Maternal Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In honor of mental health awareness month, we’re focusing on an important topic that doesn’t get discussed nearly enough: maternal mental health. There’s no denying that stress, anxiety, and other mental health struggles are common during pregnancy and after childbirth. In fact, research shows that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of women experience mental health challenges at some point during the time between pregnancy and the year after giving birth. These challenges can range from mild to severe and can present in various ways, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and more.

During this time between pregnancy and a year after childbirth, somewhere around 15 percent of women experience depression and anxiety. New moms are typically extremely busy, tired, and under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure.

But throw a pandemic into the mix and the collective weight of these mental health issues is heavier than ever before. It’s not nearly as easy as before to get support from others, and this can leave many feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and anxious.

You may be determined to cope on your own without seeking help, but it’s important to address these mental health challenges rather than ignore them. Failing to address these mental health challenges can have serious consequences in terms of your health, including increased risk of suicide, as well as a negative impact on your baby’s development.

If you’re feeling extra stressed and overwhelmed these days, you’re not alone. Loneliness and isolation have become more common during the pandemic due to social distancing requirements and can even contribute to additional stress and anxiety. You may feel more afraid or sad than usual or notice that you’ve been having trouble concentrating. Some people are noticing changes to their appetite, while others are having trouble sleeping. Stress can also lead to worsening of chronic health conditions, and can contribute to physical reactions like pain, stomach issues, and rashes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a number of key ways to cope with this pandemic related stress. Here’s what they suggest:

  • Take time off from consuming the news and other forms of media, including social media.
  • Treat your body with care. This might include meditation, breath work, eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and keeping alcohol intake low. Also, stay up to date on routine, preventive health measures like vaccinations (including the COVID-19 vaccine) and screenings that are recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Give yourself time to relax and unwind.
  • Spend time connecting with other individuals and talking about things that are bothering you. Remember that even in situations where social distancing is necessary, you can still connect with others online, over the phone, or on social media.

If you’re struggling with mental health challenges and need help, reach out to a healthcare provider. If you have thoughts of suicide or feel like you may be in a crisis, it’s extremely important to seek help. This could mean calling 911, or reaching out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255 or the Lifeline Crisis Chat. The lifeline offers free support 24/7.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or Trying to Get Pregnant

Deciding whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a very individualized decision, but should be an option among women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and trying to get pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says.

“While data is still being collected about these vaccines, we believe that in the vast majority of cases, the benefits outweigh the risks, and the vaccine is much safer than contracting COVID-19,” ACOG says. 

As you make your choice about vaccination, consider how much the virus is circulating within your area or community, the vaccine’s potential efficacy, the risks of COVID-19 on your fetus or newborn, and the safety of the vaccine among pregnant women and their fetus.

At this point, further data and research are needed to know more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines among pregnant women, but experts believe the vaccine isn’t likely to be unsafe among people who are pregnant. As clinical trials progress and additional data on COVID-19 vaccinations and pregnancy becomes available, this information will help inform future recommendations.

This type of information is already beginning to become available and making it easier for women to make informed decisions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Results from a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, for example, show that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe and effective among pregnant and lactating women. Beyond safety, the study shows that the vaccines also elicit strong immune responses among pregnant women that can also be transferred to their babies.

Transferring antibodies
We don’t know with certainty whether breastmilk will contain COVID-19 antibodies that can be transferred from a mother to her infant. Results from a recent small study showed significant levels of antibodies in the breastmilk of people who have received the COVID-19 vaccination, but future research is needed in this area. 

COVID-19 vaccines and fertility
Some false information has been circulating regarding COVID-19 vaccines and infertility, but it’s important to understand that there is no evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccine impacts fertility.

“There is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the clinical trials of the vaccine, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization, and no signs of infertility appeared in animal studies. Loss of fertility is scientifically unlikely,” ACOG says.

When to get vaccinated
Current recommendations suggest that people get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them. There is no need to receive the vaccination during a specific stage of pregnancy.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Should I Wait to Get a Mammogram Following a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, there’s been a surprising vaccine side effect that’s been drawing a lot of attention. It seems that swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and collarbone area are a fairly prominent side effect of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. These swollen lymph nodes are temporary and not a cause for concern, researchers say. But in some cases, they could be mistaken as a sign of breast cancer in mammogram results.

The reason some people experience swelling after vaccination is because our lymph nodes play an important role in the immune system. We have lymph nodes throughout our bodies, but there are clusters of them in the neck, armpits, chest, and a few other areas. They help us fight infection and disease, and may swell as a result of the immune system’s healthy response to the vaccine. This swelling is normal and nothing to worry about. The confusion comes in because breast cancer can also cause swelling in the lymph nodes and look similar on a mammogram.

This leaves many people wondering if they should delay their mammogram to avoid potentially unclear, confusing, or alarming mammogram findings. At the same time, mammograms play a crucial role in detecting breast cancer, so they shouldn’t be avoided altogether.

The Mayo Clinic recommends continuing with mammograms as scheduled, even following a COVID-19 vaccination. But they stress the importance of notifying your healthcare provider about your vaccination, including the vaccine date and the arm in which the vaccine was administered. This information can help your healthcare provider better understand the mammogram results, especially if they detect swelling in your lymph nodes on the side of the body that you were vaccinated.

Another option supported by healthcare providers is to postpone your screening mammogram to four to six weeks after your final vaccine dose, giving time for any swelling to subside.

“Having a screening mammogram soon after vaccination may cause unnecessary worry about swollen lymph nodes,” says Monte Swarup, MD, an ob/gyn at Arizona OBGYN Affiliates. “Waiting four to six weeks after your final vaccine dose before having a screening mammogram will diminish the concern for a false positive result and its associated anxiety. Please do not delay any diagnostic mammograms.”

If you’re still feeling unsure about when to have your mammogram, check with your healthcare provider for their recommendation.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Should Pregnant and Lactating Women Get the Coronavirus Vaccine?

One of the most pressing concerns right now among pregnant and lactating individuals is whether to get a COVID-19 vaccination when it becomes available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant patients with symptomatic COVID-19 are at an increased risk for severe illness compared with individuals who are not pregnant.

Given this risk, the general recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC is that pregnant and lactating women should be offered a vaccination if they are part of certain populations, such as frontline essential workers, and at the discretion and direction of their provider. More specifically, ACOG makes the following recommendations:

  • COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on (ACIP)-recommended priority groups.
  • COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals when they meet criteria for receipt of the vaccine based on prioritization groups outlined by the ACIP.

The prioritization groups outlined by the ACIP continue to evolve as time goes on and more vaccines become available, but they currently include healthcare workers and frontline essential workers (including first responders, educators, food and agriculture workers, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, public transit workers, and grocery store workers), as well as long-term care facility residents, adults 65 and older, and people with high-risk medical conditions who are between the age of 16 and 64.

Compared with non-pregnant individuals, people who are pregnant with symptomatic COVID-19 are at an increased risk of death, ICU admission, and the need for ventilation. Pregnant individuals may also be at an increased risk for preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. As is seen in the broader population, pregnant Hispanic and Black individuals are experiencing disproportionately higher infection and death rates from COVID-19. And among women who are Asian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, there is a heightened risk of ICU admission.

But despite knowing that pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe infection, this still leaves a big question: is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant women? At this point, the data on COVID-19 vaccine safety during pregnancy is still limited. Vaccine manufacturers are monitoring people who became pregnant while enrolled in vaccine clinical trials, and further studies among pregnant individuals are planned.

“Based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant,” the CDC reports. “However, the actual risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and her fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant women.”

If you’re not sure about vaccination, remember—the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, and your healthcare provider can help answer any questions or concerns you may have. You may want to speak with a doctor about how the vaccine works, its potential side effects, the lack of vaccine data among pregnant individuals, and how COVID-19 could affect you and your fetus. You can also find out more about vaccine recommendations for pregnant and lactating women on this CDC information page.

“AOA physicians are aligned with the recommendations from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)”, says Monte Swarup, MD, FACOG. “The current recommendation is that the vaccination should be available to pregnant and lactating women if they are part of certain populations, such as frontline essential workers, and at the discretion and direction of their provider. The research on vaccine safety during pregnancy and lactation is currently limited, but we believe the vaccine is unlikely to pose a specific risk among pregnant individuals and those who are breastfeeding.”

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

8 Secrets to Being a Happy Mom

There’s no denying that becoming a mother is often an experience that’s filled with joy. At the same time, it can be tricky to soak in all the good moments when you’re also feeling stressed and exhausted. Many new moms are sleep deprived, busy trying to resolve items on a never-ending to-do list, stressed, and dragged down in a quest for perfection. If that sounds familiar, we have eight tips to help you bring more happiness into your life as a new mom.

Savor the peaceful moments.
Whether it’s an evening bath, an afternoon with a friend, or heading outside for a walk at lunch, it’s important to take some time to yourself and also to appreciate the quiet and peaceful moments in your day. Use these small moments to ease stress and rejuvenate for the remainder of your day.

Treat yourself to something nice.
Every once in a while, a small splurge may be exactly what you need. This could be as simple as some new make-up or a book or magazine to flip through when the baby is asleep.

Discover the wonder of audiobooks.
As a new mom, it’s normal to feel like you’re constantly busy with no free time to indulge in any leisurely hobbies and activities. One way to reclaim some time for leisure is to download an audiobook onto your phone for easy listening while you breastfeed or take a stroller walk. A local library is a great way to access audiobooks free of charge, or you can try an app like Audible. Not into audiobooks? Feel free to swap out for a guided meditation!

Try a jogging stroller.
It’s hard to fit workouts into your daily routine when you have a baby at home. But if you’re a runner (or have been thinking about getting into running) you likely won’t regret getting a jogging stroller. Along with the benefits of the workout itself, this is also a great way to treat you and your baby to some fresh air.

Bake or cook a meal you love.
Cooking and baking are both a great way to relieve stress. Even better, you’ll end up with something delicious to eat for a meal or snack on when you’re done.

Have a dance party with your little one.
Music can turn any bad mood around, right? If you’re feeling tired, antsy, or simply in a bad mood, throw on a favorite song (better yet, make a whole playlist) and have a dance party with your baby right at home.

Try meditation or yoga.
If you’re feeling tense, stressed, and irritable, it may be time to start a yoga or meditation practice. This doesn’t need to be a crazy or daunting endeavor—start small by devoting just a bit of time out of each day, and you can always work your way up. There are many yoga classes and meditations available on YouTube, or you can try an app like Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace.

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself.
It’s completely natural to want to get everything right and do everything you can for your family, but many moms can seriously benefit from reducing the amount of pressure they put on themselves each day. Try to loosen your expectations, remember that you’re doing enough, and know that no one expects you to be perfect.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Can Sex Make You Look Younger? One Researcher Says Yes

When asked, most of us are aware of at least a handful of benefits to having sex— pleasure and stress relief being just a couple of them. But did you know sex may make you look younger, too? According to researcher and clinical psychologist Dr. David Weeks, who is based in the United Kingdom, having sex regularly can make you look somewhere between five and seven years younger than you actually are.

To conduct his research, Dr. Weeks interviewed men and women of all ages over a period of more than 10 years. Among the study participants who were between 40 and 50 years old, those who looked youngest had sex 50 percent more frequently.

Weeks suggests that sexual pleasure and satisfaction are key factors in preserving our youth. Intercourse with the same partner is most beneficial, Dr. Weeks says, because casual sex can bring on emotional states like anxiety and a lack of security, both of which are associated with a loss of youth.

“Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to quality of life, ranking at least as high as spiritual or religious commitment and other morale factors, so more positive attitudes towards mature sex should be vigorously promoted,” he is quoted as saying in the Huffington Post. “Sexuality is not the prerogative of younger people and nor should it be.”

While Dr. Weeks’ research is promising, further research on this topic is needed to learn more about whether sex really makes us look younger, and if so, why. But aside from potentially making us look younger, sex comes with a lot of other amazing benefits, like increasing your confidence, lowering your blood pressure and heart attack risk, making your skin glow, reducing pain, and increasing libido. It can even boost your immune system.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

New Research: COVID-19 and Pregnancy

Since the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest and most important questions researchers aimed to find out was whether pregnant women are at an increased risk of complications from the virus. And while it’s become clear that the overall COVID-19 risk among pregnant women is low, some recent research suggests that pregnant women may be at higher risk for severe illness than women who are not pregnant.

But what does higher risk for severe illness even mean? It means pregnant women with COVID-19 could be more likely to develop respiratory complications that require intensive care and may be more likely to require a ventilator. Pregnant women are also more likely to require admission to an intensive care unit and are at an increased risk of death. The risk appears to be greatest among women who are between the ages of 35 and 44.

The research also suggests that pregnant women who have COVID-19 may be at higher risk for complications like giving birth early, also known as preterm birth. Additionally, the research shows that babies born to mothers with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to a neonatal care unit.

Further research and analysis is still needed, but researchers believe the reason pregnant women may be at increased risk for these more severe outcomes is due to some of the physiological changes that take place during pregnancy. This includes factors like an increased heart rate, lower lung capacity, and more.

Though these risks exist, this doesn’t mean you need to panic if you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant soon. A Nov. 19, 2020 study published in JAMA Open Network from UT Southwestern shows that approximately 5 percent of all COVID-19 positive mothers developed severe illness.

You can reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 by following public health recommendations such as staying six feet away from people who don’t live with you (social distancing), washing your hands with soap and water regularly, wearing a face mask, and being mindful not to touch your eyes, mouth, nose, and other parts of your face.

If you start to feel sick at any point or believe you may have been exposed to the virus, contact your physician right away for their guidance on testing and treatment. And remember that when you’re feeling sick, it’s important to stay home and avoid situations where you could possibly infect other people.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Is It Ever Safe to Stop Getting Mammograms?

A mammogram is a special type of breast x-ray that allows medical professionals to look for changes in breast tissue and detect early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are extremely important because they’re the best way to detect breast cancer early, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). In some cases, mammograms are able to detect breast cancer three years before it can be felt or detected otherwise.

You’re probably beginning to get the point by now that regular mammograms are an important step in protecting your health, even if you don’t have any problems or symptoms related to your breasts. But are mammograms necessary throughout life? Keep reading to find out.

Here’s how often you need to get mammograms
For women with no history of cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends seeing your doctor for a mammogram every year from age 40 through age 54, and every other year from that point on. From age 55 onwards, you can transition to a mammogram every other year until you are 75. Once you hit 75, you’ll want to have a conversation with healthcare provider about whether you should continue to have mammograms, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

If you have a history of breast cancer, the recommendations for mammogram screening may be different. Recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Cancer Society suggest continuing yearly mammograms for women who have had a unilateral mastectomy or lumpectomy. These mammograms may play an important role in detecting a recurrence of breast cancer or new breast cancer. 

But among women who are older than 75, the guidelines aren’t as cut and dry. ASCO points out two scenarios where regular mammograms may not be recommended or necessary.

The first scenario is among women with significant medical conditions, such as stroke or heart disease, that may pose a higher risk of death than breast cancer. In these situations, it’s not entirely clear whether continuing mammograms through the lifespan is necessary, ASCO points out.

The next scenario is among women who were previously treated for lower-risk types of breast cancer and are now taking medication that lowers their risk of breast cancer. In these situations, mammograms may not as important compared to a case where someone isn’t on this type of medication.

Since mammogram recommendations vary from one woman to another, the best thing you can do once you get close to age 75 is have a discussion with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan that makes the most sense for you.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Improve Your Sex Life with Six Simple Exercises

When life gets busy, it’s easy to let exercise fall out of your regular routine. But we have some potentially motivating news that may encourage you to keep exercise in your day-to-day life. In addition to a tremendous number of health benefits, exercise may also boost your sex life by increasing arousal, desire, and satisfaction. Sex boosts sexual function for number of reasons, such as by increasing blood flow, improving strength and stamina, and increasing levels of testosterone, which may potentially increase sex drive.

Family morning exercise. Mother doing plank, father holding their baby on her back, so he would ride her, including child in activity. Family quarantine, domestic life in self-isolation. Sunset light from the windows.

With that in mind, here are six exercises to improve your sex life:

Go for a jog or bike ride.
Cardiovascular exercise improves your blood flow, including to the regions you experience sexual pleasure. Research shows that cardiovascular exercise can increase pleasure for men and women, leading to increased arousal for women and stronger erections for men. Additionally, getting regular cardiovascular exercise—whether by running, walking, swimming, cycling, or another activity you love—has other benefits on your sex life, such as boosting endurance, strength and flexibility.

Get in the routine of doing Kegels.
Kegels help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which play an important role in bladder control and may also benefit your sex life. Here are some tips for getting Kegel exercises right, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:

  • Start by identifying your pelvic floor muscles—an easy way to do so is to stop urinating mid-stream.
  • Work on your technique. “Imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three,” the Mayo Clinic suggests
  • Make sure you’re only tightening the pelvic floor muscles rather than engaging additional muscles. And don’t hold your breath!
  • Repeat until you get the hang of it. The Mayo Clinic suggests completing three sets of between 10 and 15 repetitions each day. One great thing about Kegels is you can do them from anywhere.

Challenge yourself to a plank.
Planks and other core exercises can help improve your sex life by building strength, balance, and stamina. To get your core at its strongest, think planks, crunches, and other similar exercises.

For the perfect plank pose, start on your hands and knees with your knees directly beneath your hips and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your feet back one at a time, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels, so that your body resembles the shape of a plank. Tighten your abs, glutes, and quadriceps and hold for 30 seconds. After resting for 30 seconds to a minute, try holding plank pose for another 30 seconds. Check out this piece from Women’s Health for a visual.

Get strong with mountain climbers.
Requiring no equipment but your body, mountain climbers are a great way to work on stability and balance. This is a particularly good exercise because it requires many of the same muscles you activate during sex.

To do mountain climbers, get in the position you would assume for a plank or a pushup. While keeping your back straight, bend one knee into the chest and then return it to the starting position. Then do the same with the other leg. Once you get the hang of it, begin to move more quickly, switching back and forth between legs.

Strengthen with a bridge.
In addition to strengthening the pelvic floor, bridges also strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, both of which are used as you thrust during sex.

To practice this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground with your arms extended along your sides. Push through your heels as you raise your pelvis, keeping your shoulders and upper back on the mat. Squeeze your glutes when you reach the top of your bridge pose before lowering your pelvis back to the ground in a slow and controlled movement. Repeat 10-15 times. Alternatively, you can hold your bridge pose for 30-60 seconds.

Perfect your pushups.
Pushups are a full-body strength-building exercise that are extra helpful if you prefer to be on top during sex and for any positions that require full body engagement.

To do a pushup, begin by coming into a plank-like position with straight arms and palms beneath your shoulders. With your core engaged and while maintaining a stable and straight line from head to feet, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest hovers just above the ground. Push into your hands as you extend your arms and return to the position you started, again maintaining a straight line to avoid sagging in the hips or any other part of the body.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Don’t Cancel Your Doctor Appointments During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many changes and challenges our way. Many aspects of our lives that were once routine—like having friends over for dinner—now feel like a distant memory. And while it’s important to change our habits to protect our health and reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission, some aspects of life shouldn’t be avoided or put on hold, including medical care.

If you’ve recently cancelled a routine medical visit or thought twice about seeking out care for a new ailment that’s bothering you, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), up to 40% of adults reported that they have delayed or avoided medical care over the course of the pandemic due to COVID-19-related concerns. Some even avoided urgent care and visits to the emergency department, as evidenced by a decline in the number of emergency visits for heart attack, stroke, and other conditions.

Unfortunately, in some cases, you could be putting your health at risk by avoiding medical care. Determining whether to stay home or visit a healthcare facility during these challenging times is a decision that must be carefully considered—there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to medical care during a pandemic.

Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Don’t avoid visits to the emergency room.
If you’re facing an emergency medical situation, it’s important to see a healthcare provider, whether at a hospital, urgent care facility, or at your physician’s office. If you’re having trouble breathing, suffering from chest pain or pressure, experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, and other emergency conditions, it’s best to seek treatment rather than stay home.

Continue your treatment for chronic conditions.
It’s important to continue to see your healthcare provider to manage chronic conditions. Many conditions can be managed virtually, while some require visiting a healthcare facility, so it’s a good idea to speak to your physician to come up with a plan to continue your care in the safest way possible. If you are at increased risk for COVID-19, speaking to your healthcare provider to come up with a care plan is particularly important.

Don’t skip out on routine cancer screenings
If you have an upcoming mammogram or pap smear, it’s best not to put this off‚ especially if you’re at high risk for cancer and other conditions. These exams are particularly important if you have a personal or family history of cancer or have received abnormal results from a screening in the past.

Visit your provider for important vaccines
You may be tempted to skip a flu vaccine this year, but the CDC reports that the influenza vaccine is more important than ever before this fall. In addition to seeing your physician, you may be able to get this vaccine at a pharmacy or a walk-in clinic. 

Look into COVID-19 safety protocols ahead of time.
Many healthcare facilities list their COVID-19 safety protocols on their website—take a look before leaving the house (or even before making an appointment) so you know what to expect and can plan ahead. Your provider may offer the option to fill out forms online or to wait in your car until it’s time to see your healthcare provider.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.