Women visit an OBGYN to get regular checkups and to fix problems with their sexual or reproductive health. Is there one for men?
The percentage of women in the U.S. who see an OBGYN is only 38.4%. This is extremely low considering the importance seeing an OBGYN has on female fertility and female reproductive health.
It is recommended that a woman sees a gynecologist at least once every 12 months to ensure everything is healthy with their reproductive organs.
However, how often should men be getting checked? Do men have 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 considered an expert in female reproductive health, pregnancy, and birth. An OBGYN can offer health services similar to your primary care physician and care for the female reproductive system. There are approximately 18,900 OBGYNs in the US as of 2020.
These services include routine medical services, medical screenings, and surgical procedures.
The term OBGYN can also refer to the sciences that the doctor specializes in: obstetrics and gynecology.
What Is Obstetrics?
Obstetrics is a branch of female reproductive 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 maternity.
Care can include:
- The postpartum period
What Is Gynecology?
Gynecology is the branch of female reproductive medicine that relates to women's bodies and their reproductive health. It focuses mainly on the diagnosis, treatment, and care of a woman's reproductive system.
This branch treats areas including the:
- Fallopian tubs
Along with these, gynecologists also screen and treat issues associated with women's breasts.
This is the field of women's health that starts at puberty and extends through adulthood. It is the reproductive care you will receive for most of your life. When pregnant, you should see an obstetrician.
What Are the Specialty Fields of OBGYN?
It is approximated that 90% of the OBGYN field is generalists, meaning they choose to work a wide range of services. The other 10% have chosen to specialize in one or more subspecialties.
Those studying maternal-fetal medicine have chosen to care for patients with high-risk pregnancies and related medical conditions. Therefore, it is recommended you see a maternal-fetal specialist if you have:
- Chronic or gestational high blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- A blood-clotting disorder
- Premature labor
Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Endocrinologists focus on hormones and how, why, and when your body produces them. Reproductive endocrinologists concentrate on the specific hormones needed for reproduction. For example, you would see a reproductive endocrinologist if you are having trouble conceiving.
Reproductive endocrinologists perform procedures such as:
- In vitro fertilization
- Gamete intrafallopian transfer
- Zygote intrafallopian transfer
- Embryo transfer
Oncologists focus on the specifics of diagnosing and treating cancer. For example, a gynecologic oncologist concentrates explicitly on the cancers of the female reproductive system.
The cancers treated include:
Female Pelvic Medicine and Reproductive Surgery
These specialists focus on the treatment of women with urinary tract disorders. They can also focus on the diseases of the muscle and tissue located just beneath a woman's pelvis, known as 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 doctor may be trained to do major or minor surgeries for both inpatient and outpatient procedures.
Some of these procedures include:
- Dilation and curettage
- Female sterilization
- Laser surgery
- Removal of the uterus
- Removal of fibroids
Along with these procedures, an OBGYN is also trained to maintain your health before, during, and after pregnancy.
These procedures may include:
- Vaginal delivery
- C-section delivery
- Testing to determine sex and detect abnormalities
- Forceps and vacuum deliveries
In addition to this, OBGYNs also do regular preventative testing and screening.
Some of these include:
- 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 always with preventative care. Therefore, even if you are not experiencing any reproductive health issues, you still recommend a preventative checkup once per year.
During your time in the office, your doctor may evaluate, immunize, or test for certain diseases. In addition, depending on your age, your doctor will perform a pelvic exam.
Additionally, you should also visit your OBGYN when your reproductive cycle starts to change. Whether it is routine, planned, or expected, you should still see your doctor.
These changes may include:
- Your first menstrual cycle
- Changes in volume or frequency of menstrual bleeding
- Unusual cramping
- Pain during urination
- Pain during sex
You can visit your OBGYN for a wide variety of reasons. Depending on the reason for your visit, you can receive various information.
For visits when you are sexually active, you may receive care in the form of:
- Birth control or sterilization
- Safe sex tips
- Advice on how to prevent STDs
- Vaccination for HPV
- Treatment and prevention of painful sex
- Abnormal discharge
For visits when you are or wish to get pregnant, you may receive care in the form of:
- Pregnancy planning
- Prenatal care
- Infertility treatment
- Labor and birthing options
- Genetic testing and screenings
- Breastfeeding tips
- Advice on postpartum depression
For visits when you are experiencing pain or difficulty before, during, or after menstruation, you may ask questions about:
- Easing cramps
- Irregular or abnormal bleeding
- Mood swings
- Advice on premenstrual syndrome
- Cysts and fibroids
- Pelvic support issues
For visits when you are going through menopause, you may want to address the following:
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Bone density loss
- Hormone replacement therapy.
Some women choose to replace their primary care physician with only visits to the OBGYN. While this is an option, not all OBGYNs are comfortable providing this service. Please talk to your doctor about what services they feel comfortable providing.
Can OBGYNs Address Fertility Issues?
Usually, visiting an OBGYN is the first step in treating infertility. Next, your gynecologist can perform a fertility evaluation.
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?
Unfortunately, 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, 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?
This is likely because men's reproductive health is not discussed at the frequency of women's talk. The media and cultural dynamics are why men's reproductive health is not talked about in the same way.
Some believe that men do not need the same care because women's reproductive organs are more complex. This is simply not the case. Men can have just as many problems with their reproductive system as women.
While there should be a specialized 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. Although men's fertility is not looked upon the same way as women's fertility, it is still very important to get regular checkups and review your fertility with your doctor.
About 1 in 8 couples have infertility issues. Of those couples, a third of infertility issues come from men. Without testing, some men may never know that they are infertile or have fertility issues.
It is incredibly important to talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve or maintain your fertility if having a child is something that you see in your future.
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, which is the tube that connects the testes to the inner pelvis, is caused by bacterial attacks which damage sperm production and maturation. Other infections, like STDs or measles, can damage the testicular tubes and interfere with making sperm.
This is a medical condition in which the blood vessels of the testes do not function properly. If there is a blockage in the dishes, the blood and fluids accumulate in the tissue. This impacts semen production and their ability to move to the urethra.
Genes determine the development of the reproductive system in the male fetus. Males almost always possess the XY chromosomes, while females have the XX chromosomes. The Y chromosome defines the male sex.
In a condition known as Klinefelter's syndrome, humans have two X and one Y chromosome. If this occurs in a male, the female factor dominates, and the male reproductive system does not fully mature. This causes a faulty reproductive system and results in problems with fertility.
Being overweight significantly decreases sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility.
Exercising in moderation can improve these aspects of your fertility. In addition, exercise increases testosterone, enhances blood flow and, oxygenates your body, and it cuts down your sitting time.
When your body has adequate oxygen and blood supply, it is nourished well. These positive influences to your body speed up sperm production and lessen DNA damage, which improves sperm quality.
Smoking tobacco produces harmful ions which kill sperm in the reproductive system. As a result, the testing of cigarette smokers shows a lower sperm count and reduced fertility level than that of the average man.
It takes about three months, after quitting, for sperm to regain their strength and health.
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