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Women’s health 101: OB-GYN, MFM, REI are acronyms you need to know

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As a woman, you may experience many unique health related issues and/or miracles throughout your life. And as you research various topics, you may see that women’s health has a jargon specific to the field. The following guide outlines three common terms linked to women’s health.

What is OB-GYN?

OB-GYN refers to the two fields of obstetrics and gynecology, so most people use the abbreviation OB-GYN to refer to their obstetrician and gynecologist. Gynecologists specialize in women’s reproductive health, or anything to do with your female parts. Obstetricians care for you during pre-conception, pregnancy, childbirth and immediately after delivery. An OB-GYN does all these things. This doctor prescribes birth control and sees you through childbirth and menopause. This person also screens for cancer, treats infections and does some surgeries.

What is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist?

MFM is an acronym for maternal-fetal medicine. This sub-specialty of an OB-GYN is focused on managing health concerns of a high-risk mom and her unborn baby before, during and immediately after pregnancy. A doctor specializing in maternal-fetal medicine helps take care of women with high-risk or complex pregnancies. You might be high-risk if you have one or more of the following issues before you conceived:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • A blood clotting disorder
  • An infection such as HIV

If you are pregnant with multiples or have had pregnancy problems in the past, you may also be high-risk. While pregnant, your OB-GYN may refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist if you:

  • Need special tests
  • An ultrasound reveals your baby has a birth defect or some other issue
  • You or your unborn child develops problems 

Working with an maternal-fetal medicine doctor while pregnant can ease worries. It can also help you feel confident that you and your baby are getting the best care you can.

On the other end of the spectrum, an option for women with low-risk pregnancies is to see a midwife, which is a person trained to assist women in childbirth. Their goal is to coach and educate you through a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

What is REI?

REI stands for reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Doctors who work in REI train in the medical and surgical treatment of issues dealing with a woman’s reproductive tract and delivering babies. While maternal-fetal medicine doctors work with women with high-risk pregnancies, REI specialists are skilled in helping women who are struggling to get pregnant on their own. REI specialists work with genetic counselors and dietitians to help couples achieve their dream of having a child.

REI doctors work with those coping with things such as:

  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Male factor infertility
  • Tubal factor infertility

Your OB-GYN might send you to an REI specialist if you’ve been trying to conceive for 6 to 12 months without success or if you have a history of miscarriages.

Some women are treated by all three types of physicians: OB-GYN, maternal-fetal medicine specialist, and an REI doctor. Having all of your doctors under one roof has benefits. Recently, SIU Medicine along with HSHS St. John’s Hospital, and HSHS Medical Group unveiled a new women and children’s clinic, which also connects to the NICU at St. John’s Children’s Hospital. At the new large outpatient center, you can see highly trained doctors and get diagnostic and follow-up services with quick access to St. John’s Hospital and St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

The new clinic boasts a lab. It also has a pharmacy. While at the outpatient center, you’ll have access to mammography and other imaging tests. You can also see your OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine in that building. Regardless of whether you are having a first child or enjoying your golden years, the new clinic will provide you with specialized care based on the latest medical research.

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