Never before living in a reality where a simple trip to see family or a ride on the subway has become a health hazard, our new normal during the Coronavirus pandemic is a jumbled mix of restrictions. We are finding new ways of doing simple tasks, albeit mixed with a lot of fear surrounding it all.
The gist: Imposed restrictions and fear
While most of us, no matter what state you reside, are advised not to leave our home except for essentials, such as grocery shopping or pharmacy runs, many of us have become afraid to even do those things. The majority of us are opting to order food deliveries rather than brave crowded stores. Many of us are putting off doctor's visits and that can actually be unsafe. It's wise to remember that if you are ever having trouble breathing, chest pain, severe abdominal pain, signs of a stroke, or any other emergency, you should call an ambulance. In emergency cases, it's safer to go to a hospital to get the immediate help you need.
The controversy: Most of us don’t know what is safe
Every single day, it seems like a new symptom or fact is revealed about this new virus as scientists scramble to find a treatment and a cure. The 24/7 news makes it impossible for anyone to not hear about all the often-terrifying findings. So many health services, even elective surgeries, have been suspended yet there are several instances when we need to take care of our health and well being even under lockdown restrictions.
To sum it up: It depends
There are no clear cut answers to every single thing regarding what you should and should not do during the quarantine. If you are in the high-risk category, you should make it a point to avoid all unnecessary contact. Here are the answers to some common questions:
Should I brave the pharmacy to refill my birth control? If I’m not having sex, can I skip the pill until the lockdown is over?
If you are sexually active, you should get your birth control prescription filled unless you want to become pregnant. Most pharmacies have no contact delivery so if you really do want to step foot in a pharmacy, you can request an at-home delivery. Just make sure that you do it in advance because pharmacies are overwhelmed. You may even be able to call your insurance to set up prescriptions by mail. If you are not having sex now but may once the quarantine lifts, it is still best to stay on your regular birth control method so you don't have to wait weeks for it to be effective.
Check out our Birth Control Guide!
My annual pap smear was canceled but how long can I put it off before having to go a possibly contaminated doctor’s office?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you don't necessarily need an annual pap smear.
If you are 21-29 years old: You should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If your Pap test result is normal, you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
If you are 30-65 years old: There are three options: A pap test only, an HPV test only, both a pap and an HPV test.
- A Pap test only. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
- An HPV test only. This is called primary HPV testing. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
- An HPV test along with the Pap test. This is called co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
If you are older than 65: You may not need to be screened anymore if:
- You have had normal screening test results for several years, or
- You have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, like fibroids.
I think I may have a urinary tract infection or an std — should I get that checked out or wait it out?
Pain or itch in the genital area is something that should NOT be overlooked. With STDs, yeast infections, and UTI's, the pain and itch will likely only worsen and has the potential to cause secondary infections. Some telemedicine visits are available for these problems and doctors may prescribe medication after a virtual visit.
What should I do if I think I’m pregnant? How long can I wait before I need to have a first prenatal appointment?
If you don't know if you are pregnant yet and don't want to venture out to buy a pregnancy test, you should start by taking our Online Pregnancy Test. However, if you know you are already pregnant and wondering how long you can put off going to a doctor's office, the first thing to do is call your doctor.
If you don't have a doctor, start researching potential Ob-Gyns and call a few to ask for their advice. Inquire what their social distancing policies are in the office and what safety procedures they are taking.
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