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DO NOT BE AFRAID

by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | June 7th, 2020

DO NOT BE AFRAID

On June 5, 2020 at 1:00 PM, I joined my colleagues to kneel for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. I was off from work that day but participated by doing it in front of my house.  Eight minutes and 46 seconds is a long time. My mind was racing. I thought about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Botham Jean. I thought about health care disparities. Why do four times more black women die giving birth to a child? Why is it that more black women die of cancer than any other ethnic group? Why do three times more black women die of heart disease? Why are black babies two times less likely to celebrate their first birthday?  Will things really change?  By the end of the 8 minutes and 46 seconds, I convinced myself that things will change and I will do my part.

We have gone from COVID to PROTEST and I want to make sure that we have not forgotten about our health. There are several people still afraid to visit their health care provider due to fear of being exposed to the coronavirus. Health care facilities are complying with CDC guidelines to make sure that they are safe.  There are five gynecologic symptoms that you should no longer postpone getting help:

  1. Abnormal uterine bleeding particularly postmenopausal bleeding –If you have gone a full year without bleeding and all of a sudden you see blood even if it is a spot, you need to be evaluated. We do not have a screening test for endometrial cancer like we do for cervical cancer (pap smear) or breast cancer (mammogram). The screening test for endometrial cancer is your complaint of abnormal bleeding.  Please see your physician.
  2. Abnormal pap smear – if your pap smear was abnormal and you were to have a colposcopy or a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), please take care of it now. The purpose of the pap smear is to catch problems with the cervix before it becomes cancer.
  3. Breast lump – call your health care provider and schedule your mammogram and/ or breast ultrasound now.
  4. Abnormal vaginal discharge– If your discharge has not resolved with your home remedies or over the counter medication, please see your physician. Discharge that is associated with odor, itching or abdominal pain needs to be evaluated.
  5. Pelvic pain – Be prepared to describe your pain. Where exactly is your pain? Is it associated with nausea or vomiting. Have you had a change in appetite or your bowel movement? Do you have problems with urination?

It is time to schedule your appointment with your health care provider. DO NOT BE AFRAID. Follow their instructions. Be open to how things have changed in the office. What is important is that you get the care that you need.

2 Responses to “DO NOT BE AFRAID”

  1. Thank you for protesting alone in front of your home. Yes, I know 8 minutes, 46 seconds must have felt like such a looong time.

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Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.
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The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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