Life Health & Wellbeing

Wednesday 24 September 2014

App give hi-tech help to couples hit by infertility

Published 24/06/2014 | 02:30

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Studies show that people with fertility problems fluctuate between hope and despair very often. (Picture posed.)
Studies show that people with fertility problems fluctuate between hope and despair very often. (Picture posed.)

A NEW free app to support couples trying to conceive has been developed in Ireland by a psychotherapist specialising in the emotional and physical well-being of people undergoing fertility treatment.

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The Mind Body app was created by Ann Bracken, a counselling psychotherapist at Sims IVF, Dublin. It offers practical advice and information on issues surrounding infertility, and treatments available. It can be downloaded from Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Coping strategies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness stress reduction, relaxation techniques and nutritional support are highlighted.

She said its development was prompted by research she carried out in Ireland in 2013, which indicated that 82 per cent of people with fertility problems fluctuate between hope and despair very often.

"But what stood out in this Irish research was that, unlike other nations, only 20 per cent of Irish people experiencing symptoms of grief on account of fertility problems had sought counselling support."

Statistics show that one in five people here have fertility issues.

Meanwhile, a self-help website for men experiencing fertility problems has had a million visitors over a five year period. Pip Reilly, an experienced psychotherapist, fertility practitioner and counsellor in the UK, who founded Mensfe.net, said male and female reactions to infertility can be very different. "The most compelling contradiction for me is the assumption that men are not given as much attention and support as their female partners.

"The major part of treatment is done through treating the female, and male treatment is minimal in comparison, but what has not changed is the inability of the male to seek emotional support, to understand the emotional rollercoaster they are both going through.

"The support may be available but is not taken up by the male, who may wish to stay anonymous. Hence the popularity of a website."

He added: "A key to combating these communication differences (between partners) is acceptance and understanding of each other's needs and different approach."

He said that sadly some couples do break up because of infertility. "The man can say 'I am not giving you what you want. Go and find another man.' I have also known many females after negative treatment cycles to panic and suggest they use donated sperm when they do not need to.

"Mensfe.net was set up to help to deal with gender communication difference and needs, and these cases in particular demonstrate the need for good ongoing communication when dealing with infertility."

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