Scientists are anticipating an alarming shortage of Ob-Gyns in the next few years, which means that finding an obstetrician or a gynecologist that you trust may become ever more challenging.
Ob-Gyns are medical doctors who specialize "in the management of pregnancy, labor and birth," but who also "receive specialized education in the area of the female reproductive system and surgical care. Much of their education focuses on the detection and management of obstetrical and gynecological problems," according to the American Pregnancy Association, a national organization that promotes pregnancy wellness.
You may see your Ob-gyn for routine gynecological care such as annual pelvic exams and Pap smears, everyday concerns, contraceptives, pregnancy, infertility, abnormalities, cancer, endometriosis and many other women's sexual and reproductive health concerns — many of which can be scary or uncomfortable to talk about. In fact, women between 18 and 24 years old are reluctant to seek medical attention for gynecological issues because they don’t want to be deemed “abnormal,” and are too embarrassed to discuss sexual health according to a 2016 study from Ovarian Cancer Action.
Ovarian Cancer Action found that just 17 percent of young women would seek medical help if they’d exhibited symptoms of any gynecological issues, compared to 68 percent of older women. Out of 1,000 women surveyed, women in the 18-to-24 age group were four times less likely to go to a doctor about a sexual health issue than women aged between 55 and 64 — 57 percent of them were actually turning to Google instead.
Likewise, two-thirds of young women said they are too embarrassed to say the word “vagina” or “orgasm” to their doctors. More than half were self-conscious about using the word “discharge” and 60 percent didn’t want to say “labia.” A quarter of young women avoided their doctors because they didn’t even know what words to use, and another 44 percent did so because they were simply reluctant to discuss sexual health issues. Almost half didn’t want to be intimately examined.
Finding a doctor you trust is, therefore, critical to your health.
But the new research by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Doximity — a social media network for U.S. healhcare professionals — says that there will be a shortage of 8,800 Ob-Gyns by 2020, and that number could climb to 22,000 by 2050. The research suggests that Ob-Gyns are getting older and closer to retirement, which is cause for concern since only 16 percent of all Ob-Gyns in the country are 40 years of age or younger. In fact, on a national scale, 36 percent of the Ob-Gyn population is over 55, and most retire at 59 (an earlier age than most largely due to burnout).
These are the top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest likelihood of an Ob-Gyn shortage, according to the study.
1. Las Vegas
2. Los Angeles
4. Orlando, FL
5. Riverside, CA
7. St. Louis
8. Salt Lake City
9. Sacramento, CA
10. Tampa, FL
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.