Lourdes fertility program helps Kennewick couple

Wende Carlisle of Kennewick approached the process of conceiving her first child like a scientist.

She collected data, which she neatly organized in a binder with tabs where she charted information about her body, her reproductive cycles and different methods she and her husband, Evan, tried as they realized conceiving a baby was going to be a challenge.

Months into the process, when she just wasn't getting pregnant, the couple decided to seek medical advice.

They got poked, prodded, tested and counted -- and were told nothing was wrong.

"It just wasn't happening," she said.

But the couple wasn't ready to give up or to dismiss the idea that there must be some reason why Carlisle had not gotten pregnant.

That is when they decided to check out Lourdes Medical Center's new FertilityCare Center last fall on a friend's recommendation.

FertilityCare opened in 2010, and uses NaProTECHNOLOGY and the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to help women conceive -- or avoid conception, if that is the desired result.

Shira Wise, the center's supervisor, said it isn't the old, unreliable calendar method most people think of when they hear the words "natural procreative technology."

NaProTECHNOLOGY is based in science and the idea that treating the underlying problem that might bar conception is preferable to giving a woman fertility drugs or artificial insemination.

While NaProTECHNOLOGY is the system of evaluation and treatment, the Creighton Model is a data gathering system used by women in the program that requires them to use a simple but detailed charting system of their own menstrual cycles.

Carlisle, 40, discovered after using the charting system for a couple of months that she did in fact have a fairly minor problem that was preventing her from getting pregnant -- her body wasn't making enough mucous to help her husband's sperm hit their mark.

"The sperm couldn't swim upstream -- they were going into a concrete wall," she said.

Once the problem was identified, the Carlisles were able to work with Dr. Elma de Leon to find a treatment. A shot to stimulate her ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone at just the right time in Carlisle's cycle did the trick, and within a month, the couple had conceived. Their first child is due in February.

"I'm just looking forward to those moments -- those inexplicable, beautiful moments you get to have with that child," she said. "Teaching someone to grow up and love and live and just enjoy. There's just not really a better feeling than what we're feeling right now in this expectation of this little one. I don't care about the late nights or the lack of sleep."

Wise said simple problems often can be fixed and a couple can conceive within about six months. More complicated cases can take longer. The process overall is about 80 percent effective in treating infertility.

She said the program is 99 percent effective for preventing pregnancy, and that number has been upheld by a study by the University of Utah School of Medicine. A second study is under way and will be published in 2012.

Carlisle said she was hesitant before going to FertilityCare, but ended up being impressed by the science.

"I really, really believe in what they're doing and how they're doing it, because it is scientific and solving the problem rather than the symptoms," she said. "I can't tell enough people about it."