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Woman's best friend?

May 19, 2003 11:28 IST

Women are going online to find out more about sensitive information pertaining to their heath and sexuality.

While the general conception is that women often turn to the Net for beauty, fashion, recipes and gossip, there is one more area that usually does not figure in the list.

Increasingly these days, women are surfing to find information on sensitive issues that earlier required an expert's intervention. Gynecological problems and health related queries, for example. Besides providing scientific information on several women's health problems, women also find it easier to talk to someone they don't know about personal health problems.


Anusha Sharma missed several heartbeats when she first noticed glands on her breast. Anticipating breast cancer, she turned to Internet to confirm the symptoms. A subsequent visit to the doctor confirmed the ailment.


"I checked out Women Cancer Network, which had specific information on those detected with breast cancer and those recovering and fighting cancer. The National Alliance for Breast Cancer Organisation provides a similar service and has an email reminder that sends a message every time you are due for a breast examination", says Anusha.


The aim of WCN is to assist patients and their families to cope with the subsequent trauma. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has separate sections on medical treatment and clinical trials.


 Dr Sandhya Pruthi from Mayo Clinic says that "the Web has become a major information source for women to get the best and accurate information to be able to make informed choices for themselves." In the programs and tools section one can access information on detection and treatment of breast cancer at an early stage. It also guides one on taking decisions regarding therapies like hormone replacement therapy.


Madhulika Verma, a housewife, agrees: "Professional sources of health information are insufficient and Internet is the only alternative to gather information on problems that one is shy to discuss openly until sure about the symptoms."


For instance, the problem of menopause is often neglected by women and underserved by the medical community. The difficulties of this phase, symptoms and treatment can be found online for those who prefer not to discuss it openly. The American Academy of Family Physicians offers information on several frequently asked questions on hair loss and PMS (pre-menstrual stress) that often accompany menopause.


Gyneacological ailments is another area that gets waylaid out of embarrassment or carelessness to visit a doctor. With information on topics like hormone replacement therapy (HRT), infertility and urinary incontinence, the Net provides enough background information before consulting an expert.


Consider a sensitive areas like infertility, egg donor/surrogacy services and sperm banks. Sites like Internet Health Resources aims to fill that gap before you are ready to go and seek medical advice. 


Dr N C Chimote, gynaecologist and infertility expert says the number of Net savvy women is increasing. Several of them surf for information on their problems before coming to the doctor.  This is a good sign, according to Dr Chimote, since it also serves to enrich their personal information.


Meera Verma found the Net very useful during her pregnancy. Not only did she gain a lot of information, she also passed her time doing fun quizzes that helped her through her difficult phase.




Interactive pregnancy calendar 

Important facts

Pregnancy, maternity, infertility

Gynecology 101


Nursing moms

Obstetrical Ultrasound


Priyanka Srivastava