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For the one in six couples that experience fertility problems, the road to parenthood can be long, but patients who have undertaken Mater’s Fertility Services program to restore their reproductive health, have experienced positive pregnancy outcomes, with many couples achieving a pregnancy after having been on the ten-month program.
Thanks to funding from Golden Casket and Mater Foundation, Mater’s Fertility Service is the only clinical research site in Australia addressing such common issues using a natural fertility enhancement program.
Mater researcher and Mater Mothers’ Hospital Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Luke McLindon said the program had proven to be very successful.
“We need to treat infertility as a symptom, often with multiple underlying medical issues—not as a medical issue in itself,” Dr McLindon said.
“By introducing our patients to our program, we provide them with tools to achieve optimum health. These tools include dietetic advice on achieving optimal weight, lifestyle advice, psychological wellbeing, looking for underlying physical issues and solving them—endometriosis, poor ovulation, blocked tubes—and, while you are working on getting these things right, we also help you understand your cycle.
“Infertility is multi-factorial and tends to be complex so there are many factors to consider and adjust. It’s like a code that you need to crack, and every couple has a different code.
“When we introduce the program, we can optimise health, solve the things that were causing the infertility and achieve good pregnancy outcomes.”
Dr McLindon said that optimising health through the program also had ongoing benefits for the baby.
“If we can optimise health in pregnancy then we have found that the babies follow suit and tend to be healthier too.
One of Dr McLindon’s patients, 38-year-old Katrina Kane, had tried falling pregnant for many years without success, but after meeting with Dr McLindon and carefully working through multiple underlying issues she was delighted to discover she was pregnant with her first child.
“After being diagnosed with pre-invasive cervical cancer cells and having a procedure to remove these in 2016, I was told that I was likely to need a hysterectomy and that if I did want to have children
that I should prioritise this sooner rather than later, so I was given a referral to the Fertility Service at Mater.
“The Fertility Service found that my progesterone levels were very low so my chances of falling pregnant were very small and if I were to get pregnant there was a slim chance of me carrying a baby to full term.
“They helped me understand and chart my cycle, had dietitians available to help with making healthy eating choices and to keep me active.
“I was offered the opportunity to take part in an eight-month clinical trial where I had a 50 per cent chance of being put on progesterone to help, but I didn’t conceive during that trial.
“At the end of that trial I was able to join a six-month trial using progesterone, but two months into this trial I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis at laparoscopy. Following surgery to remove the endometriosis I resumed taking progesterone and within two months I was pregnant.
“The road to parenthood was a long one, which involved addressing multiple aspects to enable me to achieve a pregnancy and the Mater service was there to help me every step of the way.”
Katrina and her partner Chris are now doting parents to a beautiful baby girl, Bridie, who was born in May this year.
“I was really beginning to wonder if I would ever become a parent, and if it weren’t for all the help I received along the way, I don’t know that I would be holding Bridie in my arms today.
“She is the most precious gift,” Katrina said.
Dr McLindon said many people would have viewed Katrina’s story as impossible, but he was delighted that she managed to achieve such a positive outcome.
“This trial and others we are doing at Mater that aim to improve the outcomes for mothers and their babies, rely on the generosity of the community and donations like this one from The Lotto,” Dr McLindon said
Golden Casket General Manager Andrew Shepherd said he was delighted to be able to make a donation to Mater each year to help fund research projects that positively impact Queensland families.
“Through Mater’s world-class research we hope to positively improve the outcomes for Queenslanders wanting to start a family.
“During the past 28 years, Golden Casket has committed $14 million to supporting Mater’s research programs aimed at improving the health of Queenslanders.”
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