Paging Dr. Google! Women Turn to Computers for Diagnoses

Pregnancyorg Staff's picture

by Cassandra R. Elias

In the News: Study Shows Women Use Internet for Self-Diagnosis

How many times have you felt a bump, lump or had an abrasion that you decided to look up on the internet? How many times did you regret it? We often look something up as innocent as a tiny bump and come up with everything from a pimple to the worst skin cancer.

Scared to death, we start thinking about our wills and what will happen to our children. Inevitably, it turns out it was just a pimple after all. "Dr. Google" doesn't always get it right!

According to a recent study of 1,000 women, one in four women misdiagnoses herself on the internet. Most interestingly is that women with real health concerns are more likely to go online seeking advice than they are to ask a doctor, friends or even their mothers (especially where symptoms are of a personal nature).

Among the more common self-diagnoses? Breast cancer, high blood pressure, thrush, asthma, arthritis, depression, thyroid and sexual problems. Common symptoms they input include sleep issues, headaches, depression, anxiety, muscle spasms, stomach pain, fatigue, itching and skin sensitivity.

The study was conducted by BalanceActiv, a UK company, to raise awareness of bacterial vaginosis, which carries a risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to fertility issues if left untreated. It can also lead to a heightened risk of contracting STDs and premature birth.

BalanceActiv’s spokesperson Penny McCormick said, "There is an increasing trend towards using the internet to diagnose any irregularities or worries we have about our bodies. The web gives us a wealth of information that can be useful in reducing our worries until we’re able to gain proper advice from a medical authority if it's needed, but the results show how easy it is to make mistakes when diagnosing ourselves."

Ironically, their proposed solution to the problem of "Dr. Google" is their own internet symptom checker which is an online self-diagnosis tool.

Are you guilty of scouring the internet for what could possibly be wrong? Don't be shy, share your secrets!