What is The Difference Between an OB and GYN?

When it comes to women's health, there are lots of acronyms flying around, with OB and GYN being the most common ones used these days. Also known as obstetricians and gynecologists, they specialize in dealing with the health issues affecting women from puberty through menopause. 

Although they both treat women, some key differences between OBs and GYNs may help you figure out which one you should go to when scheduling an appointment. Here are the basics about what each specialty does and how it differs from the other to help you decide what's best for your next visit.

How Are They Different? 

An OB, or obstetrician, is a doctor who specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. A GYN, or gynecologist, is a doctor who specializes in women's health, including reproductive health, from the time she gets her first period through post-menopause.

Obstetricians are trained to handle different types of pregnancy complications, including: 

  • Ectopic pregnancy (when the fetus forms outside the uterus)

  • Fetal distress signs

  • Issues with the placenta

  • Preeclampsia

  • Cesarean section deliveries


Gynecologists have the knowledge to treat or diagnose various issues, such as: 

  • Vaginal infections

  • Irregular menstruation

  • Pain during sex

  • Reproductive system cancers

  • Endometriosis

  • Vaginal or cervical polyps

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Uterine fibroids

What Do They Have in Common?

Both OBs and GYNs are doctors who specialize in women's health. They both complete four years of medical school and three years of residency. During their residencies, they both take care of patients with a variety of different health concerns. The main difference between the two is that an OB also completes a fellowship in obstetrics, which focuses on pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Where Should You Go For Care?

If you're pregnant, you should go to see an OB. They are professionals who will help you before, during, and after your pregnancy — some even specialize in postpartum care. However, you should see your GYN if you're seeking regular reproductive health care. It's recommended that you see your gynecologist every year between the ages of 21 and 29. If you're in good health or not being treated for a disease, you can visit your gynecologist every other year or so after you turn 30. 

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