16 August 2010
By Malathy Iyer
"It is a tool for the new Indian women who juggles a career with family,’’ said Dr Aniruddha Malpani, director of HELP Library that launched the ‘freedom’ website on the midnight of Saturday. While infertility experts regularly use the fertility awareness method (FAM) to help couples plan the best day for conception, the online tool, in a manner of speaking, offers the flip–side: it presents the other days that are best days to avoid pregnancy.
The web offers virtually unlimited amounts of information, said an article titled ‘Untangling the Web–Patients, Doctors and the Internet’ in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in March 2010.
"Popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo provide portals on primary data published in scholarly journals as well as critical analyses of these studies, slide presentations from grand rounds, videos of surgical procedures, and guidelines from professional societies. The voices that patients hear have multiplied wildly as chat rooms and blogs filled with testimonials have proliferated,’’ it added.
Moreover, it’s easier to surf than visit a doctor in today’s stress–laden life in metros. "Both patients and their doctors are hard–pressed for time. It may hence be difficult to sit down together for 10–odd minutes to chart out a patient’s fertility chart. The online tool is thus useful,’’ said Dr Malpani, adding that the site sends e–mail reminders every month.
A gynaecologist, who doesn’t want to be named, felt that such online tools would be useful for those whose religion prevents the use of modern–day barriers to pregnancy. Dr Duru Shah, former president of the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Society of India (FOGSI), added in a voice of caution that "most natural methods have high chances of failure’’.Dr Malpani, however, felt that the new tool should only be considered as an addition to the existing ones: "Along with emergency contraception, condoms, etc, this is another option.’’
However, Dr Shah is worried about patients encountering conflicting advice and opinions in the online world. "The net should not substitute the doctor, she added. The NEJM article, too, concluded that the doctor will never be optional. "Physicians are in the best position to weigh information and advise patients, drawing on their understanding of available evidence as well as their training and experience. If anything, the wealth of information on the Internet will make such expertise and experience more essential,’’ it added.
Know Your Cycle
- An egg (ovum) can live inside a woman’s body for 12–24 hours
- Sperm can live in a woman’s body up to 5 days after intercourse. Pregnancy is most likely if intercourse occurs anytime from 3 days before ovulation until 2–3 days after ovulation
- Since the exact time of ovulation cannot be predicted, doctors add 2 to 3 days to the beginning and the end
- A woman’s fertile time (unsafe days if she wants to prevent pregnancy) is thus about 1/3rd of her cycle