Uterine Fibroids: Why See a Specialist?
Uterine fibroids, often referred to simply as fibroids, are noncancerous growths that develop in and around the uterus. Fibroids don’t always cause symptoms, but when they do, they can greatly affect a woman’s health and quality of life. The most common symptom of fibroids is heavy menstrual bleeding, which can sometimes be so severe that it causes anemia. Many women also experience pelvic, leg, or back pain, as well as constipation and frequent urination. Fibroids affect everyone differently, and your primary care doctor may not have all the information you require to manage your condition successfully. That’s where specialists come in: a uterine fibroids specialist, called an obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn), has the right skills and insight to help you manage your fibroids. Here’s why:
1. An ob/gyn completes extensive training in treating uterine fibroids.
An obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) is a physician who specializes in the health of a woman’s reproductive system, from her first menstrual period to pregnancy to post-menopause. Gynecology is a medical field that focuses on women’s health in general, particularly reproductive health. Obstetrics is a related field that focuses specifically on pregnancy and childbirth. Most gynecologists today are also obstetricians, hence the term ob/gyn. These doctors must train extensively to master this area of study.
All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. In their residencies, ob/gyns will train under experienced ob/gyns and focus on patients with uterine fibroids and issues affecting the female reproductive system. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become a board-certified ob/gyn. They may also choose to complete a fellowship so they can subspecialize. Look for a doctor who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.
2. An ob/gyn never stops learning about uterine fibroids.
To maintain their board certifications, ob/gyns must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified ob/gyns stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in uterine fibroids, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.
3. An ob/gyn has extensive experience in treating uterine fibroids.
Ob/gyns see a higher volume and concentration of patients with uterine fibroids, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with uterine fibroids, they can add real-world knowledge to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding uterine fibroids complications, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.
4. An ob/gyn is a team player.
Ob/gyns work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with uterine fibroids and can connect patients with surgeons, radiologists, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and other experts in uterine fibroids management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the condition and ensure success.
5. It’s easy to find the right ob/gyn for you.
There are thousands of ob/gyns in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best ob/gyn to help you manage your uterine fibroids successfully.