We all know to go to Zappos for shoes or Amazon for, well, anything nowadays, but where do you turn when you get diagnosed with a heart condition, or you're wondering whether your symptoms add up to irritable bowel syndrome, or you want to do a little digging on the drug your doctor prescribed? Sure, you can google yourself silly, but with so much contradictory—and in some cases flat-out wrong—information on the Web, how do you make sure the advice you collect is reliable?
"When patients ask me about Web resources, I'm always nervous because there's a lot of incorrect information out there, or it's industry sponsored," cautions Alice Domar, PhD, founder of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, which specializes in integrative medicine. And indeed, studies funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others have found that information on health websites is often inaccurate or incomplete.
The good news is that there is valuable information if you know where to look; even the professionals troll the Internet to learn about cutting-edge studies or unorthodox treatments. "The Web is wonderful for finding news that's not so mainstream," says Christiane Northrup, MD, the ob-gyn who wrote Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.
"Alternative viewpoints can be just as useful in treating illness, only we don't hear about them as often."
Northrup told us she recently used the Web to research the latest science on vitamin D and fish oil, which inspired us to reach out to other prominent health professionals for their picks for the best women's health websites.
Here's what we found:
Mehmet Oz, MD, host of the Dr. Oz Show
and coauthor of the best-selling You: The Owner's Manual series
"For one-stop women's health advice, I recommend HealthyWomen.org
. Experts are available to answer questions, and you can read about women with similar concerns. It's a great place to start researching health issues; they offer a bunch of useful fact sheets on topics like diabetes and aging that you can download."
Prescription meds and supplements
Kristen Binaso, a pharmacist and spokesperson for the American Pharmacists Association
The most reliable information on prescription drugs is at the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus site [nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus
]. You'll find drug interactions, the latest black box warnings about serious adverse effects, and extensive information on supplements, including efficacy."
The best websites for heart health, mental health, infertility and disease risk