We’ve all missed out on so much over the past year, but there’s one thing in particular that has doctors concerned. Women are much more likely to have gone without healthcare than men during the pandemic, and doctors are worried it could have a major impact on women’s health going forward.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) Women’s Health Survey found that 38 percent of women had skipped preventative care during the pandemic, including annual exams and routine tests. Alarmingly, women who categorized themselves as having just fair or poor health (as compared to good health) were even more likely to delay routine care, at about 46 percent—perhaps due to fears of being exposed to the virus.
Women who said they were in fair or poor health also reported not being able to fill their prescriptions or skipping doses. Some even resorted to cutting their pills in half to make their refills stretch further.
All this has had a worrisome effect, especially on women with pre-existing health or financial issues. More than a quarter of this same group of women says their symptoms have gotten worse since the pandemic began.
For many moms, it’ll come as no surprise that women have been missing their healthcare appointments in greater numbers than men since the pandemic began. So many women have taken charge of childcare and remote school on top of their own jobs, leaving little time for their own needs.
If squeezing in time for a doctor appointment is difficult for you, opting for a telehealth visit may help—and could help ease any concerns about Covid-19 exposure. The KFF survey found that the number of Americans taking advantage of telehealth appointments jumped from 1 in 10 to 1 in 3—but noted that they can’t fully take the place of in-person visits.
Delaying medical care is a danger to women’s health that doctors say we need to start addressing now. As noted in the KFF study, “These gaps in care could translate into higher numbers of women experiencing severe health issues after the health emergency from the pandemic resolves.” For any mama who’s been putting off a check-up during the pandemic—it may be time to finally get in touch with your doctor.