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Women who have had OB/GYN appointments scheduled within the last few weeks have probably had a telephone call from their practitioners letting them know that their appointment has been postponed or canceled as many doctor’s offices are shut down for non-emergency care, and are only handling emergency care or diagnosing and treating Covid-19.
In these times, there is an option to connect by phone of video when you’re experiencing non-urgent but highly uncomfortable issues or need to have a prescription phoned in.
Lauren Streicher, MD, OB/GYN at Northwestern University encourages her patients experiencing gynecologic issues during the Covid crises to contact their healthcare professionals (which includes either family physician, internist, obstetrician–gynecologist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner) if they have a gynecologic concern.
But she is aware that many health care professionals are either not set up to treat patients using telemedicine or simply aren’t available given their focus is now on critically ill patients.
“Even with mandates to ‘shelter in place,’ women can safely and effectively take care of many common health issues right at home,” Dr. Streicher advises. “But still, it is important to know when something does require immediate medical attention.”
She offers the following tips to help women prepare their own at home ‘gyne toolkit’ to address common issues:
· Plan ahead with a 3-Month Supply of prescriptions such as birth control pills. If your insurance won’t give you more than a month at a time, Dr. Streicher offers ways to cut out of pocket costs on prescription drugs.
· Horrible, painful periods? Yes, there are at home remedies that actually work.
· Unprotected sex? In the U.S., there are two FDA approved over the counter forms of emergency contraception. Dr. Streicher stresses that the on sooner you take Emergency Contraception, the more effectively it works – so it’s best to prepare and have it on hand! And, as always stock up on condoms.
· Control that recurring UTI. There is nothing worse than a UTI when you can’t get a prescription. Have antibiotics on hand just in case. Additionally, studies show that if you increase your daily fluid intake of water to 2-3 liters on a regular basis, you can flush out sticky bacteria and prevent infection. An oral vaginal probiotic like Pro-B may keep yeast and bacteria balanced everyday by increasing vaginal lactobacilli and preventing the colonization of vaginal E.coli finding its way into the urinary tract.
· Vaginal discharge?Know how to determine if it is yeast or bacterial vaginosis so you know which over the counter product to use. Make sure to have Vaginal pH balancing Gel in your Gyne Toolkit to keep pH balanced to normal after common occurrences like sex and menstruation.
· Pelvic floor PT cancelled? If you are going to stick to kegel exercises, make sure you are. Also, there are over the counter, at home devices developed in conjunction with pelvic floor physical therapists that are FDA cleared for the treatment of both urinary and fecal incontinence.
· Painful sex? Sheltering in place, can mean more sex, (Yay!) although in some cases this is less than pleasurable. You don’t necessarily need to see your gyne to get help. Stock up on Replens Moisturizer to eliminate vaginal dryness and painful sex, especially for women who are breastfeeding, in cancer treatment or menopause. And, remember to have a good silicone lube on hand to use just before sex to eliminate abrasion and ease penetration. A moisture is not the same as a lube.
· Abnormal bleeding? Don’t panic. Find out what the causes are and when you need to act, and when it is OK to wait it out.
· Pregnant? Having pain? Anis potentially life threatening and demands attention. Call your healthcare provider immediately.
- Stock up on vitamin-D. It facilitates the absorption of calcium that can decrease bone loss and reduce your risk of breaking a bone. They are easy to take, especially a gummy like vitafusion.
“Instead of consulting Dr. Google, who is usually wrong, check out my website at DrStreicher.com, it is the go to women’s health site for reliable, up to date, information about what to do in almost every circumstance when you are stuck at home and can’t reach your own doctor,” adds Streicher.
There you have it, moms and moms-to-be, answers at your computer fingertips. We suggest you use it.