The Infotility research programme includes a group of researchers, clinicians and community partners, whose goal is to develop and evaluate mobile solutions for people facing fertility concerns. Infotility is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Recent estimates indicate that up to 16% of Canadian couples experience infertility, defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse. For many couples, the experience of infertility and its treatment is a significant stressful life event.
Our first mobile app targeted men and women undergoing fertility treatment in order to provide them with information about infertility, its treatment, and the psychosocial issues generally faced by fertility patients. This mobile app also had an online forum, where participants were able to interact with trained peer supporters who had been through fertility treatment in the past. Please click on the video below for a demo of the Infotilty app. Analysis of the data from the evaluation of users’ experience of this app is currently underway. Please visit the infotility website to stay up to date with the results of this research.
We are currently developing a second app that will be exclusively designed for and tested on men. Male factors are the primary or contributing causes in about half the cases of diagnosed infertility. Our research has already identified important gaps in the knowledge that men have about their own fertility, and in the extent and quality of online information available on male infertility. As such, there is an important need to provide men with appropriate information and support around issues of fertility.
We aim to target three groups of men with our mobile app: (a) Men who are undergoing assessment and treatment for infertility; (b) men who have had cancer and whose fertility may therefore be compromised and (c) men in the general population, to raise awareness regarding lifestyle risks to their fertility, and promote reproductive health.
For further information please visit the Infotility website at infotility.ca.
The CIHR Team in Perinatal Mental Health included researchers from the fields of psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, nursing, medicine, neuroscience, anthropology and biology. Our research focused on one of the major life cycle transitions in a woman’s life, that of pregnancy and childbirth. This transition is accompanied not only by dramatic changes in virtually every organ system in the body, but also by changes in social role definitions, self-concept, and relationships with partners, parents, friends, and co-workers. While our societal expectations are that pregnancy and childbirth are times of joy and well-being, for a significant number of women this life stage is associated with considerable distress. When a woman’s experience of childbearing is discrepant from that which is considered normative, this may engender feelings of shame and guilt, that may serve as deterrents to help-seeking. Our research programme assessed biopsychosocial models of perinatal illness that link adverse life circumstances as well as hormonal and physiological risk factors to maternal mental health problems, which in turn may affect the mother-infant relationship. A better understanding of both normative and pathological processes will have great utility in the development of public health education, preventive intervention, screening, and treatment programs.
Dr. Phyllis Zelkowitz’s CIHR Team in Perinatal Mental Health at the Jewish General Hospital has produced a video, “The Science of Motherhood,” presenting their research on oxytocin, as part of the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health’s “IHDCYH Talks".