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Dr. Internet

Internet and Fertility

Rare is the woman who will say she is thankful for having some form of infertility. As a matter of fact, 'rare' may be a pretty liberal word choice. A woman who is thankful - not for her resulting children, not for her doctor, not for the things she's learned along the way, but just for the infertility in the first place - may be more difficult to find than Bigfoot. One thing we can definitely be grateful for? If you're going to have issues trying to conceive, thank God it's in 2013 and not 1913. Or 1813. Or 13.

Not just because of advances in medicine or because recovering from a failed cycle would have been all the more difficult to do in a corset, but because of that one, bottomless resource that's available to you 24 hours a day: The Internet.

In another time, if sex didn't do the trick, you would have probably just been childless. Maybe there'd even be some tricky-tricky witch rumor floating about the town, after awhile. Now, a couple of clicks with your finger and you have access to options and information. Modern day witchcraft.

Had it not been for the internet, how many of us would know about pineapple core possibly aiding in implantation? How many of us would have the slightest clue on how to go about not just finding a Fertility Doctor - but a good one? How many of us would know about fertility yoga or acupuncture? Most of us wouldn't even know someone who admitted to having issues conceiving - except maybe that great-aunts' cousin who creeps you out to begin with. It is positively liberating, for example, to type in PCOS into a search engine at 3 o'clock in the morning and not only find informative articles written by Doctors, but find other women with the same diagnosis who can perhaps dispense advice on getting rid of pesky chin hair.

The internet is a bottomless wealth of knowledge. It further informs you about the science behind fertility treatments; gives you a sense of what treatments will actually feel like; gives you alternative things to try in tandem with treatment; helps you find others who are going through or have gone through the same thing; helps empower you in a situation that may otherwise feel powerless.

There are SO many things the internet can do in terms of helping a person conceive. Short of knocking you up himself, is there anything Dr. Google can't do?

Yes. Dr. Google can't officially diagnose you or provide treatment.

Those may seem like harsh words. After all, the internet can absolutely help you hone in on your suspicions with eagle-eyed precision. If you are a woman who is pleasantly plump, has irregular periods, a little more facial hair than you would like and getting pregnant is something that isn't happening as fast as you thought it would - if you go searching, up will pop PCOS, and you may very well have it. Most unfortunately, however, even if it describes you perfectly, there's no way to know for sure just from sitting in your PJ's and doing research. (Oh, how I wish that were true). There's no way to have an official diagnosis just by sitting in front of a computer - you have to sit in front of a specialist.

Recently, in response to some controversial ads and just a more open and widespread dialogue about fertility in general, the internet has exploded in opinion about how panicked women should be about their fertility. People read scientific studies, have their own response to it as a result of their own personal experiences, and present their resulting opinion as fact.

The issue this comes up with the most, and perhaps puts the downside to internet-diagnosing in the sharpest focus, is a woman's fertility in relation to her age. It's an unfortunate fact that fertility does make a decline the older that a person gets, and makes a pretty steep decline for a woman past the age of 40. The internet response to this fact is wildly dynamic. On one side you have people implying that fertility beyond the age of 35 is a thing of science fiction, just an impossible idea for anyone. On the other side, you have people who had three children after the age of 37 and therefor believe and share loudly that since it came easy for them, there's no reason for anyone else to panic.

The fact is, there will be women who try for their first baby at 37 and immediately get pregnant, and likewise there will be women who start trying to conceive at 25 for whom it will take years of fertility treatments. Your medical history, your family history, and your first year of trying to conceive can give you an idea of what your journey to parenthood might be like. The only way to get an official diagnosis and get steered in the right direction is by seeing a fertility specialist.

Surfing the internet to diagnose ourselves and reading every bit of information we can get, all the while putting off making an appointment, can feel proactive. Using it as a tool in conjunction with seeing a Doctor IS proactive - using it without seeing one is procrastination.

The internet is invaluable when you're trying to conceive - if you use it in the right way.

Use it to fine tune any suspicions you may have.

Use it to arm yourself with an abundance of information on available treatments, on what's going on in terms of studies and research not just in your area but in ANY area.

Use it to find great, alternative treatments and natural remedies to try in tandem with conventional treatments.

Use it to find others going through similar situations and to learn about what conditions or treatments really feel like.

Use it to find support.

Use it to arrive at your Doctors office an empowered, informed patient with the right questions and the right determination. Use it to help you get the most out of your Doctor.

Just don't use it AS a Doctor.


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