By Staness Jonekos
Seventy two percent of women have not received any treatment for menopausal symptoms, according to a recent study conducted by Lake Research Partners.
Of those polled, 45 percent said they thought current available information was confusing and 41 percent weren’t sure what to trust. No wonder! There are over ten million menopause websites, many with misinformation about menopause, treatment options, tests, and strategies. How do we find reliable menopause information online so we can have a productive conversation with our healthcare provider? Here are some pointers to help you sidestep unreliable sites:
If a website is selling a product or program that is promoted in the content, the material may be biased.
On any website, it is wise to read the “About Us” link so you know who is providing the information.
Always keep in mind when reading a blog or chatting in a community that the content is based on personal opinions and experiences.
Regarding that last tip, remember that what works for one woman may not work for another. According to a report from PEW, 41 percent of web surfers feel supported when they read about somebody else’s health experiences or medical issues online. I, too, am able to gain perspective from reading blogs and personal opinions, but I know that menopause is different for every woman. The "change" is not “one size fits all” and there is no simple recipe to manage menopause. Not only are hormones fluctuating and mood swings occurring, each of us needs to respond to menopausal issues based on personal and family history and personal comfort level.
Fortunately, however, many web sites do offer information that is credible and reliable. There unbiased sites from scientific organizations, commercial sites with medically reviewed content, hospital sites, and online health news, blogs. Here is my list of top menopause sites:
My go-to site for the latest unbiased scientific information is Menopause.org provided by the North American Menopause Society, a non-profit organization.
Healthline.com has launched a “Menopause Center” that is reviewed by experts and includes popular menopause bloggers as well. This site combines science with personal stories so the information is digestible and easy to find. Healthline has an advanced search technology that refers the reader to scientific material, making it a one-stop informational resource
HealthyWomen.org, a nonprofit organization, has a long history of providing unbiased and accurate health information. The website contains health information that is original and reviewed by medical experts. The content is reflective of the advances in evidence-based health research. The site also includes personal stories and topnotch bloggers.
The Endocrine Society and The Hormone Health Network created a “Menopause Map,” an interactive tool. Menopause Map results can be used as a “springboard” for a conversation with your doctor. Users can print out their results and share them with their health care providers.
Other good sites include:
National Institutes of Health
The National Library of Medicine
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Hospital web sites are also reliable resources for menopause information. According to a recent U.S. News report, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic are in the top five ranked.
As the North American Menopause Society puts it: “An informed decision about menopause-related symptom relief also includes knowledge of the risks and benefits of other prescription therapies, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches, and lifestyle strategies, as well as awareness of the option to do nothing at all and let the symptoms take their natural course—which for most women means resolution over time.”
We are all different. The Internet is a rich resource for menopause inquiries. Be diligent in qualifying your material so you can take control of your health during menopause and work closely with your healthcare provider.
Staness Jonekos, the author of "The Menopause Makeover," is a speaker and advocate for women's health. For more information, visit www.MenopauseMakeover.com. You can also follow her on www.twitter.com/staness.