The Role of the Gynecologist
A gynecologist treats only women and has received extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of female health disorders and diseases. To maintain health and look for early symptoms of disease, a woman should have a yearly pelvic exam.
This examination allows your GYN to evaluate the health of all female reproductive organs, including:
- Vulva – the area containing a woman’s external genital organs, including the mons pubis (tissue covering the pubic bone), labia majora (large, hair-covered lips that protect other external organs and produce secretions), labia minora (small lips inside the labia majora), Bartholin glands (fluid-secreting glands located by the vaginal opening) and clitoris (an organ associated with sexual pleasure located inside and at the top of the labia majora)
- Uterus – a pear-shaped organ located in the pelvis, also called the womb
- Cervix –lower, narrow portion of the uterus
- Fallopian tubes – two tubes that carry the egg from the ovaries to the uterus
- Bladder – the organ that collects urine
- Rectum – the distal portion of the large intestine that connects to the anus
A gynecologist is also trained to perform a number of special procedures such as, hysteroscopy and cervical cancer screening and surgical procedures including hysterectomy, surgery for pelvic organ prolapse, endometrial ablation and more.
Some gynecologists also have particular interests or skill sets to offer patients. Nathan Thomas, MD of Dallas Obstetrics and Gynecology has a special interest in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, obstetrics and bioidentical hormone replacement.
When Should a Woman See a Gynecologist?
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends girls schedule their first gynecologic visit between the ages of 13 and 15.
All women who have not had a hysterectomy should have a Pap smear every 3 years between the ages of 21 and 29. Women between the ages of 30 and 64 should have a Pap smear every 3 years and a human papilloma virus (HPV) test every 5 years.
In addition to routine visits, it is important to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist if you experience any unusual symptoms including pelvic pain, bleeding between periods or after menopause, missed periods, problem periods, unusual or persistent vaginal discharge, painful intercourse, difficulty with urination or bowel movements.
A gynecologist is a confidential source women can go to for information and advice about their reproductive health. You should be comfortable to speak freely to this health care provider about any health concerns.
Nathan Thomas, MD, is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Thomas is currently accepting new patients.