womens health

Women's Health Connecticut Sounds Alarm on Women Missing Annual Exams

The Chief Medical Officer says skipping routine checkups can leave serious health problems undetected.

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you might have sweets and flowers on the mind for your loved one, but one doctor says the best gift you can give your wife or girlfriend is the chance to go to a check-up.

Dr. Matthew Saidel, chief medical Officer for Women’s Health Connecticut, is seeing an uptick in women missing routine visits to the doctor. He wants to make sure they realize the risks they are taking.

Two years in a pandemic is not an anniversary worth celebrating, and among the impacts that COVID-19 continue to have are more stressors on women.

“So many women have so many responsibilities. They're taking care of so many other people,” Dr. Saidel said. “They are caregivers, and we don't give them the time to take care of themselves. One of the fall outs from that is that people forget their annual checkups.”

It is a trend Dr. Saidel is seeing through his work at Women’s Health Connecticut, even though the state’s largest OB/GYN network has been open throughout the pandemic.

“Women forget their annual visits to their OB/GYNs, and they're late for their mammograms,” he said.

Women’s Health Connecticut serves 300,000 women each year, but reports that with the pandemic, 5% to 10% of those patients are not going to their annual checkups. That means up to 30,000 women are missing those trips to the doctor’s office.

“If it's a month late or two months late, it may not make much difference. But when time starts to go by, and it's 18 months or even a couple of years, things happen,” Dr. Saidel said.

Time is critical when it comes to early detection of breast or cervical cancer.

“It's not a problem unless it is,” Dr. Saidel said. “We all wish that, 'Oh, I wish I would have caught this six months earlier, a year earlier.' A lot of the conditions that we take care of in women's health care are things that are preventable, if we catch them early.”

Dr. Saidel said encouragement from a woman’s partner plays a huge role in her health, so while you’re probably getting ready to shower your Valentine with heart-shaped candies, now is a good time to encourage her to check out her heart, along with other aspects of her health.

“What better gift could you give someone than to give them the reminder and the time to go and see their doctors?” Dr. Saidel said.

He adds that at these checkups, medical professionals are also doing mental health screenings and connecting women to virtual resources that can help them deal with stress or depression driven by the pandemic.

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