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Sexual and reproductive health is important for quality of life. Gynecology is a medical specialty committed to the health of women and their quality of life. Reproductive disorders can influence mood and even the amount of energy you have in a day. Gynecologists focus on treating disorders that affect women and preventing common health disorders of women through education and regular checkups. Some familiar specialties of gynecology include OB/GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist), urogynecologist, gynecologic oncologist and reproductive endocrinologist.
Obstetrician/gynecologists, also known as OB/GYNs, specialize in prenatal care and pregnancy management in addition to the diagnosis and treatment of women's reproductive disorders. OB/GYNs also provide preventative care, Pap test screening and detection of sexually transmitted diseases. Training to become an obstetrician and gynecologist typically happens simultaneously. The academic process includes four years of residency after obtaining a medical degree. During the training program, students work in gynecology, gynecologic oncology, obstetrics, reproductive endocrinology and preventive and primary care.
Urogynecologists graduate medical school and complete four years of residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Additional surgical training continues after residency to develop expertise in evaluating and treating women with pelvic floor disorder. The pelvic floor is composed of muscles, ligaments, nerves and connective tissue that support the uterus, vagina, rectum and bladder. It can be damaged by childbirth, chronic disease or repeated heavy lifting. Urogynecologists treat pelvic floor disorders through reconstructive surgery as well as nonsurgical means.
Gynecologic oncologists must complete a four-year residency and a clinical fellowship. During a two- to four-year fellowship, gynecologic oncologists acquire surgical skills integral to their specialty, which is the treatment of reproductive-organ cancers. The surgical skills include urological surgery, radical pelvic surgery and gastrointestinal surgery.
A reproductive endocrinologist treats reproductive disorders, especially infertility, and her patients may sometimes include men. In addition to completing the same education and medical requirements as an OB/GYN, these specialists must complete a two- to three-year clinical fellowship in reproductive endocrinology. A reproductive endocrinologist is trained to treat hormonal disorders, menopause, pregnancy loss, infertility and menstrual problems.
Payton Pritchard is a writer, graphic designer and adjunct instructor. She got her start in journalism in 1996 writing and designing newsletters and writing for newspaper before switching to radio news for eight years. Pritchard has a Bachelor of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in journalism and graphic design from Truman State University and Sullivan College of Technology and Design, respectively.