If you’re like me, and most every woman I know, you race to Google every ache, pain or unusual physical symptom that pops up.
BIG BIG MISTAKE!
The best doctors across the country all will caution that you should stay away from the internet when it comes to diagnosing yourself. A perfect example of this: When I developed a lump in my groin a handful of years ago, I was certain I had lymphoma after Googling “lump in groin,” and would be dead within a few years, if not a few months. I was preparing the announcement to my children.
It turned out to be a benign cyst.
As wonderful as the internet is, it’s fraught with inaccurate, downright dangerous medical content, created by terrible writers, and downright horrible journalists and researchers. One doctor, Mary Jane Minkin, has decided to take the matter into her own hands when it comes to menopause education and recently launched a website, brilliantly called www.madameovary.com. (A pun on Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert , one of my favorite books.)
I met Dr. Minkin about four years ago, when a leading pharmaceutical company invited me to participate in its campaign about vaginal atrophy.
As Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine, and one of the country’s leading experts on women’s health and wellness, Dr. Minkin is a consultant to the company, as she is to many other brands that target perimenopausal and menopausal women.
Sadly, an astounding 80 percent of OBGYN residencies in the United States and Canada offer no formal menopause education, according to a study by Dr. Wen Shen of Johns Hopkins, which was published in the last couple of years. This vast majority of OBGYN’s do not understand exactly what happens to our bodies, from the moment we enter perimenopause (when our estrogen begins to diminish), through menopause, until we take our last breath. We should expect our doctors to be completely devoted to helping us through these years, which can be the most physically and emotionally challenging in a woman’s life. They shouldn’t just want to relieve us of hot flashes and decreased libido, which come with decreasing estrogen levels. They should want to help us live our best lives possible, by preventing illnesses including heart disease, osteoporosis, and dementia, which also can come with lack of estrogen. Dr. Minkin is one of these doctors. Five minutes after I met her, I knew I wanted her to be my doctor.
“Women really want to understand the changes that our bodies, indeed our lives undergo as we mature through our reproductive and post-reproductive years,” she writes on her new website. “To my sensibilities, a good OB/GYN should be a woman’s health physician, rather than exclusively a reproductive specialist. Female health encompasses all of our body’s organ systems, and we need an integrative appreciation of how these systems interconnect and evolve.”
Dr. Minkin developed www.madameovary.com with “the aim to educate both women and physicians learning how to care for them.”
Her madameovary videos are a main focus of the site. These medium-length discussions (less than 20 minutes) focus on a single topic. Menopause and cancer are the focus of the first four videos, and Dr. Minkin will soon add new videos covering other women’s health issues. Once you start listening, you see why I love her. Her passion, her humor and her intelligence are priceless.
You’ll also have the opportunity to read “companion content,” in the form of excerpts from Dr. Minkin’s published guides, pdf copies of a few of her academic papers, a list of important recent references on the subject matter. And, there’s her blog, co-written and researched with her MIT-educated mathematician husband, with whom she’s had 30 years of “daily discussions on the evolution of medicine and health care in our society,” she writes.
Since you all can’t call on Dr. Minkin as your our doctor, I invite you to get on over to www.madameovary.com to watch her videos and read her articles. Even if you adore your doctor, I can absolutely assure you that you will discover a great deal of valuable information about the most important subject impacting your life: