For years, the differences between women and men were always defined from a social aspect—the man leads the family, while the woman played a more submissive role. It’s this ideology that ruled the co-existences of the two sexes for hundreds of years. Today, in our modern society, equality between the two sexes has evened out to an equal playing field.
When it comes to the physical differences between a man and a woman, there will never really be equality. Men and women will always differ in anatomy, weight, shape, and height. Each will experience their own range of physical and emotional needs, and encounter varying health problems that are related to a specific sex. To take care of these needs and to rely on someone that is a trusted resource, many men will seek to find a reputable urologist, while women will see a gynecologist annually.
According to the doctors at the Women’s Specialists of Plano, a women’s health center in the north Dallas area, “While heart disease, cancer, weight management, and the risk for other diseases such as diabetes will always be a risk for both men and women, there are specific conditions that only women will have and/or experience. It’s why it’s important to find a gynecologist that is a part of a reputable women’s health center or clinic in the city you live in so that these needs can be met throughout the year. From STD infections, annual Pap smears and menopause, to birth control and pregnancy, the issues women face will always be unique to them. These reasons alone are why millions of young women begin seeing a gynecologist at a relatively early age.”
They highlight several of these reasons:
- Well Visits
Most any physician can do a physical on a woman. A gynecologist, however, has been trained to handle and deal with every specific detail associated with a woman’s health. A trained specialist for women will provide a pelvic exam, Pap smear, discuss birth control, weight issues, hormonal changes, and will follow a woman throughout her reproductive years. From the first Pap smear, to pregnancy and childbirth, all the way to menopause, a trusted OBGYN can be a faithful resource for years to come.
- Pregnancy Prevention
Something that will surely differentiate a man and a woman until the end of time is pregnancy. Millions of women in the United States visit their gynecologist each and every year to discuss pregnancy prevention, birth control, and pre-natal care for if and when a pregnancy occurs. It is a topic of discussion at most OBGYN visits until a woman has had all of her children and begins the next phase of life (menopause). A gynecologist is the best resource to discuss pregnancy and pregnancy prevention with a woman.
- HPV Virus
Genital human papillomavirus is notably the most common sexually transmitted infection among young women. There are varying types of HPV that can lead to a myriad of symptoms including pelvic pain, genital warts, and other conditions that can lead to larger problems such as cervical cancer. HPV can be prevented and it is a topic of discussion among gynecologists and their female patients. These conversations generally involve the discussion of prevention and treatment.
Once a woman is under the routine care of a gynecologist, or has access to a women’s health clinic near them, treatment for common issues such as PMS can be treated and managed. PMS occurs during a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. For some women, it can totally disrupt their normal routine. The symptoms of PMS can range from mild to severe and will include (for most women) cramping, bloating, mood swings, headaches and fatigue. Experts believe that hormones play the biggest factor in the severity of symptoms associated with PMS.
Endometriosis is somewhat common among women. It is a female health disorder that occurs when the cells that typically reside in the lining of the uterus, grow in other parts of the body. Many gynecologists offer specialized treatment for endometriosis such as endometrial ablation, hysterectomy, and other minimally invasive techniques. The most common symptoms are very heavy bleeding and cramping, irregular periods, long-lasting menstrual cycles, and problems getting pregnant (infertility).
- Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are very common among the female population. These are small, fluid-like sacs that develop and grow in the uterus. Many women may have these benign growths and not experience any symptoms, while other women may have problems associated with ovarian cysts such as bleeding, cramping, and rupture. Gynecologists treat ovarian cysts as a routine procedure and today, many progressive treatments are an option including laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery for hysterectomy.
- Vaginal Infections
Vaginal infections, such as a yeast infection, are common conditions women of all ages will experience from time to time. Bacteria and fungi are the culprits that lead to these infections among women. It is one of the most common reasons why a woman will visit her gynecologist outside of her annual visit. Discharge, itching, vaginal burning and irritation are the symptoms associated with a vaginal infection. Antibiotics can usually cure most vaginal infections effectively. A gynecologist will be able to discuss prevention techniques so that future infections can be prevented.
Thousands of women will undergo a hysterectomy in a given year. A gynecologist may recommend a hysterectomy for many reasons, including for the treatment of fibroid tumors, PID, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis. Today’s technology has allowed skilled gynecologists to do hysterectomies robotically which leads to quicker recovery and a decrease in unwanted side effects. Robotic hysterectomies are not yet offered by all gynecologists as it takes extensive training and time to be able to master the technology; it is becoming more popular and a preferred choice among women.
Every city and state has a women’s health center that can offer a doctor for a female’s medical needs. Sometimes referred to as a women’s health physician, gynecologist, or OBGYN, they all meet the same challenge—keeping a female healthy both physically and in some case, emotionally. It’s important to see your doctor annually and sometimes more often if problems or an untreated condition persists.
Some tips to finding the right OBGYN for you:
- Ask friends and family in your area for a referral. Ask them why they like their OBGYN.
- Conduct online research for a gynecologist in your area.
- Check out online health profiles for more information. Vitals and Health Grades are a good place to gather this research.
- Check out online reviews to see what other patients thing. Insider Pagers and Google Reviews usually provide good resources for online reviews.
- Check with your health insurance provider for names of local OBGYN’s they represent.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the doctor you are looking at has favorable reviews.
First impressions are everything! When you make your first appointment with your new OBGYN/Gynecologist you will want to check out many things. The office should be comforting, clean, professional and inviting; their billing staff and insurance person should be organized and effective. Wait time is always a concern with patients. While some waiting is expecting, excessively long wait times could raise a red flag and bring worry that the doctor may not have time for you or all of your needs. Your new doctor should be willing to listen to you, spend time answering your questions, and engage with you in an open and trusting manner. If you are planning to have children one day, you will want to find a gynecologist who is also an obstetrician. When you find a doctor that meets and exceeds needs like these, stay with them and a natural relationship will form that will stick with you for years and years to come.
Kristy M. Theis, Dallas, TX editorial writer for eMedical Media, and the gynecologists from the Women’s Specialists of Plano (OBGYN in North Dallas) contributed to this feature.