What Is True Reproductive Care?
Infertility is devastating. Having children is one of the greatest joys this side of eternity, and when we are told it cannot happen for us, we are shattered. There are many places that offer reproductive care, but in the world of contemporary medicine, the odds of finding true reproductive care are similar to the odds of finding a sunflower in the desert. The truth is true reproductive care does not always match one’s perception or expectations.
The St. Gianna Clinic has four physicians that specialize in the field of reproductive care, and we would like to share the thoughts of one of them about this exact topic: what is true reproductive care? Dr. Madeleine Guevara states that true reproductive care takes into consideration what we know to be normal and abnormal about human reproduction, and what can work to restore normalcy.
“Our reproductive approach is different from conventional medicine,” Guevara said, “because for us, infertility is not the diagnosis. Infertility is a symptom of something underlying that has not yet been explored or discovered.”
The approach taken at the St. Gianna Clinic seeks to figure out what the underlying problem actually is, rather than treating infertility as if that were the end of the road. Guevara mentions that, especially when these problems arise in younger women, they will often be prescribed the birth control pill because not only is it convenient but in the short term it works. “It’s a lot harder to do things the way we do here. That’s why a lot of young girls may be advised, ‘Look, you’re young, you’re busy, you might be sexually active now or in the future; let’s just do birth control.’ But it is not a cure at all, and can even worsen the underlying issues leading to subfertility. The approach here is that we are trying to find the underlying cause and work with the body to restore normalcy, so that the body is functioning the way it’s supposed to,” she said.
Some of the issues that can be a cause of infertility or sub-fertility include low progesterone, undiagnosed autoimmune conditions, bleeding or clotting disorders, pre-diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to name a few. Even a minor hormonal imbalance can be enough to diminish fertility. Fertility, Guevara said, becomes a consequence of resolving these issues in the same way infertility is a consequence of leaving these issues unresolved. “It is harder,” she said, “to name it and diagnose it, and to say to someone – especially a younger person – that you may need a bit of a lifestyle overhaul, and to say ‘I’m sorry that these were the cards dealt to you, but together we can find a way to help your body work with you rather than against you.’ It is absolutely harder for someone to fight through that at 15 years old for the betterment of their fertility at 20, 30, or 40 and beyond.”
So how is it, then, that contemporaries of the St. Gianna Clinic’s reproductive doctors could underdiagnose these conditions and go straight to birth control or IVF, which can itself cause future infertility? It may be partly due to convenience, yes, but also partly because, according to Guevara, they may simply have not been taught to treat them. “I was heavily into the sciences in high school, I was a biology major in college, I went to medical school and entered into my OB residency, and I didn’t learn any true natural family planning or fertility awareness until my husband and I were engaged, as it was a Diocesan requirement. My initial knowledge about the female body and reproduction stemmed from that. From then on I wanted to figure things out outside of birth control. The more I researched, the more I realized I wasn’t just following this out of blind obedience as a faithful Catholic, but because there’s real medical wisdom within it,” she said.
She also said the landscape of modern medicine is largely conditioned to view her approach with hostility, as there is a large cultural investment in the modern view of human sexuality and fertility. “The minute you say ‘I’m taking this approach because it’s natural, holistic, and restorative, and also in part because of my religious beliefs,’ you’re done.” But yet many are drawn to this approach because of its merits and successes.
It is rare enough in the medical world to find one doctor willing to address the underlying causes of infertility. The St. Gianna Clinic is home to four highly esteemed physicians and NaPro instructors who all take this approach. “Medical consultants are rare, and surgeons who utilize the NaPro approach are even rarer. I am grateful to be able to perform these surgeries for our patients, especially since the successful outcomes are so great!
“For me, it’s a blessing to work with the team we have,” Guevara said. “We have all this knowledge here, and it came at a time where I needed a change in my life and my career. God orchestrated it perfectly. My colleagues all walk the same sort of walk; we’re humbled, we’re grateful, we’re blessed. And we also know how much of the world views us differently. There’s a lot of spiritual battle, and it’s great that we have each other. We have people who come to us who were told they were done having kids at 40, and it turned out to be a simple fix and they could have more children. Or, couples that have been told they would never have children, but then they are able to conceive and deliver beautiful babies! It’s incredible.”
Dr. Guevara is just one bright light among a shining assembly of great medical minds who offer true reproductive care at the St. Gianna Clinic. It is unlike anything you will find almost anywhere else.