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The Cyberskeptic’s Guide to Fertility Websites

Your guide to fertility websites

More than 2.5 million fertility websites offer information to couples anxious for answers. The problem is, anyone can put together a website. 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. It also provides clues to help distinguish between legitimate sites and those that blend information with advertising (called “advertorial”).

How to review fertility websites

Ask yourself these questions to determine whether 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 homepage 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

Look at ownership too

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.

News you can (really) use

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 contact us to schedule a consultation.

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