I entered this profession because my Practitioner was able to identify low progesterone from my chart and I wanted to help women like my Practitioner helped me. I didn't expect to encounter so many misunderstandings about what I do. People often think that I offer a "natural contraception" or that I "help people get pregnant naturally." Neither statement is accurate, though both contain some truth.
I AM a chart reader, teacher and coach.
I read the woman's chart for signs of potential gynecologic health issues. Sometimes this means identifying causes of infertility/subfertility and sometimes it just means helping women see their physician for healing, even if they are finished having children. Some of the health issues we identify affect women's moods and PMS, others are precancerous. I frequently give women talking points for their physician and/or write physician referrals so women receive the healthcare they deserve.
I teach couples to chart their fertility. Many couples come to me seeking "natural contraception" or "help getting pregnant naturally." I teach couples when they are fertile and infertile based on the women's cycle and natural biomarkers. Couples can then use this information to avoid or achieve pregnancy. The Creighton Model is not natural contraception because it does nothing to prevent conception from occurring. Couples can avoid pregnancy by choosing to have intercourse only on the infertile days, which is the majority of the cycle.
The "help getting pregnant naturally" statement is a little more accurate. By simply having intercourse on their fertile days, 20-40% of couples with diagnosed infertility successfully achieve pregnancy. When coupled with medical treatment, up to 80% of couples achieve pregnancy in a year, depending on the cause of infertility. Although couples use the information I teach to either avoid or achieve pregnancy, it is entirely the couple's choice. I provide information so they can make an informed decision.
I am a chart coach. A chart coach answers questions, corrects misunderstandings, and encourages clients on their FertilityCare journey. FertilityCare is a lifestyle. Like any new lifestyle, it takes time, energy and commitment to learn. I offer suggestions for those struggling with observations. I also offer advice on gynecologic health and how certain health factors, vitamins and medications affect observations.
I DON'T replace professional help.
I am a professional chart reader, teacher and coach. I am not a doctor. I don't diagnose or treat conditions. I can identify risk factors for many diseases, but all need medical testing for a diagnosis. Occasionally I can suggest diet changes or supplementation to relieve symptoms, but this is usually coupled with a recommendation to see your physician.
You may be wondering why you should see me if I'm just going to refer you to your physician anyway. The chart provides direction for the physician. Think of it like a crime scene. I am the investigator who looks at the possibilities and identifies the most probable cause(s). The doctor is the court who gives a verdict (diagnosis) and sentence (treatment). Could the judge come up with the right verdict without the investigator? Yes, but it would take a lot of trial and error to get there. I streamline the process by providing a well-managed chart and recommendations.
I also refer to counseling. Part of my job is recognizing when a person or couple could benefit from personal, family, or spiritual counseling. Oftentimes, all a couple needs is for me to leave the room for a few minutes to give them space to talk or for me to suggest talking points for the car ride home. I also keep financial and interpersonal worksheets in my binder for couples who could benefit from them. Finally, I am excited to start referring to Physical Therapy, as I just recently learned the amazing impact Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can have on gynecologic health!
I DON'T mind you asking
Clients will often start describing their observations as "this might be weird," or "this might be too personal, but..." Rest assured that if you are talking about mucus, I am trained to hear it all AND figure out what it might tell us about your health! If we are talking about the I's on your chart, know that intercourse is a NORMAL and HEALTHY part of marriage! Thankfully, I have never had a client give me too many details. All that I need to know is if it happened and occasionally what time of day. I don't need to (or want to) know the circumstances surrounding any particular act of intercourse. If you experience pain with intercourse or struggling with intimacy, I can refer you to professional help.
I DON'T share client information
I am required to comply with HIPPA, which means not disclosing any information that could identify a client. This sounds pretty simple, except when your clients share information with people who know both of you. Then the other party starts asking questions. I can give generalizations, like "many women with PCOS have long cycles," but I can't share the symptoms or potential medical issues of any particular client. Likewise, I can share generalizations and statistics. For example, I have clients from three different states, or please pray for a client of mine who is having her laproscopy today, because that could describe any number of people. Clients can share whatever they want, but need to understand that I can't share for them.
I DON'T want to lose friends
I have asked many of my friends if they want to be my clients. I ask because I'm excited about what I do and I believe I can truly help all women monitor and maintain their reproductive and gynecological health. I do not get offended if you don't want to be my client. I understand that my work is personal and unconventional. I still cherish my friends and hope my choice of helping women through FertilityCare doesn't jeopardize our friendship.
I DON'T make bank.
I get really mixed reviews about the fairness of my prices. Each Practitioner develops her own prices based on experience and location. For example, this morning I read about a center in Singapore that charges $135 USD ($180 Singapore dollars) per session, the doctor in my area charges $45-$75 per session, and I charge $30 per session.
I am blessed that we can live off my husband's job and my Youth Ministry salary, so I'm not concerned about making money on FertilityCare. I AM concerned about losing money. The training for this program cost about the same as a semester of college. My current expenses include paying my supervisor and buying materials. I had two cleaning jobs last year that covered what my client fees didn't pay for. Thankfully, my client fees should cover my expenses this year, since I am only $35 short of breaking even. My future goals include accreditation through the FertilityCare Centers of America, which has a fee and requires yearly professional development, and buying the updated Introductory Session (just released last month!). Eventually, I hope to make enough profit to attend the annual FertilityCare Centers of America conferences and sponsor a child through Unbound.
For those of you who think my prices are high, know that I am not making money, and when I do it will go toward a good cause. Those interested in the program often think that the cost is high, those on the outside (post-menopausal women, religious leaders, etc.) seem to think the cost is low and my supervisor thinks my prices are fair. I am blessed to work with a Not for Profit (The Creighton Model Education Foundation, INC.) that covers anything the client can't afford. We truly believe all women should have access to FertilityCare services for their reproductive and gynecologic health!
There you have it.
In summary, the do's and don'ts of FertilityCare is an amazing journey that I am so privileged to be on! If there are other things you've always wanted to know about the life/mind of a FertilityCare Practitioner, feel free to ask!
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Stephanie started her Creighton Model journey in early 2014 and entered the program to instruct others in 2017. She enjoys equally adventuring in the great outdoors with family and friends and reading a good book with a cup of tea. For more details, visit her About Me page.