What’s the Difference Between a Gynaecologist and an Obstetrician?

difference between a Gynaecologist and an Obstetrician

What’s the Difference Between a Gynaecologist and an Obstetrician?

Many women think of OB/GYN as a single specialist they can visit for their health and pregnancy needs. While they are both highly specialised doctors treating women’s reproductive health needs, obstetricians and gynaecologists are separate practitioners and have different roles in the medical field.

Obstetrics is the branch of medicine concerned with childbirth and midwifery, while gynaecology relates to conditions exclusive to women, particularly related to the reproductive system.

Below, we outline the differences between each, explaining why you would need to visit an OB or a GYN for specialised medical care.

difference between a Gynaecologist and an Obstetrician

Obstetricians provide specialised care from conception to delivery.

What is an obstetrician?

An obstetrician is involved in the care of an expecting mother and her unborn baby. They are highly trained specialists that complete approximately 12 years of study to earn their qualification. OB’s can assist in all stages of pregnancy, from pre-conception to the birthing process and post-pregnancy.

Pregnant women are often guided by their chosen obstetrician through their entire experience. From conception to delivery, your obstetrician will ensure your pregnancy is safe and healthy, and provide specialised medical treatment if complications arise.

What are the most common complications treated by an obstetrician?

Most pregnant women regularly visit their obstetrician to monitor their health and the health of their baby. While it is hoped that no problems arise, there are complications affecting pregnant women that must be observed and suitably treated. These include:

  • High blood pressure. Often called hypertension, high blood pressure during pregnancy can increase the risk of pre-eclampsia and preterm labour.
  • Fetal distress. When a baby is unwell before or during childbirth, there are signs of fetal distress.
  • Problems with the placenta.
  • Caesarean section and emergency birth complications.

Gynaecologists are experts in women’s reproductive health.

What is a gynaecologist?

Gynaecologists are trained to diagnose, treat, and manage women’s reproductive health conditions. Similar to obstetricians, they must complete extensive training that includes first becoming a medical doctor, then specialising in their field.

Gynaecologists assist women of all ages from the onset of puberty to menopause and beyond. They play a vital role in monitoring women’s health, including the early detection of serious diseases.

What women’s health conditions can a gynaecologist treat?

Gynaecology is an important branch of medicine that detects and treats women’s health conditions related to the reproductive system. This includes:

  • Complications with menstruation.
  • Endometriosis. A chronic, painful condition when uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus.
  • Fibroids. Tumours in the uterus.
  • Ovarian cysts.
  • Menopause related conditions.
  • Prolapse. Occurs when the pelvic organs slip forward or downward in the body.
  • Cancer. Cancers of the reproductive system including the ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes or uterus.


Gynaecologists and obstetricians: Your reproductive health specialists.

In Australia, all OB/GYN specialists are trained and accredited through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. They completed training in both specialties before working in either obstetrics, gynaecology or both, depending on their interest and expertise. Gynaecologists and obstetricians are highly specialised medical practitioners that require a referral letter to visit. Pregnant women often visit an obstetrician from early in their pregnancy and can be referred by their GP. If you require medical care for another non-pregnancy aspect of reproductive health, you will be referred to a gynaecologist.

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