A large number of infertile women spend hours on the Internet; they scour the Web for information and look for various treatment options & the best doctors too. 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 a lot of emotional support, which is why they are often glued to their PC, reading posts on bulletin boards, looking for nuggets of information on blogs, posting information about their problem & looking for answers from other infertile women. This occurs because their better halves are unable to provide them the emotional support they need and doctors do an even worse job of it. Therefore it becomes natural for them to look for support outside the realm of their immediate surroundings.
Online Communities Provide Support
The anonymity and instant access they receive from an online community makes this a safe and trusted resource; and their emotionally starved minds find a great amount of comfort in this online space. They are able to easily connect with other women who have gone through it all. These expert patients become a credible source of information. What’s even more important is these women are not tainted by any commercial influences, and this adds the flavor of trustworthiness to the advice they readily give.
A large majority of husbands tend to get irked by the amount of time that their wives spend on the Internet. They feel that it is an obsession or an addiction and strongly believe that it increases their wives’ stress levels and that it is a thorough waste of time. Most men also believe that since the doctors are the experts, they should be getting advice and counseling from him. Their fear is that some of the information available on the internet may be half-baked so to speak; and that it would do more harm than good.
Snowed Down with Information
A number of women also do get frustrated because they realize that a lot of the information that is available online is not trustworthy. They find starkly contrasting content on various “credible” sites and this causes a lot of confusion in the minds of infertile women who are just trying to glean all the information they can. They are not sure which sites are trustworthy, what action they should take etc. In most cases, this avalanche of information simply snows them down completely.
If they approach their doctor with questions about something they have read on the Internet, he gets annoyed too and feels that these “internet worms” are a nuisance, both for him as well as to themselves. His rebuttal would generally be “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”
In my opinion, this is not a constructive approach at all. We must 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. These are set up with the sole purpose of promoting their services & and their only objective is to cheat patients with their false promises and ridiculous claims (e.g: the Clear Passage Therapy website).
Deterring infertile women from surfing the Net is not a good idea - why throw 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.
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