March 10, 2010 // Local

New options offer healthy alternative to contraception, IVF

By Diane Freeby

NEW HAVEN — Treating women’s fertility as a health issue, and not a disease to be “fixed” is one of the messages FertilityCare Centers of America, Inc., (FCCA) hopes to share during the upcoming Worldwide FertilityCare Week, March 21-27.

FCCA is a nonprofit organization that has been established to promote the Creighton Model and the new reproductive science of NaProTechnology. The centers affiliated with FCCA provide professional instruction, teaching women to be aware of and understand the information provided by their bodies at various times of each month. NaProTechnology uses the biomarkers of the Creighton Model to recognize health and disease. Tracking these biomarkers provides valid information for the woman and her physician. 

According to FCCA, this system not only teaches couples about a woman’s fertility, it provides a natural system for planning and avoiding pregnancy while viewing children as gifts from God. It also assists the couples in learning how to mutually value, respect and understand their combined fertility. 

The Creighton Model was developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Instead of prescribing the Pill to women seeking to postpone pregnancy, Hilgers developed a medically-approved method of using external observations to indicate what’s going on inside the body. He trained others in this method, providing teachers who could take the Creighton Method to the people and explain how to chart. In 1985 he founded The Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb., where he compiled all his scientific data. Hilgers has now taught on every continent and is able to take the Creighton method offsite to teach others, who will teach others.

Theresa Schortgen is one such teacher in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. She left her career in nursing 20 years ago to raise her five children. Having experienced two second-trimester miscarriages, Schortgen says she was “most interested” when she learned about the Creighton model. 

“By using a system of charts and stamps to indicate different parts of the cycle, we can pinpoint a woman’s ovulation,” explains Schortgen. “A physician can then do blood testing to determine progesterone and estrogen levels. This helps with several things besides achieving or avoiding pregnancy. It is also a PMS indicator and can help with other health concerns.”

Schortgen says Hilgers knew there was a correlation between a woman’s health and her fertility. The Creighton Method is helpful in dealing with menopausal issues as well. “Even single women can chart,” continues Schortgen. “They may have irregular cycles, and doctors know this and they’re beginning to see the correlation. Dr. Hilgers doesn’t have enough scientific evidence yet, but women who have charted for years and developed cancer later on in life, he’s going back and looking at their charts … what can we see here to use as a preventative measure, because we know there’s got to be something. Women who have a lot of estrogen, there’s a stronger correlation to all of our cancers, right? And when a woman has cancer, what do they do? They put her on a medication to bring down the estrogen levels. And cancer hasn’t ever been shown to grow on any progesterone cells, so in Creighton he increases the progesterone levels with progesterone.”

Schortgen says Hilgers does not use a lot of estrogen in his treatments. She says they work with the progesterone because it is safe and highly effective. “We have many women who’ve had reductions of PMS,” explains Schortgen. “After using progesterone, (those symptoms) are completely gone. So we’ve been able to look at PMS in an intellectual way as opposed to chuckling and laughing about PMS. “

“The progesterone he uses is bio-identical,” she continues, “made in a pharmacy and compounded naturally. He doesn’t use artificial (progesterone) like you would find in the Pill. Those are not identical to the structure of a woman’s progesterone cell structure.”

Schortgen, who teaches in the Fort Wayne area, explains the Creighton process. She says a woman first sees a teacher to learn how to chart her signs of fertility. Once she charts for two months and is comfortable, she sees the physician. He looks at the charts and is able to schedule a blood test to determine the woman’s hormone levels.

“We know progesterone level rises after ovulation,” says Schortgen. “Doctors look for this across the board. Dr. Hilgers has developed a different way of looking at it. Progesterone levels should be at a certain level at certain times afterward. He knows how long those levels should stay up and when they should fall.”

Dr. Patrick Holly, M.D., is a Creighton Model Medical Consultant is in the Fort Wayne area. Schortgan says he treats many Creighton clients, and based on the progesterone readings, is able to quickly identify threat of miscarriage and intervene.

The FCCA Web page,, offers more information on the process as well as where couples can find teachers and physicians in their area. The site also offers information on speaking engagements during the upcoming week. Schortgen says there is significance in the timing of Worldwide Fertilitycare Week.
“It’s built around the feast of the Annunciation,” she explains, “because it raises our awareness to the theological beauty of a woman’s fertility.”

For more information:
Worldwide FertilityCare Week 
Fort Wayne area Creighton Model teachers:
Liara Holly (260) 414-4801 
Jackie Oberhausen (260) 414-1634 
Theresa Schortgen (260) 494-6444

Fort Wayne Creighton Model physician:
Patrick M. Holly, M.D., CNFPMC 
Phone: (260) 486-6197

Speaking Engagements in the Fort Wayne area for Worldwide Fertility Care Week:
• St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne, Saturday, March 20, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the Mother Teresa Room
• St. John the Baptist, New Haven, Monday, March 22, at 7 p.m. in the community center
• IPFW, Wednesday, March 24, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Walb Student Union main level Health Fair
• IPFW Friday, March 26, 12-1 p.m. in G21 Walb Student Union Basement Level
• St. Jude, Fort Wayne, Saturday, March 27, 9-10 a.m. Room C in the parish office 

South Bend area Creighton Model teachers:
Mary Ramsey (269) 687-0200
Terry Steinmetz  (574) 309-1572
Danniel Cline  (574) 335-2445
South Bend Creighton Model physicians:
Dr. Brad Ferrari
(269) 687-0200, ext. 1644
Dr. Charlie Groves
(219) 326-5060

Speaking engagement in the South Bend area for Worldwide Fertility Care Week:
The Diocesan Marriage and Family Conference at Notre Dame on Saturday, March 20, will feature a presentation by Dr. Brad Ferrari and Mary Ramsey, P.A. entitled “NaProTechnology: New Hope for Couples with Infertility.”

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