A forensic gynecologist specializes in collecting and analyzing scientific crime evidence during a gynecology exam to evaluate the condition of the female reproductive system. Often, such evidence is useful in criminal cases involving sexual assault, but forensic gynecologists are also called upon to assist in investigations of possible newborn abandonment and to investigate abortion allegations in places where such procedures are restricted or illegal. These specialists are also relied upon to provide postmortem examinations on women, when necessary. In addition to gathering and analyzing physical evidence, a forensic gynecologist may be called upon to testify during a criminal trial as an expert witness.
A doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology and a forensic gynecologist undergo the same basic medical training to qualify each for a gynecological practice. In choosing a sub-specialty in forensics, however, the latter further participates in training to learn how to scrutinize physical evidence during and after a gynecological exam in order to assist law enforcement officers in the investigation of a crime. During the course of such work, a forensic gynecologist may be called upon to examine a female victim of rape or sexual assault, but may also be asked to examine a recently deceased victim to determine if that person engaged in consensual or forcible sex just prior to her death.
In addition to assisting in the investigation of sexual assault cases, a forensic gynecologist may also be asked to help determine whether or not a woman was recently pregnant, gave birth, miscarried or aborted a fetus. Such an examination is sometimes necessary in cases where a woman was believed to be pregnant, but is suspected of either aborting a fetus or of giving birth but abandoning a newborn infant. While an ob/gyn can likely determine these same events during an examination, a forensic gynecologist is often preferred when these events have occurred as part of a suspected crime.
It is not uncommon for a forensic gynecologist to be asked to participate in criminal cases as an expert witness during court proceedings. Doing so requires forensic gynecologists to understand and observe all courtroom rules and decorum, while delivering scientific testimony in such a way that non-medical jurors, defendants and courtroom officers can understand. In accommodating time for courtroom appearances, depositions and a highly specialized medical practice, a forensic gynecologist must be highly organized and able to calmly offer her or his services in a professional, thorough manner at all times.