The Internet and Infertility

When you’re trying to conceive the internet can be your best friend or you worst enemy. The problem is, fertility issues are so complex, that even the medics don’t always have the answers. Having a ‘diagnosis’ of ‘Unexplained Infertility’ seems like a paradox, so no wonder people head to Doctor Google for answers. The key is to know what to get from the internet, and what to avoid.

Positives

Checking reputable internet sites for facts about infertility enables you to understand more about your body and your options. It can also give you an idea of what to expect from the road ahead.

When you are trying to conceive, it’s common to feel very lonely and isolated from your immediate social network. But the internet is full of other people with stories like yours. You are not alone, and connecting with someone in the same boat can be incredibly therapeutic.

Social media is rife with infertility-centred accounts that post positive messages, touching artwork, and funny memes that you only understand once you’re in the club.

All that said, there are definitely some things to avoid when using the internet.

Negatives

Researching your condition and what your options are can feel like an endless task. No one person is the same, and medics don’t always get it right. Reading other people’s stories can be misleading and you can feel like an internet search leaves you with more questions than answers.

TTC? CD? 2WW? ICSI? PGD? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?! As soon as you step into the online world of fertility and infertility it seems there is a whole range of mysterious acronyms for which you’ll need a dictionary (you can read one here).

Why is it that when you are trying to conceive all your social media feeds are bombarded with pregnancy scan images and baby photos? Hide them. Hide them all.

For some people, using the internet in an unhealthy manner can affect their mental health. Internet addiction is a real condition, and combined with health anxiety can cause mental health issues sometimes referred to as ‘Cyberchondria’.

Tips on using the internet when trying to conceive 

Schedule your research. It’s so easy to get dragged down the rabbit hole of misinformation, so make a list of what you’re going to research before you fire up the laptop.

You’re likely to have ideas pop into your head throughout the day (and night) so keep a notebook that will be your list of research topics for your next internet session.

If you’re a midnight web surfer, don’t bring your phone or laptop to bed. Keep that notebook next to your bed and buy an old fashioned alarm clock.

Time yourself and ensure you take reasonable breaks, such as a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes of web surfing.

Stick to reputable sites. Everyone claims to be an expert, and lots of sites will be aiming to sell you something.

Be wary of online chatrooms. Some people find the peer support helpful, and writing down your experiences can be therapeutic. However, reading other people’s stories can also shock and upset you. Many people on these sites are veterans of fertility treatments and have their own personal opinions that may not be helpful to you and your journey. It’s also fairly common for people to recommend certain drugs and treatments that may be completely wrong for you. So if you do use these chatrooms, try and be selective with the sorts of threads you read.

When you have done your research, go to your doctor. Ultimately they will be able to give you guidance in relation to you. Remember that whilst you are completely in control of your journey, fertility treatment is incredibly complex and  depends on the individual(s). If you’d like to try a different approach to treatment then you can always seek a second opinion, but aim to make it a professional one.

 

References 

Internet Use of Fertility Patients: A Systemic Review of the Literature, Zillien et. al. (2011)

The Role of Health Anxiety in Online Health Information Search, Baumgartner and Hartman (2011)

Internet addiction and cyberchondria – Their relationship with Well-Being, Ivanova (2013)

 

 

 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.