What Is a Gynecologist? What They Do, What to Expect at the Gynecologist

A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in female reproductive health. They diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, and vulva. Gynecologists also provide preventive care, such as Pap tests and pelvic exams.

What does a gynecologist do?

Gynecologists provide a wide range of services, including:

  • Preventive care: This includes Pap tests, pelvic exams, and breast exams. Pap tests and pelvic exams can help to detect cervical cancer and other reproductive health problems early on, when they are most treatable. Breast exams can help to detect breast cancer early.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of reproductive health problems: Gynecologists can diagnose and treat a variety of reproductive health problems, including:
    • Menstrual disorders, such as heavy bleeding, irregular periods, and painful periods
    • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    • Infertility
    • Endometriosis
    • Pelvic pain
    • Vaginal infections
    • Uterine fibroids
    • Ovarian cysts
    • Cancer of the cervix, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes
  • Pregnancy care: Gynecologists can provide prenatal care for pregnant women. This includes regular checkups, ultrasounds, and blood tests to monitor the health of the mother and baby. Gynecologists can also deliver babies.

When should I see a gynecologist?

You should see a gynecologist for routine preventive care, such as Pap tests and pelvic exams, starting at age 21. You should also see a gynecologist if you have any concerns about your reproductive health, such as:

  • Abnormal bleeding or spotting
  • Painful periods
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal discharge or odor
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Pain during sex
  • Symptoms of menopause

What to expect at your first gynecologist appointment

At your first gynecologist appointment, you can expect to:

  • Discuss your medical history and family history
  • Have a physical exam, including a pelvic exam
  • Have a Pap test, if it is due
  • Discuss your birth control options, if desired
  • Talk to your gynecologist about any concerns you have about your reproductive health

Your gynecologist will be able to answer your questions and provide you with the care you need.