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Women, click here for good health

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  • Women's health experts share their top Web sites for health and medical info
  • Make sure you know the source; watch for promotional, advertising sites
  • Government sites are among the doctors' top recommendations
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By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Correspondent
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Empowered Patient, a regular feature from CNN Medical News correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Dr. Anne Nedrow gets the e-mails every day -- e-mails from women patients linking to Web sites of dubious quality.

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Patients sometimes have a hard time discerning reliable from unreliable information on the Internet.

One patient wrote Nedrow enthusiastically about an herb to treat low libido. Nedrow, medical director of Women's Primary Care and Integrative Medicine at the Oregon Health Sciences University, clicked on the link, and saw that it was an advertisement for the herb, and there was no science proving that the herb actually worked.

Another e-mail contained a link to a site for a nutritional drink. Again, Nedrow wrote back pointing out that the Web site actually belonged to the company that made the drink, hardly an objective source.

Nedrow's conclusion: Patients sometimes have a hard time discerning objective from subjective, and reliable from unreliable information on the Internet. So we asked her, and three other women's health experts, for their favorite sites on women's health.

Gynecological health

Dr. Christiane Northrup, an obstetrician-gynecologist and author of three books on women's health, says when it comes to infertility, she recommends The Fertile Soul and Fertile Heart, which focus on complementary and alternative therapies.

Also, on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's page on assisted reproductive technology, you can look up success rates for fertility clinics nationwide.

For questions about menstrual issues, Northrup recommends The Red Web Foundation, a nonprofit organization the fosters positive views of girls' and women's bodies and menstrual cycles. Video Watch Elizabeth discuss some of the best sites »

Heart disease

The word is out: Heart disease isn't a man's issue. Women have heart attacks, too, and often the signs are very different from those men see. Nedrow recommends the National Institute of Health's section on women and heart health. There's also Heart Healthy Women, sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation in collaboration with WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and the Office on Women's Health of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nedrow also recommends Reynolds Risk Score, a site specially designed for women to calculate their risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. The American Heart Association also has a risk calculator for women.

Breast cancer

Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, past president of the American Cancer Society and herself a breast cancer survivor, recommends the Susan G. Komen for the Cure site as well as the site for the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. Dr. Pamela Peeke, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, also recommends the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Web site.

Osteoporosis

Nedrow says the National Osteoporosis Foundation's site is a good source of information. At FRAX, you can calculate your risk of getting osteoporosis using a tool developed by the World Health Organization.

General women's health

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health, says her favorite women's health Web sites are from the government: the women's health sections of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration. To see what research is going on in women's health, visit the Office on Research on Women's Health.

Here are a few more good sites to turn to for information on women's health:

Mayo Clinic Women's Health Center

National Library of Medicine/MedlinePlus (click here for another NLM site)

New York Online Access to Health

Our Bodies Ourselves

The National Women's Health Information Center of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Peeke Peformance: Dr. Pamela Peeke's Web site

Christiane Northrup, M.D.: Dr. Christiane Northrup's Web site

CNN Medical News Senior Producer Jennifer Pifer contributed to this report.

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