Social Media Can Provide Emotional Support to Women with Infertility

Social media might be the saving grace for many infertile women going through emotional distress. In a new study, it was found that using social media to engage in topics related to fertility, can help provide women with emotional support that they might need if the are struggling with getting pregnant.

These findings were published in the journal BMC Women’s Health.

Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system that prevents the conception of children. People who have no success in getting pregnant after a year of trying are said to be infertile.

The study shows that participating in online forums can provide women with the information they might need about different fertility treatments as well.

Over the last two decades, the internet has changed how people communicate with their physicians, and with each other as well when it comes to the matter of health. People who suffer from infertility are more likely to use forums, chat rooms, websites, blogs, Facebook, and other internet resources to deal with what they are going through.

The researchers wanted to see if these resources are indeed helpful for infertile people. They administered a cross-sectional, computer based online questionnaire in people attending online infertility social forums. A total of 132 people completed the questionnaire.

Most of them were answered by women and through Facebook. The results revealed that 60 percent of the respondents had taken part in discussions related to infertility on social media. Among the respondents, 39 percent participated daily in such forums, sometimes even more than once in a day.

Half of the participants spent one to three hours weekly to the forums and wrote between 1 to 5 postings per week.

The forums that were used helped women get relevant information, provided solidarity, and also gave the opportunity to the participants to support each other through tough times. It helped many women who were experiencing alienation from social life and felt fragmented as a person due to infertility.

The only negative effect that was seen in the study was that sometimes the information being shared with each other was not evidence or science based.

Infertility affects a large proportion of women in the world. According to estimates all 8 to 12 percent of reproductive-aged couples, experience some sort of infertility.

In United States, among 100 couples, nearly 12 to 13 of them have trouble becoming pregnant. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 6 million women in United States between the age of 15 to 44, has trouble becoming pregnant or staying pregnant.

Many of these women and couples then undergo a whole array of assisted reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), that can be both mentally and economically exhausting. Here, regardless of the cause of the infertility, the female has to undergo a variety of fertility procedures juts to get pregnant.

So, both the cause of infertility and the treatment itself can place a woman under undue stress and psychological and emotional pressure. Many men can go through this process as well.

Many mental health experts have previously explained that women faced with infertility experience a strong need of guidance and social support, which is not always answered by the society. In many cases women undergoing infertility cannot even recognize that they are experiencing any kind of grief.

This can lead to increased feelings of shame and isolation in many women. Many women in response then hide their feelings, festering in a pool of shame and depression.

Experts believe that finding other women undergoing similar experiences can help them to realize that she is not alone and that their feelings are reasonable. An effective way of doing this is through online social media, such as Facebook, blogs, and forums. Social media here can provide a valuable source of support to women undergoing infertility.

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