Is an OB/GYN considered a specialist or a primary care provider
Less than 3-minute read
(OB/GYN) is your go-to physician for all your women's health needs, but would
you call them when you have the flu, an earache, or you need stitches in your
hand after a cut? Probably not. While they're technically primary care providers,
OB/GYN is considered a specialist in women's reproductive care. Traditional PCPs,
on the other hand, offer comprehensive healthcare for general wellness and a
wide range of medical conditions.
What does an OB/GYN do?
An OB/GYN is a physician who specializes in
women's reproductive health and related disorders. OB/GYNs are specially
trained in diagnosing and treating many women's health issues, including:
- Menstrual disorders
- Ovarian cysts and pelvic masses
- Pelvic floor disorders
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Uterine fibroids
- Vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections
provide pregnancy care, including prenatal and postnatal care and labor and
delivery care. An OB/GYN can also help with family planning and birth control
A PCP focuses
on overall wellness, providing preventive services as well as diagnosing and
treating common ailments, such as back pain, headaches, and respiratory
infections such as colds and the flu. PCPs also help manage chronic conditions,
- Anxiety and depression
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
expertise in balancing multiple medications and work closely with other providers,
making referrals to specialists when necessary. Your PCP will also make sure
you receive any necessary screenings and vaccinations, such as cancer
screenings and annual flu shots.
Types of PCPs
include family medicine providers, who treat patients of all ages, and internal
medicine specialists, who specialize in adult care.
How do you know whether to see a PCP or an OB/GYN?
provided by PCPs and OB/GYNs overlap, which can make it tricky to figure out
which one to see for certain conditions. For example, PCPs can address some gynecological
conditions, such as testing for and treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). Likewise,
OB/GYNs can renew prescriptions, such as anxiety medications, and help with
general health concerns.
general, see your OB/GYN for symptoms relating to women's and reproductive
health, such as:
- Breast health concerns, such as breast pain or
- Bumps, rashes, or irritation on the outside of the vaginal area
symptoms, such as hot
flashes and vaginal dryness
- Pain during sex
- Painful, irregular, or heavy periods
- Severe pelvic pain
- Recurring symptoms of vaginal infections, such as unusual vaginal discharge
health concerns, such as sinus congestion, earaches, and symptoms of UTIs, make
an appointment with your PCP.
You should see your PCP and your OB/GYN at least once a year for annual visits, which are covered by most insurance providers. Your PCP will perform blood pressure and cholesterol checks, update vaccinations, and discuss any concerns you may have. Your OB/GYN will perform pelvic and breast exams and ensure you are up to date on women's cancer screenings, including mammograms and Pap tests.
to discuss with a PCP or OB/GYN? Find a provider at