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The surgical specialty that deals with the reproductive health of a woman is called Gynecology; it literally means “the science of women”. Gynecologists today also practice as Obstetricians.
Dated way back in 1800 BCE, the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus is the oldest medical text that has documented health illness cases in women such as fertility problems, methods and problems with contraception and the process of pregnancy. Each specific problem is articled in its thirty four divisions with each section tackling on the disease condition, diagnosis and treatment methods although the prognosis is not mentioned. The womb is the main site where the causes of the complaints arise. The treatments consisted mostly of non-surgical procedures such as the application of medicine into the affected body part or through oral intake.
An ancient Greek physician named Soranus of Ephesus as stated by the Suda, was able to practice medicine in Alexandria and later on in Rome. Soranus of Ephesus was a chief delegate of the school for physicians widely-known as the “Methodists”. His dissertation called Gynaikeia is well-documented and still exists collectively with Muscio’s Latin rewording, a fellow physician in the same school. In the United States on the other hand, a man by the name of J. Marion Sims is recognized as the founder and father of American Gynecology.
Gynecology is typically regarded as a consultant specialty. Women in some countries first seek the services of general practitioners prior to a referral to see a Gynecologist. Referrals happen when a woman’s condition is beyond the scope and practice of the general practitioner and involves training, adequate knowledge, surgical methods or paraphernalia that are not available to the general practitioners.
Gynecologists in the United States are required by law and several health insurance plans to supply primary care on top of the other features of their own practiced specialty. Because of this set up, women prefer going to a Gynecologist right away instead of waiting for a referral from other physicians who are not specialists.
It is generally practiced in the study of medicine to use the patient’s clinical history and physical examination as the chief tools for arriving at a successful diagnosis. Among all the physical examinations, the gynecological examination involves invading the personal boundaries of the woman because it requires the physician to examine the private parts (vagina and perinea area) with the use of an instrument called a vaginal speculum. It is used to retract the vagina of the woman for a better view and examination of the cervix, located on the upper portion of the vagina and the lower portion of the uterus. A bimanual examination done by a gynecologist requires one hand to rest on the abdominal area while one or two fingers to enter the vagina and do the palpation of the bony pelvis, cervix, uterus and ovaries. For a complete assessment and evaluation of the pelvis to rule out the presence of suspicious masses, it is very uncommon for a gynecologist to do a recto-vaginal examination.
Some of the main conditions that are dealt with in Gynecology are reproductive organs’ cancer and precancerous diseases that consists of the vulva, vagina, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus; urinary incontinence; absence of menstrual periods also known as Amenorrhea; intolerable pain during menstruation known as dysmenorrhea; infertility problems and heavy menstrual flow known as menorrhagia, making the patient a potential candidate for hysterectomy as well as the prolapsed of the organs of the pelvis.