Before her own journey to overcome infertility, Jeanette Firpo watched a close family member deal with similar issues. She observed her loved one suffer from the side effects of powerful hormone injections to encourage ovulation, endure the expense of what was ultimately unsuccessful in vitro fertilization, and grapple with the moral dilemma surrounding embryos that were conceived but never implanted in the womb.
Jeanette felt fortunate that she had learned about another option, one that was a better fit for her both physically and spiritually. Her six-month-old daughter, Laila, was conceived after Jeanette and her husband, Jessy, were diagnosed and treated by doctors using Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTECHNOLOGY) techniques at Catholic Health Services’ Gianna Center of Long Island.
“At the Gianna Center we practice restorative reproductive medicine (RRM) and surgery,” said Medical Director Paul Carpentier, MD, CFCMC. RRM is a holistic approach that focuses on pinpointing the underlying cause of infertility. Once the cause is identified, doctors recommend medical, surgical and nutritional methods to restore the capabilities of the reproductive system.
In contrast, commercial IVF clinics use a one-size-fits-all approach to conception, often without uncovering the underlying problem. In fact, Dr. Carpentier pointed out that around 40 – 60% of patients of commercial IVF clinics are “diagnosed” with “unexplained infertility.”
“But we find the cause in 99% of cases,” he said, noting that infertility often has multiple causes which may involve the man as well as the woman.
Jeanette was found to have severe endometriosis, which affects up to 80% of women with infertility, according to Dr. Carpentier. Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inner uterus grows outside of the uterus in the abdominal cavity, causing pain and scarring. Jeanette underwent minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery to remove the endometriosis.
Jeanette benefited from the skills of the Good Samaritan’s Chief of Gynecologic Oncology, Pankaj Singhal, MD, who is experienced in using the surgical robot to perform the delicate operation to remove the endometrial tissue from deep within the abdomen.
At the same time, Dr. Carpentier used medications, supplements, and vitamins to help stabilize Jeanette’s immune system, sleep cycles and nutritional status, all of which contributed to her infertility. He identified an endorphin deficiency, an easily treated, often overlooked problem that affects the immune system and causes individuals to be extremely sensitive to pain, disrupts their sleep and causes severe menstrual symptoms. Jeanette’s husband was evaluated and treated with supplements as well.
A critical part of Jeanette and Jessy’s journey was learning to observe her cervical mucus as a way to monitor her ovulation cycle, thereby identifying her peak days for conception to occur.
IVF centers require frequent laboratory testing to predict ovulation, but by learning simple techniques at the Gianna Center, Jeanette and Jessy were able to avoid costly, invasive lab tests.
Located in Babylon, the Gianna Center is the only clinic of its kind on Long Island. Patients from around the country come to the Center, drawn by both its comprehensive, holistic approach to treating infertility as well as its conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“The Gianna Center offers a unique opportunity for residents of Long Island and beyond to restore normal anatomy and physiology without being subjected to artificial chemicals,” said Dr. Singhal.
“At first I went to a fertility specialist for a consultation and they wanted to put me straight on hormones,” Jeanette recalled. “They didn’t take the time to figure out if there was something wrong internally. I liked that even though this was a slow process, we were able to figure out what was going on with my body. I think a lot of it was faith as well. Along with what I was doing I was very faithful and prayed a lot.”
The combination of faith and medicine was a winning strategy for the Firpos. Just two months after Jeanette’s surgery, she and Jessy learned that they were expecting.
“Through this process I learned a lot about myself spiritually and about my body,” Jeanette said. “I would tell other women to have hope. There’s another option. If you put it in God’s hands and be patient, it will happen.”
For more information on the Gianna Center of Long Island or Good Samaritan’s Center for Gynecologic Oncology, please call (631) 376-4444.