Wednesday, December 28, 2005

More from Yahoo! Answers

I had another look at Yahoo! Answers today, as I am interested in what types of women's health questions are being asked of strangers on the web. Among the notable questions:
  • I have been bleeding continuously since I gave birth in January. What could be the cause of this?
  • What does it mean when a woman has a white creamy gel substance in her vagina? - one of the (wrong) answers: It's just white blood coming out. And don't worry it's just normal for a female to experience these.
  • Can you get pregnant from oral sex? - users correctly answered no, and pointed out the risk of STDs
  • I recently had a tubal ligation and D & C they had to do laparotomy what is the recovery time? - what the patient could expect should have been explained before the procedures were done
  • I had my tubes tied in Jan of 1999 and still have problems with pain is this normal so day i cant hardly move?
  • What are tampons? - I added an answer to this one, linking to a site that explains how they're used and TSS risks

    And the most disturbing:
    what are the symptoms of lossing my virginity? i was drunk and i dont know what happened, when i asked the guy he told me thathe did it to me but i want to know my self. so is ther any symptoms for that? many thanks

    I remain disturbed that these individuals haven't asked their healthcare providers about these issues, particularly in cases of prolonged bleeding or pain. It's not clear whether a lack of information, lack of access to healthcare, embarrassment, or some other factor is responsible. Something strikes me as seriously wrong when a girl wants to know "symptoms" of losing her virginity because she may have been sexually assaulted while drunk. These women clearly have an information need that is not being filled through traditional, expert channels. If I were experiencing long-term pain or bleeding, I would make an appointment or call my provider right away, and I'm interested in why others would not. So, to my readers, are there questions you won't ask your healthcare provider? If so, why? If you're a healthcare provider or librarian, what's your take on this information disconnect? To the health librarians - are you willing to begin answering some of these questions? Do you feel any professional responsibility to stamp out health misinformation and improve the links between individuals and the information they need, outside of your institution? Just curious.

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    MeSH Tags: Health Promotion AND Internet; Internet/utilization
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