The Power Of Two

Women Can Benefit From Seeing Both A Primary Care Physician and a Gynecologist

It’s a question often asked by women: “If I visit my primary care physician every year, should I also see a gynecologist?”

The answer is a definite “Yes” for many women. Having both an annual physical exam performed by your primary care physician (an internist or family practice physician) AND a well-woman exam when you see a gynecologist offers many benefits. That’s because each medical practice provides a unique perspective on a woman’s health.

For example, if you’re planning to start a family or have more children in the future, it’s a good idea to have a relationship with an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) with whom you already feel comfortable. An OB-GYN can help identify factors that may put a pregnancy at higher risk. He or she can offer preconception counseling and discuss any fertility issues as well as review and counsel a woman on her contraception options. The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians says that nearly every woman age 21 and older should have an annual well-woman visit with her OB-GYN. An OB-GYN has extensive experience in performing pelvic exams and Pap tests. Even after menopause, women can still benefit from gynecological care.

On the other hand, your primary care physician is specifically trained to take care of your overall health by diagnosing and treating a full range of medical problems. A visit to your primary care physician is an opportunity to talk about any lifestyle issues (diet, exercise, stress) that can affect your health and to make sure you are up-to-date with your screening tests and immunizations.