Healthcare information is more accessible than ever — however, with this accessibility, it may be confusing to know who you should seek medical advice from and when you should look for support.
To help with your healthcare decisions, we share more about what a women’s health GP and a Ob-Gyn (Obstetrics & Gynaecology specialist) does; and how they can help you.
Common women’s health concerns
In addition to common health conditions, such as a cold or a cough, there are certain health conditions that are more relevant to women. Common women’s health-specific conditions tend to be around reproductive health, and include:
- Issues around one’s menstrual cycle and irregular bleeding
- Gynaecological cancers
- Problems with fertility and conceiving
- Queries around birth control
Difference between GP and Ob-Gyn
Both your GP and the Ob-Gyn are well-equipped to support you, with any medical queries you may have about your health. They can provide medical advice, dispense medication, as well as conduct health screening tests. The difference lies in the level of specialised advice you may require, depending on the condition you’re seeking help for.
When to see a GP
Your GP should be your first point of contact for non-emergency and preventive health care. You can get medical advice, treatment, and ongoing support for most women’s health concerns including menstrual issues, vaginal health, family planning and birth control from most women’s health doctors. For those with a family GP, it may also feel more comfortable discussing these more sensitive topics with someone you’re familiar with.
GPs can support you with concerns, such as:
- Acute conditions and illnesses, such as treatment for UTIs
- Chronic medical conditions that require regular, routine monitoring
- Managing new pain or discomfort in your body
- Health screenings and check-ups
However, if your healthcare needs are more atypical, or may require more focused support, your GP may not be best placed to help you with your healthcare needs. Instead, they may refer you to a Ob-Gyn, for more specialised advice on your health.
When to see an Ob-Gyn
Ob-Gyns are medical professionals who specialise in women’s reproductive health as well as issues around pregnancy. You can see a Ob-Gyn for any questions or concerns about your reproductive system, menstruation and fertility problems, hormone imbalances, sexual health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and birth control.
An Ob-Gyn can also treat women of any age. Examples of what you may consult an Ob-Gyn include:
- Questions around puberty for younger girls who may be experiencing atypical development
- Annual pelvic and genitalia checks for ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids for ladies aged 21 and above
- Questions around irregular or changes in your period for ladies aged 40 and above, as it could be a sign of perimenopause
- Advice on fertility issues, if you’re having issues with conceiving a child
- Support on your pregnancy journey for mothers-to-be to ensure a smooth delivery
It can be good practice to schedule regular appointments with your Ob-Gyn, just so you can keep on top of your reproductive health as well. Routine check-ups ensure that you detect any irregular health conditions and take early action on managing these conditions, before they worsen into something more severe.
As it’s still a little taboo, it can be hard to broach the topic of reproductive health and sexual wellness, even with a doctor! However, just remember that your doctor, whether it’s a GP or an Ob-Gyn, is there to support you with any of your healthcare needs. There’s no reason to be embarrassed about asking any questions about your sexual health and wellness; and to get their advice on how you can continue to stay well.