New online resource gives female travelers access to vital reproductive health care
Getting comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care as a woman is hard. Getting care while jet setting, however, is damn near impossible.
But a silly-named site is looking to change that for female travelers, allowing globetrotters to access need-to-know health information in an easy-to-read wiki.
t also includes trusted regional organizations working to promote reproductive rights and curb sexual violence.
Additionally, the wiki details regional stigma around each topic, and offers an average cost of service. Notably, Gynopedia includes information tailored to the LGBTQ community in many of their guidances — a rarity in conversations around reproductive and sexual health.
“Why did I create Gynopedia?” creator Lani Fried wrote on the site. “Honestly, because I couldn’t find anything like it.”
Modeled after Wikipedia’s user-friendly style, Gynopedia currently houses extensive information for 67 cities throughout North America, Africa, Asia and South America.
Fried, who is a San Francisco native, told Broadly she was inspired to create the site in 2016 after she realized how “clueless” she was when it came to accessing sexual health care for her upcoming trip to Asia.
But Fried said difficulty accessing care had been an issue even prior to her 2016 trip. Just moving state-to-state within the U.S., she said, required a lot of time and dedication to find quality care.
“I lived in Istanbul for a while a few years back, and I remembered how challenging it was to get a proper STD test there,” Fried told Broadly. “And not just in Turkey: I have moved to and from a lot of different American cities, and have always had to do way too much research to gain information on what is basic but essential stuff.”
As a frequent traveler, Fried wanted to create a resource that took the guesswork and apprehension out of crucial care for female travelers. But building the database was a one-woman show for a while, with Fried compiling all the information based on her own travels and knowledge.
To help broaden her scope, Fried eventually reached out to national nonprofits and organizations dedicated to sexual and reproductive health to help inform entries.
“When I started it, I was driven by the belief that women and all people — no matter their genders — should be able to make decisions about their own bodies,” Fried said. “Whether they choose to become parents or have an abortion, to use birth control or not, the choice is theirs to make. Women’s health decisions shouldn’t be a political issue.”
Like other Wikipedia-styled sites, Gynopedia allows any user to edit or add information. Though this feature allows the site to cover more global locations, the crowdsourcing nature of the site also has the potential to negatively impact the quality and reputability of the site’s information.
To help set ground rules on editing, Fried created a guidelines page to outline expectations. But while Fried’s top priority is ensuring the site is trustworthy, she admitted Gynopedia — which she calls a “baby-new project” — can’t be her main focus yet.
“The project isn’t my full-time occupation, but I really, really care about it,” she said. “My main goal now is to recruit more contributors so that we can grow into a full-on Wiki and always be current.”
In the meantime, the site is a start to solving a long overlooked issue — and to addressing stigma around sex and sexuality for traveling women.
“I’m no health expert or web entrepreneur. And I probably don’t even know what I am doing here,” Fried wrote on the site. “But I’m someone who has been uninsured, in need of 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,” she continued. “I got fed up with the state of things, so now I feel crazy passionate about this new ‘lil website.”