Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Blurred Line | Marla Ahlgrimm Explains the Difference Between a Primary Care Physician versus an OB/GYN

Recent years have demonstrated the trend of women using their OB/GYN in the role of primary health care provider, and vice versa. Here, acclaimed women’s healthcare expert, author, and entrepreneur Marla Ahlgrimm explains the difference between the two.

Q: Why do women tend to use their OB/GYN for primary care needs?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently published a study showing that nearly 50% of reproductive-aged women consider their OB/GYN to be their primary care physician. This is partly due to the comfort levels and relationships forged over time with the OB/GYN.

Q: Is a doctor certified in women’s reproductive health qualified to act as a general physician?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Obstetricians and gynecologists are required to complete coursework on primary care. In order to obtain their medical license, these physicians must complete up to six months of general medical training during their four-year residency period. Twenty percent of the OB/GYN’s Board Certification is in general medicine/primary healthcare.

Q: Do PCPs offer gynecological services?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Many, yes. Though not required to provide reproductive health services, many primary care physicians do offer this to their patients. However, primary care doctors are likely to refer a woman to an OB/GYN if there are any issues including pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, or reproductive failure.

Q: Should a woman seek the care of a reproductive specialist as she enters menopause?

Marla Ahlgrimm: I believe so, yes. As a woman gets older she will notice changes in her body, hormone levels. As her healthcare requirements change, it’s important to obtain the services of a doctor specifically trained in those areas. While a healthy woman of childbearing age may rely on her primary care physician for gynecological services, these doctors may not have the specialized training to handle the complications that come naturally with age.

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