Seeing an OBGYN is an important part of female reproductive health. It is recommended that most women sees a gynecologist at least once every 12 months to ensure that their reproductive organs are healthy.
However, how often should men be getting checked? Do men have something similar to an OBGYN to check on their fertility and reproductive system? Does urology answer all of the men's questions about fertility? All of these questions and more are answered down below.
What Is an OBGYN?
An obstetrician-gynecologist is an expert in female reproductive health, pregnancy, and birth. Their services may include physical examinations, screenings, prenatal care, and surgical procedures.
What Is Obstetrics?
Obstetrics is a branch of medicine related to medical and surgical care before, during, and after childbirth. It focuses mainly on caring for and maintaining a woman's health throughout pregnancy and delivery.
Care can include:
- The postpartum period
What Is Gynecology?
Gynecology is the branch of female reproductive medicine that relates to the female reproductive system, including the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Gynecologists also screen and treat conditions of the breasts.
What Are the Specialty Fields of OBGYN?
Many people in the OBGYN field are generalists, meaning they work a wide range of services. The other 10% specialize in one or more specific areas.
People who practice maternal-fetal medicine care for patients with high-risk pregnancies, such as pregnancies affected by:
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes of pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
- Blood-clotting disorders
- Uterine abnormalities
- Premature labor
Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Endocrinologists focus on hormones and conditions that affect them. Reproductive endocrinologists concentrate on the specific hormones needed for reproduction. For example, you may consult a reproductive endocrinologist if you are having trouble conceiving.
Reproductive endocrinologists perform procedures such as:
- Fertility testing
- In vitro fertilization
- Gamete intrafallopian transfer
- Zygote intrafallopian transfer
- Embryo transfer
Oncologists focus on the specifics of diagnosing and treating cancer. A gynecologic oncologist concentrates on the cancers of the female reproductive system, including cancers of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and vulva.
Female Pelvic Medicine and Reproductive Surgery
These specialists treat women with urinary tract disorders. They may also treat the diseases of the muscle and tissue beneath a woman's pelvis (the pelvic floor).
A woman's pelvic floor may be weak for various reasons, including pregnancy, age, or certain medical conditions.
This type of specialist addresses:
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Vaginal or urinary tract infections
- Overactive bladder
- Bladder pain
- Pelvic organ prolapse
What Kinds of Procedures Do OBGYNs Perform?
Your OBGYN may be trained to do major or minor surgical procedures for both inpatient and outpatient procedures.
Some of these procedures include:
- Dilation and curettage
- Tubal ligation
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
- Removal of fibroids
An OBGYN is also trained to maintain your health before, during, and after pregnancy. They are often the specialists attending vaginal deliveries and performing C-sections.
OBGYNs also perform regular preventative testing and screening, including:
- Pelvic exams
- Pap smears
- Breast exams
- Cancer screenings
When Is the Right Time to See an OBGYN?
The best way to maintain your health is often with preventative care. Therefore, even if you are not experiencing any reproductive health issues, you may still need a preventative health visit.
You should also visit your OBGYN when your reproductive cycle starts to change, even if it is routine, planned, or expected.
These changes may include:
- Changes in menstrual cycles
- Unusual menstrual cramps
- Pain during urination
- Pain during sex
An OBGYN can also provide you with helpful information on many topics, including:
- Birth control
- Safe sex
- STI prevention
- HPV vaccination
- UTI prevention
- Pregnancy planning
- Prenatal care
- Labor and birthing options
- Genetic testing and screenings
- Postpartum depression
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Bone density
- Hormone replacement therapy
Can OBGYNs Address Fertility Issues?
Usually, visiting an OBGYN is one of the first steps in treating infertility. You should consider having a fertility evaluation if:
- You are under 35 years old and have been trying to conceive for at least a year
- You are older than 35 and have been trying to conceive for at least six months
Is There an OBGYN for Men?
OBGYNs specialize in women's sexual and reproductive health. Some physicians specialize in men's sexual and reproductive health. However, there is not a specialized field exactly like obstetrics and gynecology for men.
A man can visit a urologist if he is experiencing any problems with his reproductive health. Men need to start having examinations when they become sexually active.
An examination may include checking the testicles, scrotum, and penis for any lumps or pain. If pain is felt, this may indicate a deeper problem.
While a urologist can check on men's reproductive health, their main job is to detect problems in the urinary tract. There is, unfortunately, no specific field for men's reproductive and sexual health and wellness.
Why Is There No OBGYN for Men?
Men's reproductive health is not always discussed as often as women’s. The media and cultural dynamics may affect this. Some people believe that men do not need the same care because women's reproductive organs are more complex, but this is simply not the case. Men can have just as many problems with their reproductive system as women.
While there is no specific doctor for men's reproductive health, it is still recommended that you should be seeing a urologist or primary care physician to get regular checkups.
Is Men's Fertility Important?
Extremely. About 1 in 8 couples have infertility issues. Of those couples, a third of infertility issues are related to male factors. Without testing, some men may never know that they are infertile or have fertility issues.
What Are Some Common Causes of Male Infertility?
Male infertility happens due to either abnormal production of sperm or abnormal sperm motility. Below are a few reasons that may cause infertility in men.
Infection of the testes or the epididymis (the tube at the end of the testes that transports and stores sperm) may damage sperm production and maturation.
A varicocele is enlargement of the veins in the testes. It may impact semen and sperm production and lead to infertility.
People with Klinefelter's syndrome have two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome, rather than the typical one X and one Y. In this situation, the male reproductive system may not fully mature. Many people with Klinefelter’s syndrome have problems with fertility.
Being overweight may lead to decreased sperm count, semen volume, and sperm motility.
Exercising in moderation can improve these parameters. In addition, exercise increases testosterone, enhances blood flow and, oxygenates your body, and cuts down your sitting time.
These positive influences can support healthy sperm production and lessen DNA damage, which improves overall semen quality.
Smoking tobacco produces harmful free radicals which can damage or kill sperm. As a result, cigarette smokers may have a lower sperm count and reduced fertility.
It takes about three months, after quitting, for sperm to regain their strength and health.