Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN)

OB/GYNs in Sugar Land at HMC

What are Obstetrics & Gynecology?

Merriam-Webster defines obstetrics as “a branch of medical science that deals with birth and with its antecedents and sequelae,” and gynecology as “a branch of medicine that deals with the diseases and routine physical care of the reproductive system of women.”  In layman’s terms, obstetrics is the medical science of pre- and post-natal care and childbirth.  Because the two fields are so closely related, many obstetricians are also gynecologists and vice versa.  Doctors who specialize in both fields are typically called OB/GYNs.

obstetrician giving an ultrasoundWhat OB/GYNs Do

Both obstetrics and gynecology are specialties of medicine focused on the reproductive organs of women.  Obstetrics is focused on the care of women during and after pregnancy. Gynecology is focused on the care of women who are not pregnant and on diseases of the female reproductive organs.


Obstetricians provide routine examinations, including imaging, and lab tests during all stages of pregnancy to ensure the health of both mother and the fetus, and ensure the fetus grows properly.  The obstetrician is also usually who will deliver the baby when it is ready, and can induce labor if necessary.  They are trained to handle emergency situations regarding childbirth and pregnancy, and are able to perform surgeries such as Caesarean section to correct complications.  Postnatal care is given by the obstetrician during the mother and infant’s stay in the clinic after birth.


Gynecologists provide the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the female reproductive organs of women who are not pregnant.  The main ailments dealt with by a gynecologists include cancer and pre-cancerous diseases of the reproductive organs, urine incontinence, menstrual abnormalities, infertility, prolapse of pelvic organs, infections of the vagina, and sexually transmitted diseases.  The gynecologists provides treatment for these problems and more either by therapy or medication.  While not specialists in surgery, gynecologists can perform simply surgeries such as female sterilization and the removal of polyps.

Education Requirements for OB/GYN’s

As with all fields of medicine, OB/GYNs must first receive an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree from a medical school.  A four-year residency specializing in the chosen field is required for both obstetrics and gynecology.  Physicians desiring to specialize in both must complete both residency programs.  During these residencies, students learn the basics of obstetrics or gynecology under the direction of experienced physicians.  Once the residency is complete, students must pass written and oral certification exams given by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  This certification must be renewed every 6 years.