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Why I Created Gynopedia

I’m beyond excited to announce the launch of GYNOPEDIA -- an online resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s healthcare. 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 buy tampons in Seoul, or find an LGBTQ-friendly gynecologist in Bangkok, or you need 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 comprehensive STI 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 an 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 New York City 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 (birth control), emergency contraception (the morning after pill), sexually-transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), medications (for things like yeast infections, UTIs, etc), menstruation (e.g. pads, tampons, mooncup, etc), gynecological exams, 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. So, users can simply click on a category or subcategory, and then begin accessing information.

Now, if you think this template 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! So, let us know which generic birth control pills didn't work for you. Let us know which gynecologist was 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:

How to Contribute

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 gynopediawiki@gmail.com for help of any kind).

Image provided by Creative Commons.
Here's how you create a shiny, new page on Gynopedia.

Then, when you go into the ‘Edit’ view, paste in the template (provided in the Gynopedia Guidelines), 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.

Check out this video that shows how you can contribute content.

How to Moderate

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, and 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

Right now, very few people know 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.

Wrapping Things Up

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!