While studies show women are better at going to the doctor than their male counterparts, they still may be skipping one important check-up that could lead to a gap in care.
For many women, it is easy to believe that a yearly trip to the gynecologist is all you need. In fact, some even consider their obstetrician or gynecologist (OB-GYN) to be their primary care provider (PCP).
However, many doctors say when doing this you’re potentially missing out on vital health screenings and examinations that are pivotal in one’s health care journey. We asked some of our doctors to explain the difference between an OB-GYN and PCP as well as why seeing both providers is key to women ensuring that they are healthy and free of complications.
Q: Why do women need both an OBGYN and a primary care provider?
A: “An OB-GYN is a specialist, so they focus on one specific area of health,” Sanjana Iddyadinesh, DO, (pictured above, left), a family medicine physician at Bon Secours Primary Care – Hwy 14, explains. “You wouldn’t ask them about your heart problems just like you wouldn’t expect a cardiologist to answer a question related to menopause. However, this is where primary care providers come in.”
Dr. Iddyadinesh continues, “we focus on a range of conditions that impact overall health, but we can also refer you to a specialist and work with those providers to ensure you’re getting comprehensive care.”
Both an OB-GYN and a PCP provide preventative care, but overall, they take care of different needs. An OB-GYN focuses more on women’s reproductive health, pregnancy care, breast health and other women’s health issues ranging from infertility to menopause. Meanwhile, a PCP focuses on overall health needs, including acute treatment for conditions such as a cold or the flu, as well as management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Q: What annual screenings can an OB-GYN perform versus a primary care provider?
A: An OB-GYN will be able to provide annual female exams and screenings, based off physical health and health history. These screenings range from pap smears to mammograms.
“Patients can still come to us with any of their questions, and most of us are trained in general screenings so we can order screenings and lab work even if it’s not specifically gynecology-related,” Samy Iskandar, MD, (pictured above, right), an OB-GYN at Bon Secours OB-GYN, explains. “However, if the results come back abnormal, you’ll need a PCP to help with any further testing or management of that issue.”
A primary care provider will perform an entire body examination and may also take a deeper look at family history, immunization records and perform blood tests to check organ functions as well as for things like vitamin deficiency or infection.
Dr. Iddyadinesh adds, “our interactions may also include important health-related discussions about diet management, exercise routines, any concerning history like alcohol and drug use, and we also do depression screenings to check in on your mental health.”
Q: Where can someone start when finding a primary care provider?
A: Funny enough, your current OB-GYN is a great place to start.
“I’d say 30 to 40 percent of my patients come to me, asking for help with this,” Dr. Iskandar shares. “It happens a lot, but the good news is all of us have a wide range of doctors we can refer you to based on where you live and any preferences you have.”
He points out that he has a very close working relationship with many PCPs.
“We work really well together to get everybody what they need.”
We’re also making it quick and easy to find a primary care provider that suits your needs with our simple online tools.
Also, learn more about the women’s health services we offer at Bon Secours.