Dr Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su headshot GennevAuthored by Gennev Chief Medical Officer, ob/gyn Dr. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Jennifer Gunter speak, and talking with her personally. 

Dr. Gunter was in Seattle as part of her book tour for The Vagina Bible: the vulva and vagina— separating the myth from the medicine (which I HIGHLY recommend everyone buy and read, BTW). 

She is nationally known for a few key things: she is a social media influencer, who, as she puts it, “wields the lasso of truth.” She is sometimes called “twitter’s gynecologist,” and she has a show on CBC Gem network in Canada. 

Most folks know her, however, as the bane of Gwyneth Paltrow’s existence. She has gone head-to-head with Paltrow’s Goop to expose the lies and misstatements on topics that affect women, women’s health, and the vagina particularly. 

As part of her talk, she spoke about what she terms “Internet Hygiene” — how physicians and consumers use the Internet to find information about health issues and care. And how we often don’t use best practices to be sure our information is coming from truly credible and knowledgeable sources.

Dr. Gunter believes it’s the responsibility of health care professionals to help people understand all the content available. I agree.

Our content commitment at Gennev

We have a very large, rich library of articles, videos, podcasts, and webinars that we hope you’ll dive into whenever you’re needing more information about what’s happening in your body. We also have health care professionals monitoring our community forums, answering questions.

Of course, Gennev is also a company that sells products — and because we have a vested interest in the products you buy (or don’t!) from us, good Internet Hygiene says you should be extra critical when using us for your own information regarding the products we sell.

Please do. We absolutely welcome the extra scrutiny. We at Gennev have been working to flood the menopause space with medically accurate and evidence-based information for women (and hopefully drown out the dangerous nonsense). Our content strives to look at all topics (western medicine and alternative therapies) with a critical eye, while reaching out to experts in their fields. All our content is evidence-based, informed and vetted by qualified physicians and experts.

Practicing Internet Hygiene at home

So, what can you do to practice Internet Hygiene when you are searching the web? Well, it can be very hard to tell fact from fiction without degrees in epidemiology and biostatistics. In fact, even with that education it can be hard (I know – I have both, and I still get confused from time to time)! 

In the interest of keeping you safe online, I have pulled together a few good tips for how to judge the information you are getting from the Internet:

  • Nothing cures everything: if it promises younger skin, better hair, no fatigue, no hot flashes, better sex drive, and weight loss, be skeptical! These things are mediated through different pathways in our bodies. (Besides if that miracle drug/herb were really out there we’d all be on it!)
  • Nothing has “no side effects or risks.” This one is especially important, as many “herbals” are listed as “natural,” hoping you’ll assume they are therefore perfectly safe. Anything that truly solves all the above menopause symptoms probably has some estrogenic effect and therefore could pose a risk. If you think about it, arsenic is natural….
  • Sellers can have great information, but they do have a vested interest in whether or not you buy it. So get a “second opinion” from a trusted site, or check that the information on the seller’s site is grounded in real science from credible sources. 
  • The “expert” should actually be an expert. There are many MDs, NDs, ARNPs and the like who will sell anything for money. The best example is: why would you take information on hormones from a neurosurgeon? I don’t give online neurosurgery advice representing myself as an expert. Try to see what their credentials AND training are. What else do they sell, and is it related or all over the place? Do they have a vested interest in you buying?
  • Avoid anything that tells you there is a “conspiracy” to discount, discredit, or suppress information about it. This generally means that there is science that discredits it, and they want to sell it anyway.
  • Do not fall for the “big pharma just wants to hurt you, take your money” etc. Does pharma want money, hell yes! So do people who sell herbs and supplements. Everyone wants your money! At least pharma is regulated heavily by the FDA. Government officials can go to any pharmaceutical plant at any time (and they do), pull product off the line, and test it. This is how the recent problems with ranitidine/zantac were discovered. Herbs, supplements, essential oils, etc. are completely unregulated, so any verification is voluntary. 

Yes, you can absolutely find great data and safe products online. Unfortunately, you can also find a lot that is, at best, ineffective and at worst, unsafe. Having a critical eye and also trusting your gut when something simply sounds too good to be true can go a long way towards keeping you safe.


And if you ever have any doubt about a menopause product, we suggest you take it to our community forums, where genuine health care professionals and health coaches can help you sort through the claim – for free.