During their childbearing years, many women view their obstetrician-gynecologists as primary care physicians, seeing them for preventive health care as well as for reproductive-related issues. Several studies, including one published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), indicate that women may be shortchanging themselves by consulting only an OB-GYN for preventive health care visits. The national study of 63 million preventive health visits by non-pregnant women found that those “of reproductive age who see OB-GYNs only for preventive care may not be receiving the full spectrum of recommended screening and counseling.”
A number of Connecticut OB-GYNs and other women’s health care specialists said, however, that they are aware of the unique role they play, and that they make a point of addressing patients’ broader needs, especially when meeting a new patient. These needs vary, of course, depending on a woman’s lifestyle, risk factors and age. “If you’re young, in your 20s, don’t smoke and are healthy, you’re very low risk,” said Dr. Susan Richman, a Branford OB-GYN. “What [those patients may] have is very treatable, and I’m comfortable treating them.”
The JAMA study of “well-woman” visits from 2007 to 2010 showed that while OB-GYNs generally screened for cervical and breast cancers, chlamydia and osteoporosis, general practitioners more often screened for colorectal cancer, cholesterol counts and diabetes.