Building strong, open relationships with your primary care providers is one of the best ways to ensure good health now and in the future. For a woman, the relationship between you and your OB/GYN is, perhaps, one of the most important.
Your OB/GYN will be an advocate for your personal wellness throughout every stage in life – from your family planning years to your menopausal years and onward. The inherent longevity of this relationship is just one of the reasons that choosing an OB/GYN is such an important and highly personal decision for women.
Here are three simple steps that every woman should take before choosing a new OB/GYN or women’s health physician:
Do Your Homework
When you’re searching for an OB/GYN, or for any new physician, there are several logistical aspects of your care that should always be taken into consideration.
- Hospital Location – It may seem obvious, but as you search for physicians in your area, it is important to make sure that their services are actually available, well, in your area. Many physicians belong to larger care networks that may expand well outside of your city or hometown. Double check their office hours and hospital location before signing up as a new patient to ensure that you’ll have access to care when and where you need it.
- Insurance Coverage – Again, while it may sound like a given, making sure that your new physician or specialist operates within your coverage network is crucial, especially for a physician that will, presumably, be caring for you throughout the entire course of your life.
- Patient Services – Your actual physician isn’t the only aspect of this decision that will impact the quality of care you receive. It can be helpful to look into the additional patient care services at the hospital or clinic that your physician partners with. What does the patient experience look like? How satisfied are other patients? Are online women’s health resources available?
Identify Your Care Needs
Obstetrics and gynecology are two separate specialties. While they are almost always combined, knowing the differences between the two can help you identify the specific type of care you’re looking for, and can help you narrow down your physician search options.
Gynecology – A gynecologist is a physician who focuses on all aspects of women’s health, reproductive and otherwise. These physicians conduct annual checkups, and will help you stay healthy in the long run by providing routine preventive screenings like mammograms, pap smears, and physical exams.
Obstetrics – An obstetrician is a physician who focuses on pregnancy specifically. Your obstetrician is someone who addresses health concerns regarding conception, and will be the one who monitors your health (and your baby’s) throughout each stage of your pregnancy. They also provide pre- and post-natal care, and are often the physician that accompanies you during delivery. No matter the circumstances, our obstetrics physicians and nurses are dedicated to keeping you and your baby healthy, happy, and safe throughout every stage of your labor and delivery journey.
Most physicians specialize in both of these fields, but not all. Some gynecologists, for example, specialize in the care of women during and after menopause. Make sure you know the clinical interest and expertise of your physician before you decide to make an appointment.
Find the Right Fit
The conversations you have with your Ob/Gyn can be sensitive. At some point in their lives, many women will have questions about sexuality, fertility, physical changes, and many other topics that can be difficult to talk about—even with your doctor. So it’s important that you find someone who you feel comfortable talking to and who you’re confident hears, understands and respects your concerns. If you’re being cared for by someone who you don’t feel comfortable talking to, don’t be afraid to find a new physician. Open, honest conversations will ensure your doctor understands your health needs and can treat them appropriately.
Main Line Health’s Obstetrics and Gynecology care physicians know that it’s a privilege to play such a crucial role in your personal health, and are here for them from their first OB/GYN appointment, through maternity and beyond. We prioritize building transparent and lasting relationships with our patients so that we can ensure they receive highly-personalized and exceptional care during every stage in life.
Visit the Main Line Health website to learn more about women’s health or to find an OB/GYN physician near you.