Why an OB-GYN Shouldn’t Be Your Only Primary Care Provider

May 25, 2022 6:35 am Published by

woman talking to doctor.

Your primary care provider (PCP) retired recently, and now you need to find a new one. Would it be OK to simply have your OB-GYN be your primary care physician?

That’s really a bit of a tricky question. While an OB-GYN, also called an obstetrician/gynecologist, is technically defined as a type of primary care provider, it’s best to have both an OB-GYN and a PCP on your healthcare team.

Why Is Having a Primary Care Provider Important?

You may wonder why you even need a PCP in the first place. A primary care physician is a medical provider who is trained in providing whole-body care.

This type of provider is called a “primary care” provider for a reason. They should be your long-term go-to resource when you’re facing a basic health issue or when you’re in need of preventive care, including regular checkups.

If you need specialized care for a certain health condition or symptom, such as diabetes, your PCP can provide you with a referral or connection to a specialist. Consider the primary care provider the quarterback of your healthcare team, connecting all the other parts of the team.

Consistently seeing the same primary care provider over the years is important, because it allows your doctor to gain a deep understanding of your specific health risks, your lifestyle and your needs.

Understanding the OB-GYN’s Role

In addition to a primary care provider, most women should also see an OB-GYN. This type of physician provides women’s health services, including both obstetrics (care specifically related to pregnancy) and gynecology (care related to general reproductive health).

Depending on your specific needs and the services your provider offers, you may have one OB-GYN for many years, or you may see different gynecologists and obstetricians at various points in life.

OB-GYNs can provide specialized care related to family planning, the menstrual cycle, breast health, pregnancy, menopause and women’s health conditions such as endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases or urinary tract infections.

If you already see an OB-GYN for an annual well-woman checkup, why do you also need a primary care provider? It’s pretty simple—while your OB-GYN may be able to provide care for specific aspects of your health, a PCP covers all the bases.

Your OB-GYN may not be able to offer care for a problem with your thyroid, for example, while a primary care provider can help diagnose, treat and manage thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism.

There’s also a more practical side to why having a primary care doctor is important. It’s often difficult to make an immediate appointment with an OB-GYN, making it challenging to be seen for an urgent health need. Primary care doctors, on the other hand, are more readily available for “sick” visits to diagnose and treat acute illnesses and injuries.

A PCP can also help you stay on top of your ongoing health needs, providing guidance about age- and sex-appropriate screenings that you need. This includes yearly screenings, as well as cancer screenings such as a colonoscopy and routine immunizations such as the shingles vaccine.


A primary care provider plays an important role in helping you maintain optimal health. Need a PCP? Find one here.


Visit mrhc.org/clinics to find the locations of our primary care clinics.

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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center