“An annual exam is about much more than a Pap smear, said Dr. Martinelli. “It’s an important time to evaluate your overall health, both physical and mental. We understand that during the coronavirus, you may be worried about visiting a health care practice. We want to assure you that we have taken every precaution to ensure that you are safe.”
Some of the methods we use to keep you safe include:
- We pre-screen all patients before they have an in-person appointment.
- We require everyone to call the office before entering the waiting room.
- Any patients that have a fever, cough or shortness of breath will be rescheduled or directed to our telemedicine services.
- We limit patients to having one support person with them at any appointment.
- We repeatedly and extensively clean all patient rooms after each visit. We also thoroughly disinfect the waiting room and the restrooms.
We want you to be safe!
We realize, with all the anxiety about COVID-19, that it is very tempting to skip your Pap smear. However, skipping your Pap smear and your annual physical exam can actually put your health at risk.
Cervical Cancer: Facts and Figures
According to the American Cancer Society:
In 2020, an estimated 13,800 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed, and 4,290 women will die from cervical cancer. These cases arise from approximately 3 million abnormal pap smears that are detected each year.
Early detection is critical: cervical pre-cancers are diagnosed much more often than invasive cancer.
Many older women do not realize that they are still at risk of cervical cancer. In fact, more than 20 percent of the cases of cervical cancer are found in women over 65 years old.
How Often Should You Get a Pap Smear?
This depends upon if you’ve had any abnormal Pap smears in the past. However, typically we recommend that women who are 21 to 29 have a Pap smear every 3 years. Those who are 30 to 65 years old should have a Pap smear and an HPV test every three to five years.
However, if patients prefer, we will do a Pap smear yearly.
If you have a history of cervical cancer or you’ve previously had abnormal results then we may recommend testing every year or beyond age 65.
An Annual Physical Exam is More Than a Pap Smear
Your annual physical exam gives us a picture of your overall health. At your annual physical we can discuss subjects related to:
If you’re unsure about what method of birth control is right for you, we can help. There are many options and we can help determine which one is right.
If you have heavy, painful, or irregular periods; we can work together to make them better.
If you’re planning to get pregnant, we’d like to speak with you. We want to go over ways that you and your baby can have the healthiest start in life possible. This includes things such as taking prenatal vitamins that are rich in folic acid.
We want to monitor your blood work for signs of high cholesterol, diabetes and other chronic diseases. We can perform the screening tests, and we are glad to work in collaboration with your primary care provider to manage these conditions.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with anxiety? We want to help. We believe your mental health is a vital component of your overall wellness. If you’ve been experiencing depression or worry to the point that you are unable to complete daily tasks, please mention it to us at your next appointment.
Clinical Breast Exam
The key to surviving breast cancer is early detection. In addition to regular mammograms, a clinical breast exam is an important part of this equation.
Health Care Is About Much More Than Your Pap Smear
We encourage you to have regular Pap smears. They are a vital part of your regular checkups. However, your annual exam encompasses much more.
Delaying or canceling your annual exam can place you at greater risk for other diseases. We have gone to extensive lengths at our practice to ensure your safety, so don’t let the fear of the coronavirus keep you from the health care you need.
We encourage you to contact us for an appointment, especially if it’s time for your regular Pap smear.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.