Do you really need both a gynecologist and a family doctor?

I generally recommend having both, but it comes down to personal preference and your own needs. If you have no serious medical problems, you should a visit to your ob-gyn as your regular doctor. A good gynecologist will be happy to talk to you about the overall health. Although ob-gyns lead in the first place on the health of women and problems related to the reproductive organs, many services outside the field of view (cholesterol screening, say).

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Even so, an annual physical examination by a health care provider (PCP) will probably cover a lot more ground, including metabolic, the respiratory system and the digestive system, for starters. Also, some gynos may feel more comfortable referring you to a specialist for conditions that a PCP would handle themselves. For example, if you have a rash, your ob-gyn may encourage you to get a dermatologist’s opinion, while a PCP may treat it in a stop.

Ultimately, it all depends on the doctor. If you have a good relationship with your gynecologist and feel they give you the 360 medical help you need, fine. Just warn her that she is the only doctor who you visit regularly. In this way, they know that they will give you a comprehensive check-ups or sending you to another MD when needed.

Health‘s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

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