Postponing Your Well-Woman Exam Due to COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our practices have instated specific protocols to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 transmission for our patients and our staff. For instance, annual exam office visits have been delayed until further notice. At Women’s Health Connecticut, we realize that you may be concerned about postponing well-woman exams and tests. To help calm any worries you may have, we spoke with our Chief Medical Officer Matthew Saidel, MD, about patients delaying their annual exams.
While we are asking patients to delay their annual exam, it is important to note, that we highly recommend women having a well-woman exam once every year. In addition to checking on your feminine health with a pelvic exam and Pap test, it gives your ObGyn the opportunity to look at medical history, lifestyle and healthy choices, reproductive plans, contraceptive issues and the need for various preventative measures like vaccinations, colonoscopies, smoking cessation, and more.
According to Dr. Saidel, with current Pap smear guidelines, the availability of HPV testing, and the fact that cervical cancer develops extremely slowly over many years in a place that your gynecologist can watch it, a delay of a pap smear for several months is not critical.
“Diagnosing uterine cancer always has the advantage that it nearly always sends us a message in the form of abnormal bleeding. Any abnormal bleeding is an urgent development and therefore is not part of a routine annual. It is appropriate to contact your gynecologist’s office for an essential visit,” said Dr. Saidel.
Likewise, mammography is designed to detect breast cancer before it can be felt on a physical exam and before it begins to expand rapidly. That is why regular mammograms are important – to see the change year over year, but a delay of a few months, while not ideal, will not be overly critical in this situation, according to Dr. Saidel.
To maintain your feminine health during the period, Dr. Saidel recommends monitoring your cycles to look for irregularities, and to remember that your providers are available through telehealth to answer your questions.
Women’s Health Connecticut has plans ready to get patients in to see their ObGyn before the end of the year. Although we cannot predict when the crisis will end, we will be offering extended hours, weekend visits and will do everything we can to see people as quickly as possible in order to catch up. If you have questions about these issues, please call your provider’s office to set up a telehealth visit.