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(Monday, July 28, 2014)
Lots of infertile women spend hours on the Internet, hunting for information and looking for treatment options and the best possible doctor. This is especially true when they have failed an IVF cycle and are trying to find what they can do differently the next time, in order to improve their chances of success.
Infertile women need lots of emotional support, which is why they often glued to the PC, reading posts on bulletin boards; searching for nuggets of information on blogs; and posting information about their problem and looking for solutions from other infertile women.
This is because husbands are quite poor at providing emotional support – and doctors are even worse. An online community, which can provide support; and which is anonymous and instantly available can be so comforting for them. It gives them a chance to network with other women, who have been there, done. These expert patients can provide wise counsel, which is not contaminated by commercial influences, which means that it’s trustworthy.
A lot of husbands get irritated by the amount of time which they wife spends on the Internet. They feel that the Internet has become an obsession with them, and believe that it adds to their stress levels. Because they spend so much time and energy trying to find out stuff, they feel this time is wasted. Their belief is that the doctor is the expert, and they should trust him. They are worried that a little knowledge can be dangerous, and that their wife has become an infertility net junkie.
Many women also get frustrated, because so much of the online information is untrustworthy. Viewpoints and opinions on many websites are exactly the diametrical opposite of what other sites claim – and women get confused because they don't know which sites to trust. They are not sure what their next action step should be, and often get paralyzed into inaction.
When they ask their doctor for help, he often gets irritated by “internet-positive” patients who bring pages and pages of Internet printouts to them. They will often be dismissive of these websites, and will say – “Don’t waste your time hunting for information on the Internet. I am your doctor and I will provide you with the right solutions. You just need to trust me!
I don't think this is a very constructive approach. We need to acknowledge that infertile women are hungry for reliable information, and the Internet is a great source of potentially valuable information. However, patients need to be taught how to use the net intelligently, so that they can then access reliable sites, rather than waste time on dodgy commercial sites, which are out to peddle their wares and cheat patients of their hard earned money by making false promises and ridiculous claims (for example, the Clear Passage Therapy website).
Banning infertile women from going online will just result in throwing out the baby with the bath water! Doctors need to help their patients identify reliable websites, so that they can use Information Therapy to maximize their chances of getting pregnant.