Using the Internet for Infertility Information – a good or bad thing?

The internet is a hugely popular way for people to find out information. We are very quick to ‘Google’ for answers, especially now that so many people have smart phones and instant access to thousands of answers to one question.

Using the internet can be a good thing because of the sheer volume of information at our fingertips. Sadly, that can also be a bad thing as there are many articles that have not been researched properly and people may read them and believe what they read.

Be cautious

Understanding your infertility, the diagnosis and the innumerable options for treatment can have you confused in a very short space of time. So how do you know what to believe and which information to discard?

Look for accreditation

Take some time to see if the website that you are reading (or whoever hosts that website) is accredited by a qualified organization.

Accreditation simply means that the information is competent, has authority or credibility. There are many non-profit and non-political organizations that provide such accreditation (or credentials) to hospitals and health care facilities in the United States.

Five of the many accreditation bodies

All of these accreditation bodies are trustworthy. There are many more but these are the main five.

How do I know if information is accredited?

If a website has accreditation, it will be proud to display it and that should give you confidence in the information that you are receiving. The accreditation should be prominently displayed on the site or you could check the ‘About’ section. The golden rule is that if you cannot find the accreditation easily, the chances are that they are not accredited.

Understanding more about website accreditations will make the time that you spend surfing the net much more productive and helpful.

Online Forums

Forums do have their place as they can be a great place of shared resources and information. There are also newsgroups and message boards. If you visit any of these regularly for help, information and support, it’s worth keeping the following questions in mind:

  • Is the person that I’m talking to / communicating with via message boards in the same situation as me? For example, are they the same age, do they have the same diagnosis and is their partner’s fertility the same as my partners?
  • Is this information coming from a ‘successful’ patient or an ‘unsuccessful’ one?
  • Does the person that I’m communicating with have valid references for their information?
  • Is the person that I’m communicating with trying to push something because they are a sponsor or sales person for that?
  • Does the information that I’m reading have a date? How current is it? If it doesn’t have a date it’s best ignored.
  • Are other sites with related topics listed? If not, you’re only looking at one view of an issue. Search for a read more for balanced information.

Be informed – not confused and upset

Take notes while you are searching for information. It’s a good idea to copy and paste the URL of the website onto each relevant note so that you know where you found it, if you need to come back later and check it out again.

If you find some information which you think may be helpful or that you’re not sure about, print off your notes and take them to your next appointment. Your fertility doctor will be only too happy to make sure that you have the right information.

If you take all of the suggested precautions, then you may find that the internet is extremely helpful.

NOTE: Please bear in mind that no information on the Internet is a substitute for medical advice from your own doctor.

References:

http://familybuilding.resolve.org/site/DocServer/Using_The_Internet_For_Infertililty_Information.pdf?docID=548

http://www.resolve.org/support/managing-infertility-online/why-website-accreditations-are-important-for-infertility-patients.html

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Posted in: Infertility Treatment

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