More men turn to infertility helpline

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The Independent Online
MEN are increasingly turning for help over infertility, according to ISSUE, the national fertility association.

The association has now employed a male counsellor to help man its confidential evening telephone helpline. It has also increased its hours by 20 in order to cope with increased calls.

Infertility affects one couple in six in the UK but is still a subject many find difficult to talk about, even with family and friends. Men seem to be particularly reluctant to talk about it.

But Susan Rice, chief executive of ISSUE, said that the number of calls had steadily increased. Only 10 men called in December, but by February this had doubled to 20 - nearly a fifth of all calls.

"It is still mainly women who call but we are very encouraged that it is changing," she said. "It used to be very rare that men would call."

Former consultant embryologist Sammy Lee now counsels for ISSUE on Friday evenings. Mr Lee helped pioneer the fertility treatment GIFT (in which eggs and sperms are mixed before being replaced in the womb). He turned to counselling infertile couples and last year published a book on the subject.

"Telephone counselling is popular because the caller is always in control, able to choose whether or not to give his or her name and when to put the phone down," said Ms Rice. "And we think Sammy Lee working on a Friday night is a good idea. People are sitting down, relaxing maybe with a drink in their hand. They feel safe and able to pick up the phone and talk. The other thing is that men have come home for the weekend and they do not have work to take their mind off infertility."

n ISSUE's helpline, 01922 722888, is open 7.30-9.30pm Mon-Thurs. and 8-10pm on Friday. Calls are charged at the standard rate.