CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As many doctors’ offices shut down for anything other than emergency care or diagnosing and treating Covid-19, women sheltering in place might be frustrated by their little or lack of access to their doctors when experiencing non-urgent, but highly uncomfortable issues.
Lauren Streicher, MD, OB/GYN at Northwestern University encourages 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. Many clinicians can connect by phone or video and give recommendations or phone in prescriptions. On the other hand, many healthcare professionals are either not set up to utilize telemedicine or simply unavailable as they focus on critically ill patients. However, at a time when medical care for non-urgent issues is not readily available, women can prepare to care for their common health issues at home.
“Even with mandates to ‘shelter in place,’ women can safely and effectively take care of many common health issues right at home,” says Dr. Streicher. “But still, it is important to know when something does require immediate medical attention.”
Dr. Streicher 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 sooner you take Emergency Contraception, the more effectively it works – so it’s best to be prepared 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? Funky odor? Know how to determine if it is yeast or bacterial vaginosis so you know which over the counter product to sure to have pH-balancing, RepHresh 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 doing them correctly. Also, there are over the counter, at home devices like Attain developed in conjunction with pelvic floor physical therapists that are FDA cleared for the treatment of both urinary and fecal incontinence. Find out how to have a home, personal trainer for your pelvic floor.
- 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 help 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 moisturizer is not the same as a lube.
- Abnormal bleeding? Don’t panic. Find out what the causes are, when you need to act, and when it is OK to wait it out.
- Pregnant? Having pain? An ectopic pregnancy is 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 vitamin 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.