Local News

Infertility Information Available on the Internet

Posted November 22, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— Couples facing infertility have more options than ever. But the first step in doing something about it is informing yourself.

Books, magazines and your primary care doctor are excellent resources. But now, as WRAL OnLine reporterTom Lawrenceexplains, the Internet is a quick, easy and private way to learn more about infertility.

Reproduction is a major human force. For infertile couples, whether it's the man or woman or both, the issue can be heart-rending. Treatment is expensive and takes time and patience. That's why the Internet can be a big help.

Type "infertility" into any search engine and you'll find thousands of pages devoted to all aspects of the issue.

Dr. Stephen Shaban treats male infertility atUNC Hospitals. He has treated patients who learned what they can on the Internet.

"They come in with questions," says Shaban. "They already have some baseline education about what's going on. They ask good questions."

Among Web sites dealing with infertility, theMining Companysite is one of the most productive. You'll find links from advocacy to treatment risks.

Chat rooms and discussion boards give users a way to communicate personal situations with others for feedback and support. Shaban says that's a positive.

"Overall, yes, I do think the chat rooms help people come out and talk about it," says Shaban. "And it might get them out of their living room and into our offices for real professional advice."

Medical science and technology are solving many infertility problems, and with them, many of the deep personal emotional scars of not being able to have children.

"Some people may have never wanted children and they fall in love, get married and then they can't have children. And it really does hurt. And that's what drives it," says Shaban.

Shaban recommends the Web site of theAmerican Society of Reproductive Medicineas a credible resource.

Dr. Shaban says many infertility resources on the Internet present good information, but warns users to be careful.

"You know we've all been told 'don't believe everything you read' and that is what I have to tell people," says Shaban. "There are some, like many businesses, say mom and pop joints, that have marginal credibility, marginal success and the consumers must be aware."

Dr. Shaban says the Internet isnota good place to look for medical advice. He recommends learning as much as you can about infertility, then talk with your primary care physician and get a couple of referrals to specialists who can deal with your specific situation.

Remember, you should check any information you get online with your primary care physician or specialist. As Dr. Shaban said, there's lots of good information online but be wary of medical advice on the Internet.