By Craig Turczynski
We had the opportunity to display and market our services at the FACTS (Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science) and AAPLOG (American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians & Gynecologists) meetings, which took place on April 5-7 in Indianapolis.
Without getting into the details of the logistics of travel, reminiscent of the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, we wanted to make you aware of this activity. Connecting with healthcare professionals was our primary goal. Being there not only reinforced our mission to people who are aware of BOMA, but there were numerous individuals who now know about us who had no idea previously. The conferences were inter-faith, and it is encouraging to see both Catholic and Protestant brethren involved in the pro-life mission. Faith aside, the most important factor is the solid science that continues to reinforce the healthier alternatives to conventional medicine’s promotion of birth control, assisted reproductive technology, and abortion. Legislative issues were also discussed along the lines of healthcare professional’s right to practice medicine according to their conscience. The federal update presentation given by Roger Severino from the HHS office was enlightening, and the HHS department’s recent efforts to protect religious freedom and the right of conscience in healthcare was encouraging. The full agenda of AAPLOG can be viewed here: https://conference.aaplog.org/.
There were many like-minded organizations who also exhibited at the conferences and opportunities for key strategic partnerships were explored.
Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.
Director of Development and Strategic Planning. BOMA
Attending the 19th Annual Catholic Men’s Conference in Worcester, MA
by Jennifer McManus
What a blessing to participate in the 19th Annual Catholic Men's Conference in Worcester, MA. During the vendor hall time between speakers, my husband and I spoke to men both younger and older, who looked at our printed materials and signed up for the BOMA newsletter so as to be more informed on NFP and BOM in particular. Some were happy to pass along the Preachable Message CD to their pastors and/or listen to it themselves. We also heard great things about the book The Estrogeneration. We were told it is a must-read book but to get ready to not put it down once you start.
We discussed the use of NFP for women with irregular cycles and that Creighton or sympto-thermal methods are not the only methods. We hope that the sharing of our message will encourage men at this conference, as well as bring hope for infertility with other couples in their lives. During the speaker sessions, vendors were asked to leave the hall, at which time, we were able to connect with other vendors. One woman is involved with the Catholic Medical Center in NH. There may be a possibility to be interviewed for a Catholic radio show called "This is the Day."
The nurses who work at a crisis pregnancy center were interested in the medical webinar series in May. There were also present representatives from three seminaries. One already had the Preachable Message book in their library and said how good it is. The other two were happy to have it and expressed great appreciation for the gift of both book and CD. I personally was asked to give a presentation to my diocesan deaconate program. We hugged some friends, were happily approached by strangers, and may never know how far our efforts or information may go.
By Eileen Wood
The Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16)
Then the word of the Lord came to [Elijah]. “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”
So, he arose and went to Zarephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a pitcher; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Fear not; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the pitcher of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”
And she went and did as Elijah said; and she, and he, and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the pitcher of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which he spoke by Elijah.
The topic of money is something that tends to be quite difficult for most people to talk about in our society. In fact, people will often reveal their contraceptive mentality with perfect strangers in the checkout line at the grocery store (Saying things like “You have HOW many kids? I got my girl, I got my boy, I got no more” or “Two and through!”) and yet won’t share their annual salary with their closest friends or siblings.
As uncomfortable as finances might be to discuss, it is an important topic in many ways. God calls us to be generous in all areas of our lives, including our time, talent, and treasures. For those of us who are using and teaching the Billings Ovulation Method®, we have already struggled through the concept of being generous with our fertility and cooperating with God in bringing forth new life. But what about being generous in all areas of our life?
Tithing is generally thought of as giving a tenth of your income to charity. For those who strictly follow it, that tenth comes right off the top, even before Uncle Sam takes his share. Then, typically your local church will get half of your tithe while the other half goes to various charities of your choice.
My husband and I have handled our charitable giving in different ways over the years. At times, we just picked a random amount to give to church each week and went up a few dollars annually when we got a raise. At other times, we approached it more rigorously and looked at our yearly gross income, calculating 10% of that and compared it to how much we were giving. We found that, as generous as we thought we were being, it was well below 10%. We then worked slowly to correct that.
A missionary priest once put all of this in perspective for me by saying, “Does 10% of your money belong to God? No, 100% of your money belongs to God. He is just gracious enough to let you keep 90% of it. So, if you don’t give back that 10%, then you are stealing from God!” His words were tough and challenging, but they always stuck with me.
A funny thing about living life God’s way is that it actually becomes easier and even enjoyable. So, if you decide how much money to give away to charity off the top, you have already detached yourself from that money in your mind. It is as if it’s no longer yours. (Think of it like tax withholdings taken out of your paycheck so you don’t ever think of that money as being yours from the start. Only in this case, God doesn’t force you to give like the government does.) Now, you can have some real fun with it. Yes, fun! It becomes like a game.
Let’s think in round numbers. If your household earns $100,000/year, you are talking about $10,000 in charitable giving. Half of that should go to support your local church, meaning $5,000 or about $100/per week will go in the collection basket. But what about that other $100 per week? Well, that goes to an appropriate charity of your choice. Requests for donations are always coming in the mail, through email, and from family and friends. If you have children in Catholic schools, there will be many opportunities that way as well. And please don’t forget about BOMA!
Now, instead of feeling the stress of desperately “looking” for money from your budget to donate, you can just have fun giving away “someone else’s money” since it isn’t yours anymore!
In the biblical passage at the beginning of this article, God, through Elijah asks the widow to give away everything, even down to her last morsel of food. In obedience, she does what is asked and is rewarded many times over. Always remember, God will not be outdone in generosity. After all, He has all the money in the world!
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21
By Eileen Wood
Did you know there is a little-known gene found in all of us that directs the body to produce an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR)? If not, please read on. This topic can have huge implications for your clients and maybe even yourself since almost half of the population is affected to some degree.
Folate is vital for the body to make DNA, RNA, and to metabolize amino acids, which provide the body with energy, break down food, and contribute to growth and tissue repair. It is also essential for pregnant women in order to prevent neural tube defects. A critical point to note is that, contrary to common understanding, folate and folic acid are not the same thing. Folate occurs naturally in foods. Folic acid is synthetically made and added to vitamins and food.
In 1998, the federal government mandated the addition of folic acid to almost all of our processed food supply, especially grains and cereals. The idea was to ensure that pregnant women would get enough folate to prevent neural tube birth defects. This campaign seems to have been successful to some degree. But what about for the people with this MTHFR gene mutation, who cannot break down folic acid and convert it to folate? For them, the folic acid becomes a toxin. It eventually results in an abnormally elevated homocysteine level, which can lead to heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cancer fetal abnormalities, neural tube defects, placental abruption, and pre-eclampsia.
Recently, I was reviewing the history of one of my clients*. She had three babies, all born prematurely at 30 weeks, 30 weeks, and 33 weeks, respectively*. Her first delivery had the further complication of a placental abruption. I asked her, “Have you been tested for MTHFR?” to which she promptly replied, “Yes, I am compound heterozygous."
In this woman’s case, she was diagnosed one year prior to her second pregnancy and began taking folate at that time. She also went gluten-free and stopped eating other grains, especially those enriched with folic acid. It didn’t seem to be enough to prevent her second premature delivery at 30 weeks, but at least she was spared a second placental abruption. Also, her daughter was in the hospital for three weeks fewer than her older brother. Finally, after some additional time of being on a healthy, folic acid-free diet, her third pregnancy lasted an additional critical three weeks.
The MTHFR gene can have either no mutations at all or a couple of them. These mutations are dubbed “variants.” The two most common variants are MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C. Being compound heterozygous means that my client has one of each variant. There are many different combinations that can occur. Typically, the more variants, the more potential health problems.
As Billings teachers, it is important to be on the lookout for the signs of MTHFR variants in your clients when taking their history, especially if they are struggling to conceive or have had repetitive miscarriages. Other red flags include folate deficiency, autoimmune diseases, chronic anxiety or depression, and elevated homocysteine levels.
Testing may also be done simply, at home, by ordering a saliva test such as those from DNA testing companies. One example is 23andMe (www.23andme.com).
Another resource is Dr. Jose Fernandez, an NFP-only physician with JMJ Family Practice which has offices in Kissimmee and Melbourne, Florida. Dr. Fernandez routinely tests for the genetic defect when working with patients who have infertility or frequent miscarriages. “I've been ordering MTHFR in my practice for the last four to five years. I was prompted to do this because of lectures I had heard detailing this genetic defect as possibly being involved in not only recurrent miscarriage, but infertility in general.”
How common is the defect? Dr. Fernandez says from his patient experience, he finds it in up to 40% of his patients. This number matches the estimates generally cited in the literature.
As Fernandez explains, “As we have long known, some birth defects are preventable by maintaining proper levels of folate and homocysteine. That is particularly important with women who have the MTHFR mutation. Replacement should occur by substituting folic acid supplements with those containing methyl folate or folinic acid instead. Dosages can begin with 400 to 800 mcg up to 3 to 5 mg. When considering MTHFR genetic variants it is important to also take into consideration other genetic variants. This can become quite complex and either a patient or practitioner should consider consultation with someone well versed in this arena.”
Remember, no natural foods have folic acid in them. When occurring in nature, Vitamin B9 is in the form of folate. However, when artificially supplemented, it is often in the form of folic acid. The bottom line is that this is just another reason to eat wholesome, non-processed foods. Some foods which are naturally high in folate are legumes, asparagus, leafy greens, beans, eggs, beets, citrus fruit, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, nuts and seeds, bananas, avocados, and beef liver.
To reach Dr. Fernandez, call his office at (407) 935-9012 or visit his website: www.jmjfamilypractice.com.
* Note: The client has given permission for her story to be anonymously printed in this newsletter and website.
Dr. Mary Martin consults with Dr. James Brown during a WOOMB conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Q. When did you first learn about the Billings Ovulation Method® and what was your next step?
I believe I was first exposed to the Billings Ovulation Method in July of 1999. My 18-year civil marriage had ended in 1998. I sought out the advice of faithful priest, Fr. Jack Riley, who reassured me that I could not go back to the nonsacramental marriage as it was. I was long overdue for confession (it had been 13 years) and he said, "by the way, you're not prescribing contraceptives or performing sterilizations, are you?" Fr. Riley made it my penance to research whether oral contraceptives were potentially abortifacients. I already knew that they were, but lacked the courage and grace to act on the conviction until I attended several conferences which were designed to convince doctors like me that it was possible not to prescribe. Of course, the first physician I met was not an obstetrician, so I argued with him publicly at such an event and remained skeptical until I attended a Billings teacher training in St. Cloud, MN taught by Australian senior teachers Marian Corkill and Gillian Barker. As Marian and Gillian presented, light bulbs went off continuously, and I took advantage of the materials and resources available, including traveling to Melbourne, Australia. Traveling there for the next world Billings conference allowed me to meet Drs. John and Evelyn Billings themselves and Professor Jim Brown.
Q. How did learning Billings impact your medical practice as a gynecologist?
Significantly, I had stopped prescribing contraception and performing sterilizations on March 1, 1999, but lacked a practical, simple method to recommend to patients as a substitute for contraception and sterilization. I was relying only on my residency training, which, while good, was comprised of "see and treat," without any attempt to determine the underlying problem which had created the symptoms. I've often said that learning the Billings Method made me a gynecologist. Soon, instead of being the radical feminist challenging poor Dr. Chris Kahlenborn at conferences (I subsequently apologized), I was the persistent questioner of reproductive endocrinologists in my own specialty, the guys who wrote the textbooks. It dawned on me, when I was told that my questions and methods were "archaic exercises in academic rigor," that perhaps grace was playing a larger role than any intelligence that I may have contributed.
Q. Over the years, you met some of the great pioneers such as Drs. John and Lyn Billings, Dr. James Brown, and Dr. Erik Odeblad. Tell us a bit about those experiences and a couple of the things you will never forget.
I brought home Professor Jim Brown's Ovarian Monitor from my first Melbourne experience and relied on his personal guidance to perform the testing in my practice over the course of two years. I was fortunate to spend time alone with him on each of several visits to Australia. The time simply flew by as we excitedly queried each other and, bless his heart, Professor Brown always made it seem as if he were also learning something from me. On the last visit, he sat front row at my lecture, and subsequently, at our prescribed private meeting, said that he wished he had 20 more years to live, as he was sure that Pilar Vigil and I were really "on to something" with the role of insulin resistance and its effect on ovulation. Sadly, he predicted at that meeting, we were not likely to meet again on this sphere, given his advancing age. I am so grateful that he was the mentor who influenced me most.
I had contacted Erik Odeblad by fax or telephone, as I recall, and subsequently flew to Chicago to accompany him to the University of Illinois, where I had studied medicine. He planned to meet fellow Nobel nominee and recipient, Paul Lauterbur, PhD chemist. While both Odeblad and Lauterbur were nominated for their use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Professor Lauterbur had applied MRI widely in the field of medicine, while Erik had used the technique to study the structure and function of cervical mucus. Never was there more contrast between the two! While Erik was polite and extremely modest, Lauterbur, and his physician wife, whom I remembered had given the most boring, inane nutrition lectures in my first year of medical school, were pompous, obnoxious atheists. I had just heard of Professor Odeblad's difficulties with the Swedish Board of Medicine while on our drive from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana. His religious views against abortion and later contraception prevented him from practicing in Sweden as an obstetrician-gynecologist. Fortunately, for all of us, Dr. Odeblad brought his wife and family to California to earn his PhD at Stanford University. We flew on to Dallas, where Erik gave a detailed lecture on intracellular transport of manganese and the properties of cervical mucus. Professor Odeblad entrusted me to edit a scientific paper in English and rewarded me with contributing authorship.
Q. You have also become a friend and colleague of Dr. Pilar Vigil of Santiago, Chile, who will be our final presenter in our upcoming Medical Professionals Seminar webinar series in May. Tell us about how her protocols for helping women with fertility problems are different than what physicians in the United States use.
Pilar and I met in Melbourne and, having both been mentored by Brown and Odeblad, had much in common. Pilar is also an obstetrician-gynecologist, but earned a PhD in human reproduction, continued her studies in the US at the Texas Institute of Reproductive Medicine with Emil Steinberger, MD, and continues research as well as clinical practice. As founder of the Reproductive Health Research Institute, Professor Vigil and colleagues have consistently published in peer-review journals and have compiled protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of the underlying endocrine problems which lead to gynecologic problems, infertility, and recurrent pregnancy loss.
Q. We hear that NaProTechology physicians use surgery to treat problems that you would not use surgery for. Please explain your approach and how it is different.
Professor Vigil is extensively published on the subject of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is caused by hyperandrogenism (excessive male hormones). NaProTechnology endorses surgical treatment of polycystic ovaries, which was abandoned by my specialty more than 30 years ago. Removing part of the ovary, as NaProTechnology recommends, in ovarian wedge resection, temporarily reduces androgen levels, but markedly reduces ovarian reserve and fails to correct the underlying endocrine reasons for hyperandrogenism. My specialty is still promulgating insulin resistance as the cause of PCOS. Whereas Professor Vigil has conclusively shown that insulin resistance is a feature of some, but not all PCOS, and that other endocrine causes, including hyperprolactinemia, hypercortisolemia, and acquired congenital adrenal hyperplasia are other causes.
Q. If a Billings teacher has a woman who needs a medical consultation, but is not able to travel to you, what is the process and fees for setting up a remote consultation with you? Is it helpful if they are charting using nfpcharting.com so you can see their chart?
Charts alone are rarely diagnostic, but the BIP and the lack of Peak are diagnostic clues. A combination of patient history, physical exam, laboratory values, and ultrasound are required for diagnosis. For those who are unable to travel to the office, telemedicine consults, nfpcharting.com, and labs can usually provide a diagnosis. As I have recently joined a primary care practice, and telemedicine is being rolled out on a new platform, telemedicine consults are on hold at the moment. I’ve had three infertility patients who I’ve worked with remotely conceive in the past 6 weeks. The protocols work.
Q. If you could meet with med students in their early phase of their education, what would you tell them?
Read and listen critically. Good training will instruct you on how to judge studies for bias. Remember that we are all products of our environments. Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions. Instead of just accepting the standard treatment of oral contraceptives to treat gynecologic problems, how about if we address the underlying cause and treat it?
Q. Finally, how do people contact you for consultations through your medical practice, Axis Healthcare?
The practice phone number is (918) 825-3777. I don't yet know the cost of the consultations. Axis Healthcare bills insurance.
Q. We appreciate that you’ve been an excellent resource. We are also grateful that you are one of our long time, faithful monthly donors. What can we do to spread the word more effectively to your fellow physicians?
The science of the BOM sells itself. Keep up the good work in exposing physicians to the science!
BOMA-USA provides education and training for The Billings Ovulation Method® which is a natural method of fertility management that teaches you to recognize the body's natural signs of fertility.