Dr. Jennifer Lincoln wants to talk about “down there.” The board-certified generalist obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) is passionate about educating and empowering girls, women, and those assigned female at birth, to understand their bodies and advocate for themselves.
She’s breaking down previously taboo topics about women’s reproductive health, including vaginal health, sex with a partner, masturbation, birth control, and more in her book, “Let’s Talk About Down There: An OB-GYN Answers All Your Burning Questions…without Making You Feel Embarrassed for Asking.”
She’s also talking about the hot topics online. A social media influencer on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, Dr. Lincoln has nearly 3 million followers (women and men) relying on her for tips and accurate information about women’s health.
While she didn’t set out to be a social media star, she wants to dispel misinformation she sees on the Internet.
“I figured why not try to create some content that’s actually helpful and also helps to break down the barriers of ‘doctors are scary people you can’t talk to,’” she says. “I pull no punches. We’re normal people. We don’t have all the answers, and I want them to feel like when they’re on my account, they’re learning from somebody that they would also potentially want to hang out with. It doesn’t feel scary.”
The new normal
When she first started posting to Instagram, Dr. Lincoln made her first post and then stopped for a month. She was nervous, but she slowly posted more content. Then, fellow doctor friends encouraged her to get on TikTok to share women’s health information with young women, the app’s target demographic and a group that needs to know about women’s reproductive health.
She soon realized social media was the best place to share her message.
“Americans spend 145 minutes a day on social media, which is insane, and that number keeps going up by a few minutes every few months,” she says. “You have to be where they are because we only spend 15 minutes with them in the [exam] room.”
She herself is learning from the messages she receives in her DMs. “I think it’s made me a better doctor because I realized these are the things that people are thinking, but they’re too afraid to say,” says Dr. Lincoln.
The most popular question she gets asked is “what’s normal?” For example, people want to know if vaginal discharge is normal or if a certain side effect from birth control is normal. They also ask her to verify the accuracy of something their doctor said.
Dr. Lincoln receives lots of positive feedback from appreciative women (and men), but she gets plenty of criticism too, especially when she’s debunking misinformation about harsh hygiene products or the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. She also gets flack when she uses inclusive language like, “a person with a period,” an inclusive term which welcomes transgender and non-binary people with vaginas.
She encourages patients to advocate for themselves and their care, including finding a new provider if that medical professional isn’t meeting their needs.
“I think it’s so important in saying, ‘I demand that you take me seriously,’ because so often our pain is ignored when it comes to things like childbirth, birth control, and abortion care.”
Up next, Dr. Lincoln, who’s based in Portland, Oregon with her pediatrician husband and their two sons, is working on another book and preparing to start a podcast. She plans to continue sharing important health information for women.
“Education is empowerment because once you understand how your body works, nobody can take that from you.”