February 18, 2016
Maggie Rotermund
314-977-8018

SLUCare's Restorative Fertility Clinic: An Effective Alternative to IVF

Dr. Patrick Yeung and his team treat the root causes of infertility

When conceiving a child becomes a struggle, couples face hard decisions about how to make their dreams of a family become reality. While some turn to expensive and invasive procedures, there are other alternatives.

Patrick Yeung, M.D., a SLUCare OB/GYN and a specialist with the SLUCare Restorative Fertility Clinic at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - St. Louis, says that while invasive procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be successful, they don't address the underlying medical issues that are causing the infertility.

"Many modern fertility methods attempt to bypass the body. We use an approach that looks at finding the underlying problem that prevents a couple from becoming pregnant and fixing it," Yeung said.

Infertility can impact one of six couples trying to conceive.

Yeung, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and women's health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, says once the condition causing the infertility is identified and treated, pregnancy is likely to occur naturally and subsequent pregnancies are possible without further medical intervention.

Yeung and his team use a fertility-care approach based on NaProTECHNOLOGY that:

  • Investigates why the couple is having trouble getting pregnant
  • Treats the root causes of the couple's infertility
  • Works with the woman's cycle to enable her to conceive naturally

NaProTECHNOLOGY is a new women's health science that monitors and maintains a woman's reproductive and gynecological health by providing medical and surgical treatments that work naturally with the reproductive system.

Couples begin by becoming ‘fertility aware,' which is knowing and recognizing a woman's fertile time during her menstrual cycle. The couples chart fertility by looking at a woman's mucus score to target the optimal time of the month for ovulation and conception. They are trained in the Creighton Model charting method and discuss results with Dr. Yeung's team during monthly clinic appointments.

The clinic looks at the health of both partners, evaluating the male reproductive system, hormone levels, sexual issues and possible anatomical challenges. Yeung analyzes the results to determine the next steps for the couple. The solution may be as simple as changes in diet or it may be surgery to treat an underlying medical problem.

"There is a study which shows success rates with this approach are up to 73 percent in two years and another that shows 52 percent success in two years even when 33 percent of the patients had tried and failed IVF," Yeung said. "This restorative approach shows that IVF is not the last resort."

Dealing with that underlying issue can not only improve fertility, it can also improve overall health. Endometriosis can be found in up to 50 percent of patients with infertility. Women who have been treated for endometriosis typically experience reduced pain, if pelvic pain was present before treatment. 

"There are other benefits to dealing with underlying health problems," Yeung noting. "We can treat cramps, PMS, abnormal cycles and repetitive miscarriages by addressing what is really going on in a woman's body."

Yeung said the SLUCare Restorative Fertility Clinic is aimed at helping couples start a family together, noting that struggles with infertility can impact each partner differently.

"We look at ways the couples can participate in this process together," he said. "That could be making dietary changes together or charting cycles together. Too many times infertile couples become too focused on becoming pregnant and forget to respond to each other."

A couples-based approach is one that hits close to home for Yeung. He and his wife personally dealt with infertility issues due to his wife's severe endometriosis.

"My wife is the first to say that if a woman isn't getting pregnant, there is an underlying issue," Yeung said. "It is rare medically to find true, unexplained infertility. By digging into medical issues that may exist, we improve a woman's health and her fertility. It really in some ways is getting back to the basics of medicine - we have the problem of infertility and we are looking for the root causes."

Yeung says additional benefits of this approach to treating infertility are that the holistic approach aligns with Catholic values and can be much less draining financially.

"IVF and other fertility treatments can be expensive and cost-prohibitive for many couples," he said. "Because what we are doing is treating existing, underlying medical issues, it is covered by insurance."

The SLUCare Restorative Fertility Clinic is located at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - St. Louis, 1031 Bellevue Ave, Suite 400. For more information call 314-977-7455.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious diseases.

SLUCare Physician Group is the academic medical practice of Saint Louis University, with more than 500 health care providers and 1,200 staff members in hospitals and medical offices throughout the St. Louis region. SLUCare physicians are among the most highly trained in their fields - more than 50 specialties in all - and are national and international experts, renowned for research and innovations in medicine.

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