FertilityCare helps couples who are having trouble conceiving a child. It offers a natural, affordable and effective alternative to in vitro fertilization. Register file photo

Treatment gives hope to childless couples

  • June 6, 2013

TORONTO - Jenny Celly had almost given up hope of having a child. After two years of expensive fertility treatments without success, she was skeptical in 2010 when she and her husband Martin Castillo went to FertilityCare Toronto. But three months later Celly was pregnant and today the couple has a 19-month old daughter named Leilah.

FertilityCare (formerly the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre) specializes in Natural Reproductive Technology, or NaPro Technology, a relatively new treatment used in conjunction with the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. It is a natural, more affordable and effective alternative to in vitro fertilization.

According to a 2012 study in Canadian Family Physician, two-thirds of couples it studied who received NaPro treatments conceived within two years.

With the Creighton Model, couples are taught to track a woman’s menstrual cycle to identify the most fertile times. NaPro technology goes further to identify the underlying cause of infertility through an extensive series of tests. Doctors then design a treatment specific to each woman to address the physical issue that is preventing pregnancy.

“It’s tailor made to each woman,” said Karen Hemingway, executive director of FertilityCare, adding that tests for hormones are done several times during a woman’s cycle to create a more thorough profile.

“So they’re going to get a more accurate picture of the pre-ovulatory hormones, the post-ovulatory hormones and so on,” said Hemingway. “The difference between NaPro Technology and assisted reproductive technologies, which include IVF (in vitro fertilization) and artificial insemination... is that NaPro Technology investigates and treats the underlying cause of the reproductive health issue that is causing either infertility or repeat miscarriage.”

Some typical causes of infertility are hormone imbalance, irregular ovulation, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, stress and long-term use of birth control pills. If patients require hormone therapy, non-synthetic, bioidentical hormones are used.

They are “most easily absorbed by our body and they don’t have the negative side effects that are associated with synthetic hormones,” said Hemingway. “They actually come from a vegetable source. Bioidentical progesterone comes from yams.”

NaPro methods are natural and therefore conform with Church teachings, unlike IVF which the Church regards as immoral because it relies on artificial insemination. In Ontario, the blood work, medical evaluations, visits to the doctor and ultrasounds needed under NaPro are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, but there is a fee for learning the Creighton Model.

Celly and Castillo spent thousands of dollars on insemination reproductive methods with no results. She describes the procedure as “very painful, very stressful and it was very expensive because it was $500 every time you went.”

FertilityCare’s methods are quite a bit less expensive.

“If a couple is doing IVF, for example, right now it’s running between $8,000 and $12,000 per cycle,” said Hemingway. “That’s one month. And they estimate that it takes up to five to six cycles to be successful with IVF. So we’re looking at $60,000 compared to (what) we’re charging (at) around $2,000.”

Not all couples are successful, but Hemingway is proud of “the compassion” that clients receive from the doctors, the practitioners and even the receptionists.

The underlying cause of Celly’s infertility is still a mystery, but she was able to conceive through FertilityCare. She describes the difference in treatment and care between the conventional fertility centre and FertilityCare as “night and day.”

“(FertilityCare) was very different because it was very natural. I didn’t have to take any injections… It was more relaxed because I wasn’t putting anything inside my body,” she said, mentioning that learning to read her own body took some getting used to. “They made me feel very hopeful. They were very positive and understanding.”

Hemingway says FertilityCare puts couples first.

“If a couple is journeying through infertility, oftentimes their acts of intercourse become very focused on the time of fertility and they’ve lost the pleasure of the relationship. And so we encourage them to explore their relationship,” said Hemingway. “Really treat each other well in all the areas — spiritual, physical, intellectual, communicative (and) emotional — and know and understand each other in a great way so that you remember… why you love each other, and the acts of intercourse will naturally flow from that.”

For information, see www.fertilitycare.ca.

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