Women who have chronic gynecological conditions should see an OB/GYN for regular, ongoing care. For example, if a woman has endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a gynecologist has more expertise in managing these conditions. While a primary care provider can offer some treatment options, an OB/GYN is more specialized in this area.
What about other health problems?
If a woman doesn’t have any other health issues, a gynecologist can likely provide all the necessary annual care. Cholesterol checks, Pap smears, contraception, vaccines, and weight loss are all within the realm of what an OB/GYN can cover. If a woman has additional health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, a primary care provider has more expertise in managing these health issues.
Which provider is best?
For some women, seeing both providers each year will be the best choice. Women who have a particularly good relationship with the gynecologist and who have no preexisting general health conditions may get all needed care in a yearly OB/GYN visit. For others, an annual primary care provider visit may be the best choice. Primary care providers can still advise on contraception and perform Pap smears but are not always the best choice for women with chronic reproductive health conditions.
When to transition to an OB/GYN
Women who are trying to get pregnant benefit from seeing an OB/GYN, as these specialists have expertise in reproductive health issues for women. If a woman is having trouble getting pregnant, scheduling an appointment with a gynecologist is often the first step. Additionally, women who are approaching menopause often benefit from the specialized treatments of an OB/GYN.
Well-woman care for your whole life
The best bet is to have a trusted primary care provider and OB/GYN. Many women can get all the necessary well-woman care from an OB/GYN. But primary care providers will offer more specialty care related to chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. The bottom line is that having a healthy relationship with any doctor is a crucial part of excellent well-woman care. For more information or questions, speak with a healthcare provider.