Difference Between Gynecologist & Obstetrician

The fields of gynecology and obstetrics are closely related and often combined by medical practices to provide broader services for women. There is a difference between these two sub-specialties due to the extra care required for women who are pregnant.

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Comparing Gynecologists to Obstetricians

Gynecologists and obstetricians have commonly received the same medical training, so these professions generally go hand-in-hand. There is a significant difference between the sub-specialties of gynecology and obstetrics, however; while both doctors deal with issues related to female fertility and reproductive health, only obstetricians typically handle pregnancy-related issues, along with childbirth. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between these medical professionals.

Job Title Education Requirements Mean Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Gynecologist Doctoral or Professional Degree $234,310 10-19%
Obstetrician Doctoral or Professional Degree $234,310 10-19%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Gynecologists vs. Obstetricians

These professionals usually complete the same training throughout medical school and have basically the same qualifications. Some doctors may prefer to focus on gynecology, while others choose to work in obstetrics. Gynecologists and obstetricians deal with women's reproductive health and treat conditions or illnesses that can arise with the related organs. They also tend to the breasts to examine for any tumors or abnormalities that may surface. While both handle reproductive matters, obstetricians continue with the health of mothers and fetuses through pregnancy and childbirth. Obstetricians serve women mainly during their child-bearing years, while gynecologists treat patients that range from puberty up through menopause.

Gynecologist

Gynecologists manage women's reproductive health care and often times are responsible as a primary doctor for women. They handle routine check-ups for reproductive health and prescribe medications for illnesses that are sexually transmitted or related to the reproductive system. These doctors also perform routine preventive care measures such as pap tests, which look for cells in the cervix and uterus that are atypical. Gynecologists also check patients' breasts to ensure there are no nodules or cysts that may indicate tumors or cancer and perform biopsies when indicated.

Job responsibilities of a gynecologist include:

  • Provide birth control as a preventative measure
  • Do pelvic exams
  • Manage hormonal disorders
  • Treat irregular menstrual cycles
  • Perform surgeries for a variety of conditions
  • Offer services to women in all life stages

Obstetrician

Obstetricians are trained in all aspects of women's reproductive health, but they also provide services directly related to pregnancy, childbirth, and afterwards. They handle the check-ups of the fetus as it progresses through the pregnancy. These doctors treat any issues related to the pregnancy as they occur. They provide postpartum birth control in the form of tubal ligation or in less permanent forms.

Job responsibilities of an obstetrician include:

  • Perform ultrasounds of the growing fetus
  • Take measurements as the fetus grows
  • Advise pregnant patients on exercise and diet
  • Provide genetic counseling for parents
  • Guide patients through labor and deliver infants
  • Perform hysterectomies

Related Careers

If you are interested in the areas of obstetrics or gynecology, you may also be interested in a career in urology, as it is still in the medical field of reproductive health. You can also look into the profession of neonatal nursing, if you are interested in obstetrics because of the opportunity of working with infants.

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