I’m beyond excited to announce the launch of GYNOPEDIA — an online resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. It’s a wiki, so everyone is invited to contribute, and please, PLEASE do. The basic idea is that you search for a city — for example, New York City — and Gynopedia provides practical, non-judgmental information based on that location. So, let’s say you want to find a low-cost clinic in New York, or an LGBT-friendly gynecologist in Bangkok, or the morning after pill in Lima. Well, Gynopedia is the resource for you.
Why did I create Gynopedia? Honestly, because I couldn’t find anything like it. When I began preparing for my travels, I realized that I had no idea how I would get birth control in the twelve or so Asian countries we planned to visit. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. How about annual pap smears? What if I got pregnant? Then I remembered that, when I lived in Turkey, I was never able to get a proper STD test, which was endlessly frustrating. Later, when I lived in New York, I found myself uninsured and in need of a gynecologist. Time and again, I’ve needed advice from local people and lacked a comprehensive online resource. This made me enraged yet wildly inspired. And so Gynopedia was born.
Without going any further, if you’re curious, you can check out the format of the NYC page. The page still lacks a lot of info, but you can see how it looks.
The basic idea is that Gynopedia pages are based on a location. So, to access the NYC page, simply search for “New York City.” Once the page comes up, you’ll see that it’s divided into ten categories: contraception, emergency contraception (e.g. Plan B), medication & vaccines (HPV vaccine, treatment for yeast infections, UTIs, STDs, etc.), menstruation (e.g. pads, tampons, Divacup, etc), gynecological exams, STD tests, pregnancy, abortion, advocacy, counseling, and a list of resources. These topics are divided into three subsections: laws & social stigmas, what to get & where to get it, and costs.
Now, if you think this format sucks, or if you have suggested improvements, let me know! This is a baby-new project, and I’m counting on the insights of the People of the Internet.
Anyway, the big beautiful goal of Gynopedia is information — and lots of it. Right now, Gynopedia has very little information, but I’m convinced that nearly everyone has something to share. In other words, please contribute! Let us know which pharmacies and clinics worked out for you (or any to avoid). Let us know which gynecologists were especially awesome. Let us know how to ask for yeast infection medication in Hungarian, or UTI treatment in Spanish. Let us know all the good stuff, please!
Overall, I’m asking for help in three primary ways: 1) editing/contributing, 2) moderation and 3) spreading the word. While nobody will be paid, I won’t either; this website is a labor of love. So, if you have a few free moments, I would be honored if you could read about how you (or a friend/partner/whatever!), can help below:
The bread and butter of Gynopedia will be information. So, if you have ANY information to share, it will be immeasurably appreciated. Here’s how it will work: First, if you want to contribute, you’ll need to create an account, which takes like one minute. Then, once you’re logged in, search for a location. Let’s say you live in Melbourne and you see that Melbourne doesn’t have a page yet. No problem! You can create the Melbourne page yourself (or ask me to do it for you, which I really don’t mind… contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help of any kind).
Then, when you go into the ‘Edit’ view, paste in the template (provided at the bottom of this blog entry), which is the basic format of all the topics and subtopics, and you’re good to go. You can then add in tons of information related to the topics — or, if you seriously know just one fact, you can add in that one fact too. Whatever you can contribute, big or small, is fabulous and appreciated. For more information on contributing, please check out Gynopedia Guidelines.
Also, if you would like to conduct research for a page, we’ve created a list of Research Resources. This list is by no means comprehensive. But we invite all users to contribute to the list, and we hope it may help some people.
There will be tons of information that’s outdated, inaccurate or awkwardly phrased on Gynopedia. Worse, there may be spammers or trolls. I wish that wasn’t the case — but I’m being real, and I know it will happen. So, we’ll need some moderators. If you feel like getting your hands (digitally) dirty and being a fact-checker and/or editor, as well as an occasional gatekeeper of real vs. spammy/troll info, then please let me know. Right now, this is a one-woman show — which is, um, terrifying. I would absolutely love some help, and there’s no expectation surrounding how much effort you put forth. Any help, big or small, is amazing. So, let me know if you’re down to help.
Note: We’ll need some tech people to help on the more technical side, as well. Please get in touch with me if you have some ideas/thoughts regarding tech!
Spreading the Word
Honestly, nobody knows about Gynopedia yet, and that’s okay. Gotta start somewhere, right? But I do know that, if this site will be at all useful or relevant to users, I need to get the word out. That’s the only way that people will begin to read, contribute, edit, moderate and enjoy this potential wealth of information. So, if you can help spread the word, whether it’s sharing this post on social media or even just telling some friends, that would be so incredibly helpful, and I thank you.
So, to wrap things up, here’s what I’m trying to say: We talk about women’s bodies all the time. And yet we provide so little autonomy, despite the endless scrutiny. I’m no health expert or web entrepreneur. And I probably don’t even know what I am doing here. But I’m someone who has been uninsured, in need of medication/health care, and lost in cities many times. And that’s just me. There are millions of women who have it much worse — cut off from information and progressive health care, isolated from so many resources. So, that’s it. I got fed up with the state of things, so now I feel crazy passionate about this new ‘lil website.
So, if you feel like contributing, I’ll be so honored and grateful. If you feel like helping me with moderation or technical stuff, well, um, YES, I need it! And, if you don’t know how to help, I would love if this article could be shared. Help spread the word. Let people know. Whatever you think or feel about this project, I want to hear from you. And I promise: I will work super hard to make the site usable and accessible, publicized and free. It’s about time something like this came around.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart — and I can’t wait to learn from all of you!
Template for New Gynopedia Pages
Note: Here’s what you copy and paste into new Gynopedia pages to set up the page structure (see below). It’s written in wiki markup, which is sorta like HTML for Wiki pages. In other words, the triple quotation marks (”’) represent bold text while the equal signs (=) represent headers (== on each side) and subheaders (=== on each side). So, just copy and paste it into the page.. and you should be good to go. See below:
'''OVERVIEW''' ==Contraception (Birth Control)== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs)== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ====Testing Facilities==== ====Support==== ===Costs=== ==Medications & Vaccines== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Menstruation== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Gynecological Exams== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Pregnancy== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Abortion== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==Advocacy & Counseling== ===Laws & Social Stigmas=== ===What to Get & Where to Get It=== ===Costs=== ==List of Additional Resources== ==References== <references />