Gynopedia: the much-needed online sexual health resource

A new website has been launched, providing men and women around the world with information about sexual health resources. Though in its infancy, the site already has information on 77 countries worldwide and is steadily growing.

How it works

Gynopedia, which looks and functions similarly to Wikipedia, gives its readers non-biased, non-judgemental information on contraception and emergency contraception, pregnancy, abortions, gynaecologists, sexually transmitted infections and menstrual products, relevant to whichever city they are in or travelling to. Much like Wikipedia, the site allows anyone to contribute, functions in a ‘word-of-mouth’ style, and is completely non-profit. It is the perfect tool for anyone travelling around the world in need of sexual health resources.

Empowerment and equality

Gynopedia was created by Lani Fried when she was preparing to travel through Asia and realised that she couldn’t find any information about contraception in the countries she planned to visit. Her aim with Gynopedia is not only to provide invaluable information on a vital subject to people travelling all around the world, it is also to give women a platform in which to have a voice and be involved. As Fried stated: “When women share wisdom and resources, we empower one another to fight for accessibility, affordability and choice.”

This is especially important for her following the election of Donald Trump. From San Francisco, Fried saw how the reintroduction of the Mexico City Policy, as well as the Republicans’ plan to defund Planned Parenthood, will have a detrimental impact on women’s sexual rights. She saw it as essential that a platform like this exists to provide free information to people of all genders, sexes and sexual orientations around the world. As Fried put it: “These topics impact all of our lives.The mission of Gynopedia is to provide information, and the power of information transcends gender.” It even gives advice about LGBT+ friendly clinics so that everyone can feel comfortable and safe getting the treatment they deserve. 

Overcoming challenges

Dealing with medical issues in a foreign country can be an incredibly stressful and time-consuming process. Add to that the social stigmas attached to sexual and reproductive health, and you often find that searching for information, even for local women, can be very difficult and can leave them feeling powerless. The goal of Gynopedia is to highlight the relevant stigmas to readers so that they understand how to get around them.

The website also helps to overcome language barriers with key phrases for those who don’t speak the language. So if you were in Hanoi and needed to know the Vietnamese word for birth control, a quick search on Gynopedia will tell you (it’s thuốc tránh thai by the way, pronounced ‘thwork chanh tide’). So far the main text of the site is in English alone, but as the website grows and more and more people contribute to the content, this should change.  

Swift progress

Though still relatively new, the website has already attracted a lot of attention. Where her own knowledge was lacking, Fried contacted local women’s organisations and NGOs focused on sexual and reproductive healthcare to get more information. Among those who replied, the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) was one of them. Not only have they given her plenty of information, they are also talking about integrating the website into their own social media platforms. Fried is aware that as the site becomes more visible, it could face backlash from governments and organisations, and is therefore preparing ways to handle this. However, with hundreds of people visiting Gynopedia every day, her main concern is ensuring that the resources remain up-to-date and of the highest possible quality.

Image: Pexels

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