OB-GYNs use Reddit to offer advice to women without access to reproductive healthcare

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In areas of the U.S. where affordable, comprehensive reproductive healthcare is difficult to find, many confused and anxious patients turn to the internet for answers — and physicians are providing them.

Much of this discussion occurs on Reddit, BuzzFeed News reports, where many OB-GYNs act as either official or unofficial moderators of discussion threads about women's health, battling the spread of misinformation and directing users to proper treatments.

"It's all very anecdotal. … I see a lot of people saying, 'Don't have that surgery — my aunt had all these complications,' on surgeries with complication rates of, like, 1 percent," Tania Aftandilians, MD, an OB-GYN at Colton, Calif.-based Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, told BuzzFeed.

Dr. Aftandilians noted that while correcting this misinformation takes quite a bit of time and effort, she finds it worthwhile to help patients lacking health services and education.

Though all medical professionals who spoke to BuzzFeed about the phenomenon emphasized that they do not offer diagnoses and typically end up directing Reddit posters to make an official appointment with an OB-GYN, they do offer their opinions and advice, much needed in states where legislation has banned or limited certain reproductive care, in rural areas far from well-equipped women's health clinics or for women who feel their symptoms are not being taken seriously by their clinicians.

"If someone has a quick question about their health, it might take me a few minutes to answer, but it could save them hours of anxiety," said one gynecology resident, who described spending much of his downtime offering advice on irregular bleeding, pregnancy hormones and other medical issues on the social media platform.

Read more here.

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