A gynaecologist is a medical practitioner specializing in the treatment of diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system. Many gynaecologists also practise obstetrics, a branch of medicine concerned with childbirth and midwifery. Patients are sometimes referred to gynaecologists by their general practitioner (doctor) or they may choose to go straight to a gynaecologist on their own.
Gynaecologists generally start examining patients before they become pregnant and perform routine pap smears, diagnose sexually transmitted diseases, cancers of the reproductive organs, and perform serious operations, such as hysterectomies.
They collect, record and maintain patient information, such as medical histories, reports and examination results. They analyse records, reports, test results or examination information to diagnose the medical condition of the patient, and then explain procedures and discuss test results or prescribed treatments with the patients. They monitor the patients' conditions and progress and re-evaluate treatment if necessary. They give advice to patients and community members concerning diet, activity, hygiene and disease prevention.
Those working as obstetricians diagnose and closely monitor women during their pregnancies, during the prenatal, natal and postnatal periods, and offer advice for healthy living during their nine-month term. They are also responsible for diagnosing any abnormalities with the foetus or in the woman’s health during pregnancy and the delivery stage. The birthing process, long considered to be one of the most ancient and sacred medical arts, involves everything from the initial diagnoses to the post-natal process. Pregnant women must visit the obstetrician regularly for ultrasounds, and other planning and health consultations. Where necessary, they perform caesarean sections or other surgical procedures as needed, to preserve the patients' health and deliver the babies safely.
They also need to direct and coordinate activities of nurses, students, specialists, therapists and other medical staff and consult with or provide consulting services to other physicians. They refer patients to other medical specialists or practitioners when necessary. They may plan, implement or administer health programmes in hospitals, businesses or communities for prevention and treatment of injuries or illnesses. Some also conduct research to develop or test medications, treatments or procedures to prevent or control disease or injury.
Gynaecologists may also specialise in one of the following subspecialties: critical care medicine, gynaecologic oncology, maternal-foetal medicine or reproductive endocrinology.