Obstetrics and gynecology (or obstetrics and gynecology; often abbreviated to OB/GYN, OBG, O&G or Obs & Gynae) are the two surgical-medical specialties dealing with the female reproductive organs in their pregnant and non-pregnant state, respectively, and as such are often combined to form a single medical specialty and postgraduate training program. This combined training prepares the practicing OB/GYN to be adept at the surgical management of the entire scope of clinical pathology (non-malignant) involving female reproductive organs, and to provide care for both pregnant and non-pregnant patients.1 An obstetrician-gynecologist, or ob-gyn, is a doctor who specializes in the care of women. He or she has completed special training in obstetrics, which is the care of pregnant women. This includes the preconception (before pregnancy) period, pregnancy, labor and childbirth, and after a baby is born. Ob-gyns are also trained in gynecology. Gynecology covers a woman’s general health care, including care of her reproductive organs, breasts, and reproductive health. Gynecology also includes management of hormonal disorders, treatment of infections, and training in surgery to correct or treat pelvic organ or urinary tract problems. Your ob-gyn also offers preventive health care. This can help you make informed choices that prevent health problems. Preventive health care includes exams and routine tests to detect problems early, before you become sick. Since ob-gyns are trained to evaluate overall woman’s health, they provide care for a wide range of medical issues; much more than just pregnancy and problems of the reproductive system. For many women, the ob-gyn is their primary care physician-the doctor they turn to first for health care. All ob-gyns are graduates of college and an accredited medical school. Each must also complete an additional four-year course of special training called a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. This training equips the ob-gyn physician to provide general care to women, in addition to specialized care related to pregnancy and the reproductive organs. Following residency plus at least two additional years of practice, a doctor may apply for board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He or she must pass two tests to become board certified. The first is a written test covering both medical and surgical care. Passing this test demonstrates that the candidate has the necessary knowledge and skills to treat women. The second is an oral exam before a panel of national experts. This exam reviews the skills, knowledge and ability to treat different conditions, and includes a review of cases the candidate has treated during the preceding year. An ACOG Fellow is a full member and all Fellows are board certified. Founded in 1951, ACOG has over 46,000 members and is the nation’s leading group of professionals providing health care for women. The organization also offers a range of educational programs to help doctors keep up with the latest advances in women’s healthcare.2
- This information is adapted from patient education information developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.