A review of the evolving landscape between the consumer Internet and men’s health

Adithya Balasubramanian, Justin Yu, Ashwin Srivatsav, Aaron Spitz, Michael L. Eisenberg, Nannan Thirumavalavan, J. Abram McBride, Larry I. Lipshultz, Alexander W. Pastuszak

Abstract

Internet adoption continues to increase as broadband access and mobile connectivity penetrate developing global markets. Alongside increasing adoption, the Internet continues to evolve and usher in new modes of user interaction. Social media and search engines have facilitated the emergence of the participatory web, in which users are able to contribute content, form online communities, and disseminate information. This participatory web is reshaping the patient-physician relationship as patients are able to search for medical information, directly engage with healthcare practitioners through social media, and make therapeutic decisions via online marketplaces. The ability for patients to self-diagnose and self-treat is highly relevant to andrology, given that men have a baseline reluctance to visit healthcare providers. Furthermore, men’s health issues such as erectile dysfunction and male infertility are stigmatized, with men turning to the Internet for guidance. The focus of this review is to survey the academic literature that evaluates the quality of online content for four common men’s health conditions: hypogonadism, male infertility, erectile dysfunction, and Peyronie’s disease.