Definition and Overview
Gynaecology consultation is a routine and often diagnostic procedure performed by gynecologists to assess the general condition of the female reproductive system and determine the presence of diseases and infections. It may also relate to fertility and to a certain extent, preconception, prenatal, and maternal care.
This type of consultation has become more and more important due to the possible increased risk of exposure of women to infections such as sexually transmitted diseases and cancers. At least 1 million women in the United States have been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease while about 5 million of those in childbearing age, which is from 15 to 49 years old, suffer from endometriosis. Gynaecological cancers such as ovarian cancer may kill thousands of women annually, although they may be treated early or prevented through regular consultations and screenings.
The doctor who carries out the consultation is referred to as a gynaecologist. Sometimes gynecologists are called obstetricians, but they are actually not the same. While both receive intensive medical training on the female reproductive system, the scope is more expansive with obstetrics. Obstetricians handle maternal and pre-natal care. They also lead in the delivery of the baby. Both, however, can work hand in hand in taking care of the patient. The gynaecologist may help women be more capable and comfortable bearing the child. Once the woman is already pregnant, she may then be referred to an obstetrician.
On the other hand, more than 85% of gynecologists also practice obstetrics, which means they can also deliver babies. These health providers are then referred to as OB-GYN.
Who Needs It and Expected Results
Gynecologic consultation is recommended for women who have been diagnosed with or believed to be suffering from any condition that affects parts of the female reproductive system such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
The consultation may also be necessary as part of gynecological screening, including but not limited to breast, pelvic, abdominal, vaginal, uterine, and rectal, which can also have a profound effect or can be linked to the symptoms affecting the reproductive system.
Women who want to conceive a child may also work closely with gynaecologists, especially since certain conditions can cause infertility. These include the presence of immature eggs, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis. Meanwhile, if the woman is already pregnant, an OB-GYN can provide the necessary maternal care to help the mother-to-be prepare for childbirth, carry the baby to full term, and ultimately deliver a healthy baby. In certain instances, they may recommend genetic screening to determine if the baby has certain genetic or congenital disorders.
Women don’t have to be sick or pregnant to undergo a gynaecology consultation. If the woman is sexually active, is already menstruating, or has a family history of reproductive problems, she may go to a gynaecologist for routine screening, preventive programs, family planning, and contraception.
How Does It Work?
Although women can go to a gynaecologist for standard care, many prefer to visit only when they have complaints or symptoms such as vaginal discharge, cysts or warts in the genitals, pain during urination, irregular bleeding, and pain in the lower abdomen or lower back.
The gynaecologist begins by getting complete details of the symptoms felt by the patient. During the consultation, the patient’s medical records, previously diagnosed conditions, medications taken and family history will also be discussed. Before making any diagnosis, various tests are typically performed. These include pelvic exams, Pap smear (where a sample of cervical tissue is obtained through scraping), and breast and abdominal exams. The size and shape of the uterus may also be checked by pressing two fingers in the abdominal area above the uterus. Vital measurements such as blood pressure and heart rate, as well as height and weight, will also be obtained.
Imaging tests may also be recommended if the test results remain inconclusive. Options include MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound, all of which are noninvasive.
During the consultation, the gynaecologist may also provide vaccinations against cervical cancer.
Possible Risks and Complications
Most of the tests performed during the consultation are standard or routine and are therefore generally safe. If there are complications, they are often minor. One of the common complaints is discomfort especially when a speculum is inserted into the vagina or when breasts and abdomen are pressed. In a rectal exam, the patient may feel as if she’s about to have a bowel movement, although the sensation doesn’t last very long. There may also be minor bleeding and discharge.
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