When You Should See A Women’s Health Doctor
Some of the services provided by a General Practitioner and OB-GYN overlap when it comes to women’s health, but both providers can support and help you online anytime.
With the variety of healthcare experts and specializations available, it can be confusing to know who and when you should consult — especially around more sensitive issues, like your reproductive health.
We've outlined some of the most prevalent women's health issues and shared more about when you should speak to a general practitioner (GP) and when it’s better to consult an OB-GYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology specialist).
5 Common women's health issues
1. Menstrual issues
Discomfort caused by periods can be so excruciating for some women that they interfere with their daily life. Menstrual issues that women commonly experience include painful periods and abnormal uterine bleeding. Severe period cramps aren’t normal and could be a symptom of endometriosis.
2. Vaginal health
Bacteria build-up can lead to infections such as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and yeast infection. UTI develops when microbes such as E. coli enter the urinary tract and cause infection, while yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in your private area.
3. Family planning and contraceptives
Along with preventing unplanned pregnancies, regular birth control options, such as the monthly pill or patch, have many other benefits. Hormonal acne is less common, period cramps and flow are easier to manage, and PMS symptoms are less severe.
Some women may experience some side effects including nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, and mood swings, which should go away after your body adjusts to being on birth control for a few months.
4. Gynecological cancer concerns
Gynecological cancer refers to cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. One of the most common types of cancer among women is cervical cancer. But if caught early enough, it is highly preventable and can be effectively treated. It is most frequently spread through sexual contact and is brought on by different strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
5. Menopausal health
Menopause refers to the permanent ending of one’s menstrual cycle, and it shouldn't be a scary time for anyone. Your body will likely change as a result of your ovaries producing less estrogen and progesterone than usual. In the months and years before menopause, the majority of women have at least a few symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms are vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, or sleep issues.
When to see a GP
Your GP is 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 contraceptives.
While a GP can assist you with a range of care depending on your health needs or concerns, they can also put you in touch with an OB-GYN if you require a second opinion, particularly if you need more specialized advice on your reproductive health.
When to see an OB-GYN
OB-GYNs are medical professionals who specialize in women’s reproductive health as well as issues around pregnancy. You can see an OB-GYN for any questions or concerns about the 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 at any age. In general, ladies by the age of 13 may require evaluation if they have not developed secondary sexual features like breasts and pubic hair. It is also necessary to see a gynecologist if pubic and breast hair appears by the time she is 15 years old but hasn't started menstruating. Additionally, an HPV vaccination is advised throughout the early adolescent years to help prevent cervical cancer.
By the age of 21, it is recommended to begin annual pelvic exams and genitalia evaluations to check for any ovarian cysts, STIs, uterine fibroids, or early-stage cancer, as well as HPV and Pap tests, to screen for cervical cancer.
Women at 40 or even younger who experience irregular periods, heavier or lighter flows, and weight gain should make an appointment as perimenopause may begin as early as 10 years before menopause. One of the best things you can do to be healthy at this point in your life is to schedule regular consultations with a gynecologist.
See an expert online
We understand that some health concerns could be more challenging to discuss than others, particularly when they concern sensitive topics like reproductive and women’s health. However, there shouldn't be any questions that are too difficult to ask; your GP and OB-GYN are here to support you with any queries that you have.
The good news is that you can connect with a doctor and specialist online. On the Doctor Anywhere app, see a women’s health GP anytime you need or make an appointment with an OB-GYN over video-call.