What is the difference between obstetrics and gynecology?

Gynecology is the medical specialty focusing on women's issues, especially reproductive and urological organs. Obstetrics, however, focuses specifically on prenatal care, pregnancy and child delivery. Because of their similarities, the two fields are often studied together; and while almost all gynecologists can qualify as a licensed obstetrician, the reverse is not always true.

What can I expect during my first visit?

Your first gynecological visit could include a consultation as well as some simple screening tests. First obstetric visits typically include thorough data-gathering such as medical histories as well as a series of blood tests and a consultation.

What is a mammogram, and when should I get one?

A mammogram is a routine screening procedure for breast cancer. Typically, women begin getting annual mammograms at the age of 40, but if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, or you suspect you may have breast cancer, you should undergo a mammogram sooner. Mammograms are important because they can detect the presence of cancerous cells or tumors up to two years before they can be felt by a self-examination.

What are the risks of getting my tubes tied? Are there alternatives?

Tubal ligation - the process of tying or severing fallopian tubes - is a generally very safe surgical procedure typically performed via laparoscopy. If there is a risk involved, it is only that it is a permanent and usually irreversible procedure, and that a significant percentage of women regret undergoing the procedure. In fact, it is estimated that up to 65% of women under 25 who undergo tubal ligation later regret their decision. Possible alternatives include the male vasectomy and an IUD (intrauterine device), which can be implanted and later removed surgically.

Should I get a pap smear even though my family has no history of cancer?

Yes. Cervical cancer is not a hereditary condition, but rather a result, in most cases, from Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Your family's medical history plays a negligible role in your risk for cervical cancer.

My partner and I have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for several months. What should we do?

Infertility is a treatable condition, but it is important not to self-diagnose it too quickly. Medically, a couple is considered infertile only when failing to conceive after having unprotected sex for a year. If you have been trying for a year or more, then seeing a fertility specialist will often prove useful. A specialist can recommend advanced treatments for many causes of infertility.

How much weight will I gain during pregnancy?

There is no "normal" range of weight gain during pregnancy, as each woman will experience it differently. You can, however, usually expect to gain roughly 9 or 10 pounds during your first trimester and on average between 24 and 30 pounds during the entire pregnancy.

What kinds of food should I avoid during pregnancy?

Avoid eating raw foods, fish with mercury (even trace amounts), and soft cheeses. Eat foods rich in iron, calcium and protein. Prenatal supplements are also a good decision, but you should consult an obstetrician before taking any supplement. Eating foods high in fiber and drinking plenty of water will help curb constipation.

How can I treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy?

There are many ways you can help prevent nausea during pregnancy. Try eating dry toast or crackers before getting up in the morning. Avoid eating greasy or spicy foods. Also, take any iron during or directly after meals instead of on an empty stomach. Try to eat several small meals instead of only a few larger meals. And stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Most importantly, get plenty of rest and remind yourself that you will feel better soon!