Jewish General tests app for people struggling with infertility

Dubbed “Infotility,” the app provides people with information about seeking treatment and it connects them with others who are going through the same thing.

App provides information, helping people navigate infertility treatments and connects them to others

The new app, which researchers hope to release in the coming year, will provide users reliable information and advice 24 hours a day.

A group of researchers, clinicians and community partners with the Jewish General hospital are hoping a new app will help people who are struggling with infertility.

Dubbed "Infotility," the app provides people with information while connecting them with others who are going through the same thing.

It will be tested in some fertility clinics by more than 200 people with the possibility of being released to the public later this year.

"Infertility is a very isolating experience because if you are a couple who is going through this, you are out of sync with your peers," Dr. Phyllis Zelkowitz, who is heading the project, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Tuesday.

"Most of your friends are having babies and sometimes it is hard to talk to your family because they don't really understand the process. They want to help you, but it's also painful for them."

Before deciding to make the app public, researchers will review all the collected data — looking at how users felt and benefited from the app.

The research, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, aims to promote reproductive health in people facing fertility concerns, whether they are part of a couple or young adult male cancer survivors, according to Infotility's website.

When users log on, they can do so as a man or a woman and they are directed to content addressed to their sex.

"Infertility can have a profound impact on a person's physical health, mental well-being and quality of life," it states.

App walks users through process

The app has three main components, she explained. The first is "what you need to know" and that provides the user a lot of information about how to diagnose infertility and what kind of treatments are available.

The second component, covers what people can do as they go through the process. It helps couples get through treatments more smoothly, providing information about nutrition, exercise and promoting mental well being.

The third helps people connect to others who are having or who have had similar experiences. These people have been trained to provide support and information, said Zelkowitz.

"People want to have information," she said. "They want to compare their experiences to the experiences of other people to kind of see, 'is this normal?'"

Providing support, reliable information

It's helpful for couples to know they are not alone, she said, and it is also important to have tips on how to handle challenges such as, for example, attending baby showers.

Beyond the support, she said providing reliable information is vital because searching the internet can lead people to untrustworthy sources and chat forums filled with hearsay.

"In general, people would like their health professionals to recommend reliable websites and not necessarily have to go through the Google process on their own," Zelkowitz said, noting the app even has a full glossary so people can look up medical terms.

"It's information that's easy at hand. So that was another advantage that we saw as opposed to a website."

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak


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