The Cyperskeptic's Guide to Fertility Websites | Texas Fertility Center Blog

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The Cyperskeptic’s Guide to Fertility Websites

by | June 29, 2011

Have you heard? Herbal supplements can increase your fertility 330 percent. You can get pregnant in 60 days, guaranteed. Feng shui tactics, including displaying pomegranates or pictures of elephants with their noses down, will result in a baby.

These claims pop up in a Google search for infertility cures. In fact, more than 2.5 million sites offer information to couples anxious for answers. Problem is, anyone can put together a website and we want to protect our TFC fertility patients from misleading or even dangerous advice.

The National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus offers an online tutorial to “Healthy Web Surfing” that reinforces what you already know, and provides clues to help distinguish between legitimate sites and those that blend information with advertising (called “advertorial”) to subtly plug a product or service, or sell your name to someone who does. Ask yourself these questions to determine if a site offers what Medline Plus refers to as “current, unbiased information based on research, not opinion.”

• What’s your first impression of the site?
• Is there a clearly stated purpose?
• If there is a product or service, is it clearly marked as advertising?

The first door you should open off the home page is About Us. One fertility website offers a wealth of information on the homepage, but only after several click-throughs do you learn that the site owner sells a fertility supplement on his “one-stop fertility resource center.” Cyberskeptics avoid sites where the main purpose is to sell, not educate. And they never give out personal information without first checking out a site’s privacy policy. A good example of a pharmaceutical company website committed to patient education and privacy is www.fertilitylifelines.com.

Beware of sites with unclear ownership that leave you guessing as to who sponsors or directs the content. Ideally, you’ll enhance your knowledge of infertility with the assistance of a medical practice like TFC, non-profit like Resolve, government agency like Medline Plus, hospital or health organization.

Finally, a Contact Us page should allow you to easily contact the organization. Next, verify the information’s accuracy and relevance. Two words should quickly confirm the site’s commitment to providing timely, scientific data: Editorial Board. That’s a list of qualified professionals’ names, usually followed by Ph.D or M.D. These contributors regularly review and update content. You can also check the site map for Editorial Policy, Editorial Review Policy and Credentials pages. Refer to WebMd for a sample Editorial Policy. This site provides a detailed explanation of who provides its news, and how they separate advertising and editorial.

If it sounds too good to be true… You know the rest. There exists no “guaranteed cure” for infertility. As scientists, we can show you the statistics, and for many patients, these are encouraging. But no doctor will tell you that conception will occur, no matter what.

As part of its commitment to helping couples and individuals overcome infertility, TFC regularly offers timely, concise articles addressing common questions and concerns. Check out our seminar schedule, past newsletters and blogs, with topics ranging from What Your IVF Nurse Wants You to Know to Men and Testosterone. Of course, we always welcome your questions in person and invite you to call us to schedule a consultation.

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Texas Fertility Center

The medical and laboratory teams at Texas Fertility Center (TFC) and Austin IVF work closely together; we draw from our wealth of clinical experience in order to develop an infertility treatment plan optimized specifically for you.

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