Each March we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day to recognize the past and present contributions of women. In the medical community, we honor women through continued advancements in the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN).
“It is the only field of medicine that solely provides services to women,” said Jeffrey Bell, MD, an OB/GYN physician at Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center and Prince William Medical Center, as he explained the importance of women’s healthcare and how he’s seen the field improve in the nearly 30 years he’s been a provider in the area.
Advancements in Medicine
As in most specialties of medicine, standard practices have changed over the last several decades in OB/GYN care. Advanced technology and new techniques have altered the way providers look at and address problems.
“A few decades ago, a hysterectomy, for example, could have had a woman out of commission for a couple of months because the surgery was so involved and relatively complex,” said Dr. Bell. “Today, thanks to minimally invasive surgery practices and equipment that allows us to safely do procedures with smaller incisions, that recovery period is much shorter, and chances of complications are significantly lower.”
Dr. Bell noted that these improved practices aren’t only applicable to major surgeries, like hysterectomies, but also to more common procedures like biopsies and even nonsurgical services, like cervical cancer screenings.
- Many of today’s OB/GYN practitioners, including Dr. Bell and the team at Novant Health UVA Health System, perform a wide range of services, including:
- Annual visits and screenings including pap smears and mammograms
- Obstetrics and prenatal care
- Colposcopies — evaluating abnormal pap smears and biopsies by examining the cervix and vagina for signs of disease
- Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedures (LEEP) — removing abnormal cells from the walls of the cervix
- Biopsies — evaluating abnormal cells for signs of cancer or other disease
- Evaluation and treatment of menopause, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, abnormal bleeding, pelvic support problems and other gynecological conditions
- Infertility evaluations and counseling
“I pursued OB/GYN because I was drawn to how diverse the scope of the work is,” said Dr. Bell. “We do everything from performing minor and major operative procedures to determining and advising on birth control options for a woman’s unique needs to helping women through high-risk pregnancies. It’s very rewarding.”
Commitment to Women’s Overall Health
Dr. Bell noted that OB/GYN providers get to treat women throughout all stages of their lives, from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.
“That’s led to prolonged, lasting relationships that providers in other specialties don’t often get to have with their patients,” he added.
By forming these patient relationships, OB/GYN providers are often able to offer a trusted voice in more areas than just reproductive health that encourage and support women’s overall health.
“Although it is still important that women have a primary care provider for acute injuries, conditions and broader health concerns, many women think of their OB/GYN doctor as someone they can turn to for advice and expertise on how conditions and habits can affect feminine health and overall health,” said Dr. Bell.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):
- Engaging in low-impact exercise while pregnant helps maintain physical fitness and enhance psychological well-being
- Maintaining a balanced diet plays a role in feminine health, including menstruation and pregnancy
- Eating or avoiding certain foods can impact fertility; ingesting proper nutrients is vital for nurturing children in the womb, and the overall health of the mother.
“Diets, nutrition and exercise might not seem to be related to your reproductive health, but the human body is complex and its systems can affect each other,” said Dr. Bell. “We can expect to see even more enhanced knowledge and greater advancements in the OB/GYN field as modern medicine continues to improve.”
The Expert: Jeffrey Bell, MD
His Expertise: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Jeffrey Bell, MD, is an OB/GYN physician at Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center and Prince William Medical Center. For more information about the doctors and services offered at Novant Health UVA Health System, visit novanthealthuva.org