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How to Choose an OB/GYN

Three Parts:Finding OptionsNarrowing Down OptionsChoosing a DoctorCommunity Q&A

Every woman should see a gynecologist regularly once she is between the ages of 13 and 15 or when she becomes sexually active (whichever is earlier).[1] You may want to see an OB/GYN to get a pap smear, a screening for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, or check-ups for you and your unborn child. You should get regular check-ups with an OB/GYN, even if you do not have any apparent problems. If you don’t have an OB/GYN, though, finding one can be a challenging task. However, with just a few steps you can find an OB/GYN whom you like and who suits your needs as a patient.

Part 1
Finding Options

  1. 1
    Visit your primary care physician. Make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss getting a referral for an obstetrician and/or gynecologist. Talk about why you want to see an OB/GYN. Explain to your doctor which services you think you need. Your doctor may be able to provide some of those services, or your doctor may give you a referral.[2] Your doctor may give you a specific OB/GYN that they recommend or let you choose yourself, based on your insurance options.
  2. 2
    Review your insurance policy to find a list of OB/GYNs. Go on your insurance company's website and find a list of OB/GYN providers covered by your insurance in your area. Write down their names, locations, and phone numbers. This will be your working list of potential OB/GYNs that you can visit.
    • Many insurance providers have a list of “in-network” and “out-of-network” physician options. Unless you have a compelling reason for selecting an out-of-network OB/GYN, many insurance companies will cover little or none of the cost of out-of-network visits and care.
  3. 3
    Find a low-cost health care provider near you if you do not have health insurance. Search for free clinics or women’s health clinics. Many of these clinics can provide low-cost options, with a sliding scale based on income.[3] They can provide a huge range of reproductive services, from pap smears to STD/STI screenings to pregnancy tests.
    • Select the service you need. If you’ve never been to see an OB/GYN before or haven’t been in a year or more, choose a “well-woman” exam, or a general check-up for reproductive health. You can also seek treatment for STD/STIs, pregnancy, and other general issues. If you’re not sure what kind of service you want or need, call the office or clinic to talk with a professional.
    • Schedule an appointment. Even if you are uninsured, some health care providers, like Planned Parenthood, cannot turn you away from their services because of inability to pay.[4] Keep in mind that clinics are typically open during normal business hours, so you may need to make arrangements for work or child care.

Part 2
Narrowing Down Options

  1. 1
    Look at the locations of your options. See how long it would take you to drive to various doctors from your home and your work. Cross off any options that are inconveniently located or too far away. Keep in mind that you will most likely be driving to your OB/GYN during business hours.
  2. 2
    Choose if you would like a male or female OB/GYN. This depends purely on your preferences. If you have a preference for a female doctor, do not see a male doctor. You are entitled to be comfortable. Remember that you will have to be completely undressed during your visits to your OB/GYN.[5] Also remember that sometimes a doctor’s name is not necessarily indicative of their gender; for example, the first name Dylan can be used for all genders.
  3. 3
    Look at the services each option provides. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you will need an OB/GYN that can provide both obstetrical and gynecological services. If you are planning to have a baby, make sure that the hospital that your OB/GYN delivers at is also covered by your insurance. If you’re only looking for an annual checkup, however, you may only need a gynecologist, rather than an obstetrician and gynecologist. Figure out what you need from your OB/GYN and call the offices on your list to ask them if they provide all the services you need. If they do not, cross those options off of your list.
    • An obstetrician, or an OB/GYN, is a medical doctor trained in women’s reproductive health, pregnancy, and birth.[6]
    • A gynecologist is a medical doctor who primarily focuses on health care and diseases related to breasts and women’s reproductive health.[7]
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    Ask if each office is accepting new patients. Contact your potential offices and ask them if they are accepting new patients. If they are not, cross those off of your list of potential doctors. Being able to make an appointment quickly and easily is important for choosing an OB/GYN, especially if you are planning to have a baby.

Part 3
Choosing a Doctor

  1. 1
    Ask for recommendations from your primary care physician, family, and friends. You may have a lot of options from your insurance company. Ask your general practitioner, family, and friends who their OB/GYNs are. Ask them what they like and dislike about their experiences there.[8] Many people love their doctors and will be able to make recommendations. Others may dislike their doctors and give you important information about what you could expect at the office they visit, such as long lines, insurance hassles, or rude providers. Here are some potential things to ask about:
    • How easy it is to make an appointment
    • Wait times in the office
    • Kindness and professionalism of the people at the office
    • Professionalism and personality of OB/GYN
    • Birth control services
    • Pregnancy services
    • Overall experience
  2. 2
    Do more in-depth online research about potential doctors. Use these sources to narrow down your list from many providers to only a few. Search a variety of sources and take all online reviews with a grain of salt. Not every doctor is perfect for every patient.
    • Many medical boards provide information on every registered OB/GYN, listing any documented complaints or reprimands currently in effect against the physician. If a physician has a complaint filed by a patient, check to see if it is for inadequate or negligent care, and if so, continue down your list in search of a new provider. If the complaint instead deals with insurance reimbursement or other non-care based issues, you should keep it in mind should you decide to engage his or her services.
    • Look on doctor review websites such as Vitals and Healthgrades.[9] Take online reviews with a grain of salt, as always, but cross any doctors on your list who have overwhelmingly negative reviews. Pay attention to what you’re looking for in a doctor and cross off any doctors with poor grades in those categories. For example, if you care a lot about bedside manner, you may cross off doctors with negative reviews regarding bedside manner but keep doctors with negative reviews regarding office wait times.
  3. 3
    Schedule meetings with a few different doctors. Call in advance and ask to meet with an OB/GYN before you schedule an official appointment. At these meetings, look at the cleanliness of the office and the friendliness of the staff. Ask the doctors about their credentials, their certifications, their education, and their views on certain issues (such as birth control).[10]
    • Ask how long the physician has been practicing. Even new OB/GYN has received extensive training, but if you have considerable health problems or if you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, you may wish to opt for a more experienced provider.
    • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, find out if the physician or nurse is available after hours for urgent questions and whether the OB/GYN will be available or on-call for your delivery.
    • If you have special needs or considerations, such as a recent hysterectomy or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, ask whether the physician has experience handling cases such as yours.
  4. 4
    Schedule an appointment with your new OB/GYN. Make sure that you can make this appointment time and will not have to cancel. Ensure that you are getting a comprehensive check-up the first time you go. If you have any medical records from past doctors, bring those to your appointment.
    • Remember, you are not required to return to an office simply because you have begun seeing them as a patient. In most cases, your new provider can call or fax a form to the old OB/GYN office to get a copy of your medical records.

Community Q&A

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  • Get to know your OB/GYN a little bit, and make sure that he or she knows a little bit about your life.
  • Feel free to ask your OB/GYN any question whatsoever that you have about your health. It is always better to ask.
  • Non-physician providers such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants can offer highly skilled care at a fraction of the price charged by physicians. In addition, they may have shorter waiting lists and can often spend more time with you at each visit than their physician counterparts.
  • If you are comfortable seeing a non-physician provider, make sure your insurance company will cover their visits and ask if the offices on your in-network list offer care by non-physicians.


  • If the staff or physician makes inappropriate remarks, if the provider acts offensively, or if the office cleanliness and equipment is substandard, submit a complaint to their office and – if you desire – to the local medical board. Do not return to an office that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Article Info

Categories: Women’s Health

In other languages:

Español: escoger a un gineco obstetra, Русский: выбрать акушера–гинеколога, Italiano: Scegliere un Ostetrico Ginecologo, Português: Escolher um Ginecologista Obstetra

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