Obstetrics and gynaecology
Obstetrics and gynaecology are two overlapping fields of medicine that focus on the female reproductive system's health at different stages of a woman's life. Obstetrics focuses on pregnancy and childbirth, while gynaecology addresses non-pregnancy-related health concerns from puberty to post-menopause.
Obstetrics and gynaecology are often combined into a single specialty in medical practice due to the significant overlap in issues concerning female reproductive health. This combined practice aims to address women's health needs from puberty through menopause and beyond.
Obstetrics focuses on managing women's health during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Obstetricians oversee prenatal care, monitor the health of both mother and fetus, manage labor and delivery, and provide postpartum care. Obstetricians also manage high-risk pregnancies and can perform surgical interventions during delivery if necessary.
Gynaecology addresses the health of the female reproductive system—namely the uterus, ovaries, and vagina—at all stages of life, not just during pregnancy. Gynaecologists diagnose and treat disorders such as menstrual irregularities, pelvic pain, uterine fibroids, and cervical dysplasia. They also provide preventive care, including contraception counseling and regular screening for sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer.
Specializations and Subspecialties
- Beyond general obstetrics and gynaecology, physicians may further specialize in areas such as:
- Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Focuses on the management of high-risk pregnancies.
- Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility: Addresses hormonal disorders and infertility.
- Gynaecologic Oncology: Specializes in the treatment of gynaecological cancers.
- Urogynaecology or Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery: Deals with urinary and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
Common procedures in obstetrics and gynaecology include Cesarean section, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and procedures for diagnosing and treating conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids. Obstetricians and gynaecologists may also perform procedures like colposcopy, laparoscopy, and hysteroscopy.
Training and Education
Physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynaecology undergo extensive training beyond medical school, typically a four-year residency in the United States. Additional subspecialty training, known as a fellowship, may last 2-4 years.
- Dutta, D. C.. (2013). Textbook of Obstetrics. New Central Book Agency.
- Cunningham, F. G., et al. (2018). Williams Obstetrics (25th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
- Berek, J. S.. (2019). Berek & Novak's Gynecology (16th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.
- Committee on Gynecologic Practice. (2017). Committee Opinion No. 694: Management of Mesh and Graft Complications in Gynecologic Surgery. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 129(4), e102-e108.
- Te Linde, R. W., & Rock, J. A. (2015). Te Linde's Operative Gynecology (11th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.
- Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. (2023). ACGME Program Requirements for Graduate Medical Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD