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What’s the Difference Between an Obstetrician and Gynecologist?

obstetrician working in the hospital while performing an ultrasound of pregnant belly, monitoring and consulting pregnant patient

The term OB-GYN encompasses two different medical fields, obstetrics, and gynecology, which both focus on women’s health. 

What are the differences between gynecologists (GYNs) and obstetricians (OBs)? 

● Obstetricians are involved with care during pre-conception, pregnancy, delivery, and immediately postpartum.

● Gynecologists are involved with the care of all women’s health issues outside of pregnancy.


OB/GYNs complete medical school and residency training programs. They learn about health in all stages of pregnancy, as well as, genetics, genetic counseling, and issues surrounding prenatal diagnosis.

Many residency rotations also include in-depth instruction on a variety of women’s health issues.

OB/GYNs can go straight into practice or continue with fellowship training for another 2-4 years to focus on a primary subspecialty.


Having trained as an OB-GYN, new physicians may choose one field or practice both fields as OB/GYNs.

● Gynecologists conduct cancer screenings, treat urinary tract issues, and much more. However, they don’t deliver babies or treat pregnant women.

● Obstetricians, on the other hand, do not treat health issues outside of pregnancy.

● OB/GYNs treat both areas and some even act as primary care physicians, instead of a family practitioner.


An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. They specialize in complications or situations that may occur during pregnancy and the birthing process, including:

● Fertility treatment

● Pre-eclampsia

● Fetal diagnostic procedures

● Ectopic pregnancies

● Fetal distress

● Cesarean sections

● Placenta issues

● NICU care (this can also be handled by a pediatrician)


Gynecologists focus on the non-pregnancy aspects of a woman’s health. Women should begin seeing a gynecologist when they become sexually active or at the age of 21 for a pap smear. 

Would you ever need to meet with a gynecologist before you become sexually active or the age of 21?

Yes, if a young woman is experiencing irregular or painful periods, she should come in immediately. 

Do you women need to continue visiting their gynecologist after menopause?

In most cases, women visit their gynecologist through menopause and beyond.

Regular gynecological visits are important for a woman’s health. Gynecologists perform standard examinations, such as Pap smears and pelvic exams. Gynecologists specialize in a variety of conditions, including:

● Cancer of the female reproductive system


● Yeast or bacterial infections

Painful intercourse

Painful or irregular menstruation

● Other menopause-related diseases


● Vaginal and cervical polyps


Ovarian cysts

In addition, a gynecologist performs surgery on reproductive organs. Including:

Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus

Oophorectomy: Removal of the ovaries

Salpingectomy: Removal of the fallopian tubes

● Tubal ligation: Medical female sterilization

● Cone biopsy: A type of cervical biopsy where they remove abnormal tissue that is high in the cervical canal.

● Labiaplasty: Surgical reshaping of the labia minora and/or the labia majora


According to the Journal for Women’s Health, the demand for women’s health practitioners is growing in all fields. OB/GYNs may practice in a multitude of settings, such as community or private practices, academic environments, and hospitals. Obstetricians typically work long and unpredictable shifts to oblige the uncertain nature of pregnancy and delivery. To lighten the burden, many practices and hospitals share some obstetric responsibilities with other institutions.

Why Should You Choose Dr. Davis?

Dr. Davis is a leading women’s health specialist who focuses on specialty gynecological issues. If you’re dealing with specialty gynecological issues, you want Dr. Davis as your health care practitioner. He ensures that his patients get the care they deserve. Please give our office a call to schedule an appointment at 530-345-0064, extension 281. 

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