Gynecology is the specialty of diseases of the female reproductive system. gynecology is typically a consultant specialty. In most countries, women must see a general practitioner first. If their condition requires knowledge or equipment unavailable to the GP, they are referred to a gynecologist. However, in the United States, law and many health insurance plans allow gynecologists to provide primary care, and some women select that option.
As in all of medicine, the main tools of diagnosis are clinical history and examination. Gynecological examination is special in that it is quite intimate, and that it involves special equipment -- the speculum. The speculum consists of two hinged blades of flat metal, which are used to open the vagina, to permit examination of the cervix uteri. Gynecologists may also do a bimanual examination (one hand on the abdomen, two fingers in the vagina), to palpate the uterus and ovaries. They may occasionally do a rectal exam. Male gynecologists often have a female chaperone (nurse or medical student) for their examination. Virgins are not usually examined vaginally. An abdominal ultrasound is used normally to confirm the bimanual examination.
Obstetrics is the surgical specialty dealing with the care of a woman and her offspring during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (the period shortly after birth).
In obstetric practice, the obstetrician will see a pregnant woman on a regular basis as her pregnancy progresses. The exact schedule varies depending on resources and risk factors, such as diabetes. See more on Obstetrics here.
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