walls of the uterus. Although they are non-cancerous, they may still cause significant problems as they grow in size. They may lead to pressure symptoms in the pelvis and heavy menstrual bleeding.

When to see a gynaecologist

Girls aged 13 – 15 years can consider making their first appointment with a gynaecologist for general consultation on women’s health, the menstrual cycle and, in some cases, facts about fertility prevention and preservation.

From the age of 25, women can start seeing a gynaecologist for a women’s health screening, pelvic ultrasound and PAP smears. They should return for annual checks if they are sexually active, as well as for regular PAP smears every 3 years. In between the annual checks, the gynaecologist can be consulted if unusual symptoms are experienced, like:

  • Heavy and irregular menstrual cycles

  • Menstrual pain or pain during sexual intercourse

  • Pelvic discomfort and pressure symptoms

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

 

Article reviewed by Dr Anthony Siow, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital

Reference 

Gynecologists: When to visit and what to expect. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288354

What is the difference between a gynecologist, obstetrician, and an ob-gyn?. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/women/qa/what-is-the-difference-between-a-gynecologist-obstetrician-and-an-obgyn

What Is an Obstetrician. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/what-is-an-obstetrician-twins#1


Ovarian cysts. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cysts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353405

Fibroids. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/uterine-fibroids#_noheaderprefixedcontent

Menstrual Problems. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/menstrual-problems

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Information for Women. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/women

What is an OB-GYN?. Retrieved on 16 January 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324292#when-should-someone-see-an-ob-gyn

Your First Gynaecologic Visit. Retrieved on 19 January 2021 from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/your-first-gynecologic-visit

12.JAN.2021
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Siow Yew Ming Anthony
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Gleneagles Hospital

Dr. Siow had more than 15 years of institutional practice before setting up ASC Clinic for Women at Gleneagles Medical Centre. He graduated from the Medical School of National University of Singapore, obtained his Masters Degree in Year 2000 and became a Member of the Royal Australia & New Zealand College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists in United Kingdom and Academy of Medicine, Singapore.