Conference: In Vitro Isn't the Only Option

NaProTechnology Growing in Ireland, Taiwan, Poland

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By Karna Swanson

OMAHA, Nebraska, SEPT. 9, 2010 ( Couples suffering from infertility might think their only option for having children of their own is to seek artificial fertilization treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). The Pope Paul VI Institute, however, wants them to know that there is an alternative, and it’s coming to a city near them.

The increasing availability of Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTechnology) was one topic addressed last Friday at the international medical conference that took place today as part of the “Celebration of Love and Life” seminar organized by the Omaha-based Pope Paul VI Institute to mark its 25th anniversary.

NaProTechnology, developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, provides medical and surgical treatments that seek to work with the reproductive system, as well as remaining consistent with Catholic teaching. Since its development, NaProTechnology methods have become available in several cities in the United States, as well as in Europe, Australia and Asia.

Dr. Phil Boyle, the founder and director of the Galway NaProTechnology Clinic in Galway Ireland, spoke in the afternoon session about the situation of NaProTechnology in Ireland, where the methods have resulted in some 240 conceptions in six years.

In his address, Boyle gave a detailed report of the success rate of the center, but noted that the couples he treats are often older — the average age of the woman is 36.7 years old — and they are couples who have been trying to conceive for an average of more than five years.

According to the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology, in vitro fertilization treatments in Europe have a 30% success rate for in vitro fertilization, Boyle cited. That success rate, he added, doesn’t into account a 14%-24% miscarriage rate.

The physician reported a 43.6% live birth rate using NaProTechnology for women between the 35-37 age group, the highest of any age group he treated. For women over 43, he reported a live birth rate of 21%.

Regarding age, Boyle noted that when he started practicing NaProTechnology some 12 years ago, women normally didn’t worry about being too old to get pregnant until they were in their 40s. “Now,” he said, “there is panic at 35.”

He attributed this new perception to the IVF mindset, and lamented that women are often pushed into IVF treatments “much too quickly.”

He encouraged couples to be “patient, and to wait” in order to be able to “optimize fertility” so as to be able to get pregnant naturally. “Our whole goal with NaProTechnology is to optimize physiological conditions for pre-conception, to restore normal function,” he said.

“Slow down, establish your diagnosis, get a relaxed calm environment, and allow 12 full cycles,” Boyle continued. “And remember that conception is a fruit of love, and not your labor.”


Sister Arlene Te, of the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart and a family doctor at the Cardinal Tien Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, addressed the congress on her success in provided infertility treatments in Taiwan using NaProTechnology.

The religious noted that those who approach her for treatment are normally women from 35-45 who are seeking help to get pregnant, and have normally already undergone an IVF treatment. Given that only about 1.2% of the population of Taiwan is Catholic, she stated that couples don’t seek out NaProTechnology because of its consistency with Catholic teaching, but rather because they are looking for an alternative to failed IVF treatments.

She noted her success for achieving pregnancy for couples who undergo treatment up to 24 months is 48.6%, with a 3.9% miscarriage rate.

The religious spoke of several success cases she has had with NaProTechnology. The first was of a 34-year-old woman who had been trying to get pregnant for seven years. After observing her cycle for three months, Sister Te prescribed her to take vitamin B, and a month later she got pregnant and carried the baby to term.

The second case was of a 36-year-old woman who had been married for 10 years, and during that time she had undergone six unsuccessful artificial insemination treatments, and eight unsuccessful IVF treatments. She diagnosed the woman with polycystic ovary syndrome. After undergoing a laparoscopic surgery, the woman was able to get pregnant three cycles later.

Sister Te said that one of her greatest challenges is that women in Taiwan opt very quickly to seek IVF treatments because “they have no patience. […] They want an instant result.”

“Doing the NaProTEchnology,” however, the religious noted, “has helped them to understand and appreciate their own fertility. Many couples found that the Creighton Model system helped them to have better communication, respect for each other, and promote marital bonding.”

Sister Te said they also like the system because it promotes a “natural way of achieving pregnancy,” as opposed to IVF, which is “very hard on their bodies.”

The physician underlined that she always emphasizes to her patients that they are at a Catholic hospital, and that as they undergo fertility treatment, she says a prayer for them. “They realize,” she added, “that when they get pregnant, it is a gift from God.”


Dr. Bogdan Chazan, who is the director of Holy Family Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital in Warsaw, Poland, was unable to attend the conference, but he sent a paper on establishing NaProTechnology in Warsaw. Piotr Klimas, a resident at the same hospital in Warsaw, delivered the paper.

Dr. Chazan noted in his address that since the introduction of NaProTechnology in Poland, it has been growing steadily. Conferences on NaProTechnology have been held all over Poland, including one in Warsaw that drew some 600 attendees. The turnout surprised organizers, who had to move the venue at the last minute to accommodate the crowd.

There are now 12 trained medical consultants, including eight doctors of obstetrics and Gynecology, who are trained in NaProTechnology, as well as 30 practitioners of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, the doctor reported. There are also several medical centers in Poland offering natural infertility treatments, including the John Paul II Institute for Marital Infertility Treatment in Lublin.

Chazan was grateful for NaProTechnology in that it gives “Polish doctors a chance to practice gynecologic medicine in peace with their consciences.”

Although noting that NaProTechnology enjoys a “friendly atmosphere” in Poland in general, the doctor noted that there is a threat coming from IVF practitioners who are currently seeking to discredit NaProTechnology, comparing it to homeopathy, and asserting that is ideologically driven.

“It is important,” he emphasized, “that we continue to present the opportunities and limitations of NaProTechnology with honesty and accuracy.”

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