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Women’s healthcare needs change a great deal at different stages of their lives. You may require a number of different doctors for your needs. You may even see multiple doctors for primary care. Alternately, you may see a doctor for gynecologic care and not for other needs.
It’s a good idea to prepare questions about your health needs when you visit your doctor. The questions you should ask will depend on the type of care you’re going to receive.
A primary care provider (PCP) is the main doctor many women see. PCPs are often either family medicine doctors or internal medicine doctors. They treat common illnesses such as colds and minor infections. They also manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure. They serve as a home base for your medical care. Your PCP maintains all your health history in one place. Depending on their training, many primary care physicians can manage most health issues of women including gynecology. Many family medicine doctors practice both gynecology and obstetrics.
With certain types of insurance, a referral from your PCP is necessary to see a specialist.
Questions you might ask your PCP include the following:
A gynecologist is a doctor specializing in the female reproductive organs. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that young women make their first visit for reproductive health between the ages of 13 and 15. Women may visit yearly, or as needed, after that.
Your gynecologist may perform a Pap smear or pelvic exam, as well as any other tests you need. Young women don’t need a Pap smear until the age of 21. The first visit for reproductive health is often to assess your overall health and answer questions about your changing body. Depending on your gynecologist’s training, they may be comfortable being your PCP as well.
Questions you might ask your gynecologist include:
An obstetrician is a doctor specializing in pregnancy and childbirth. Most obstetricians are also gynecologists. Some obstetricians only provide medical care for women who are pregnant.
Your obstetrician will guide you through the entire process of pregnancy. They’ll also help you manage any pregnancy complications.
Some questions you might consider asking your obstetrician include the following:
A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating skin conditions. Dermatologists also treat conditions relating to hair and nails. A dermatologist can help women manage conditions like:
Your dermatologist can also conduct a full-body skin check for moles. They’ll do this to identify the early warning signs of melanoma.
Questions you might ask your dermatologist include:
An ophthalmologist is a doctor of medicine, or M.D., who specializes in the treatment of eyes and related structures. Ophthalmologists treat serious eye conditions that require surgery. You may also see an ophthalmologist for regular eye exams and prescription lenses.
An optometrist is a healthcare professional trained to deliver eye and vision care. Optometrists have a doctor of optometry, or O.D., degree instead of an M.D. degree. Optometrists generally act as your primary doctor for eye care. You may visit one annually to get your vision checked. Most of the time, an optometrist will be the one to prescribe any corrective eyewear you may need.
Questions you might ask an eye specialist include the following:
Dentists take care of your teeth and provide any oral healthcare you need. Good oral health plays an important role in your overall health. You should visit your dentist for a cleaning and dental checkup every six months.
Questions you might ask your dentist include the following:
Your healthcare team is there to support you through the stages of your life and to help you live a healthy life. Be sure to ask questions and use the resources your doctors provide to make health decisions that benefit you in both the short and long term.
Written by: The Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Jun 15, 2016: Judith Marcin, MD
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