The field of medicine dealing with the health of the female reproductive system (Uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries) is called gynecology. It is closely associated with obstetrics. A physician who specializes in the field of gynecology is called a gynecologist.
- The oldest gynecological medical text ever known is the Kahan gynaecological Papyrus. It includes non surgical treatment to many problems that were experienced by women.
- The Hippocratic Corpus belonging to the 5th/4th centuries BC consists of several gynecological treatises.
- J. Marion Sims is regarded as the father of modern gynecology. He experimented surgical procedures on slave women and developed them.
Diseases which are treated
Gynecologists treat conditions like Amenorrhea (Absence of menstrual periods), Dysmenrrhea (Painful menstrual periods), Menorrhea (Heavy menstrual periods), Female incontinence, Infertility, Cancers and pre-cancers of the female reproductive tract, Infections of the female reproductive tract. (Infections in the uterus, vagina, cervix) and Prolapse of pelvic organs.
Nowadays gynecologists follow a medical and surgical approach to treat gynecological diseases. Treatment varies according to the problem concerned. (For some disorders surgical intervention is not needed.) Drugs such as antibiotics, diuretics, antihypertensives, antiemetics, and hormone modulating therapies like Clomifene citrate, hormonal contraception are used for treatment. Surgical procedures such as
- Dilation and curettage
- Diagnostic laparoscopy
- Exploratory laparotomy
- Cystoscopy and sub urethral slings for urinary incontinence
And cervical excision procedures are used for treatment of various disorders.
The gynecological exam
In the past, physicians considered performing this procedure ungentlemanly and didn’t want to take part in doing this. Nowadays this is a normal procedure. The gynecological exam consists of reviewing the medical history/family history of the patient and of a physical exam.
The gynecologist checks for any abnormalities in the external and internal genetilia of the woman. A speculum is used to retract the tissues of the vagina and examine the cervix. A Pap smear test may be performed to check for cancerous cells or abnormalities. A biannual examination is done to palpate the cervix, uterus, ovaries and the bony pelvis. Sometimes a rectovaginal exam may be done to get a full evaluation of the pelvis. If any abnormalities are noticed while performing the biannual exam, abdominal or vaginal ultrasounds may be done to confirm or investigate issues further.