Women with infertility can seek several methods of treatment

When it comes to infertility, sometimes the one-size-fits all approach doesn’t work for everyone. To get help with infertility it can require a lot of hormone treatments, which isn’t always the answer. Enter in the Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility — an organization dedicated to giving other women various options, other than or in addition to — the stereotypical hormone shots.

Ann Zee, founder of the Holistic Institute says “what I do here is I do a little bit of acupuncture and consultations. Couples want to know how traditional Chinese medicine, how acupuncture, how massage, nutrition, how counselling can help them.”

A New Career

Zee spoke about why she got into fertility, “Very early in my career, in fact my first patient I ever had, was an IVF patient. My clinic, I would say two-thirds of our patients are also patients at the regional fertility clinic.”

“So I remember the very first patient I ever had was an IVF patient and I was feeling really scared and overwhelmed thinking that I would not be able to help this woman.”

Zee says that last summer made for an incredible experience, because when she met that first patient for coffee she was able to hear all about her now-11-year-old son.

“I like to bridge the gap between Eastern medicine and Western medicine. I like to talk about howAn inside look at the peaceful and welcoming NW location of the Holistic Institute.
Photo by Jessica Brady
traditional Chinese medicine and other modalities can complement their specific medicine,” explains Zee. With that in mind, Zee always receives all of her clients’ previous medical history and where they are in the process — especially during treatments of IVF due to the hormone injections.

Zee spent four years studying traditional Chinese medicine and is a certified practitioner, but says it was her experiences and other knowledge that led her into infertility. It wasn’t something that she knew she would do, but that it was meant to be.

What are the statistics?

Often, patients want to instantly know success rates and the statistic on resulted pregnancy. Zee spoke about how statistics aren’t always what are important, and that she doesn’t keep those numbers. “I know the Regional Fertility Clinic keeps the numbers on pregnancies and live births.

Maybe this is more of a holistic stat, but we keep track of how people find us, and 80 per cent was web-search now 80 per cent is word of mouth. I was even able to open up a self-location [second location]. When you talk about the stats fertility is such an umbrella term. We treat each different case.”

Zee doesn’t keep statistics and says people are so wrapped up in results — being results driven when they should be solution-driven, and sometimes the numbers aren’t always the answer.
A Cochrane review stated that acupuncture shows a “beneficial effect on the live birth rate; however, with the present evidence this could be attributed to placebo effect and the small number of women included in the trials. Acupuncture should not be offered during the luteal phase in routine clinical practice until further evidence is available from sufficiently powered RCTs.”

The mind and body connection

Cheri Woolsey is a psychologist from the Inspired Minds Wellness Centre and says, “I meet with people who are moving through the fertility process.”

Woolsey who receives some clients from the Holistic Institute, says it varies on who she meets and when she meets them. Each client has a different story and is in a different stage in the process.
“I have so much passion for each and every one of them regardless of the outcome. Sometimes it is The welcoming banner at the Holistic Institute. A photo seen around both locations and on their website.
Photo by Jessica Brady
very heart-breaking. I’ve worked with a lot of people who have had to make a lot of decisions whether or not to continue down this path,” says Woolsey.

Woosley says every person has value in what they need and what they are looking for with this experience.

“I think everybody starts out in life with a concept of what their journey is going to look like and when that doesn’t follow what they think, it causes so much grief,” says Woolsey.
“I do believe there is such a mind-body connection. When you are overstressed, in that fight or flight mode, or your cortisol is high, it’s impacting hormones, it’s impacting neuro-transmitters, and I think everything works together. Where I find I can be helpful is to come in and help people quiet their mind and process their stress and go back into that parasympathetic nervous system.”
The parasympathetic nervous system is the system within the body that regulates normal life within the body — including sexual arousal.

Massage Therapy

Another service offered by the Holistic Institute is massage therapy. The goal is to increase blood flow and circulation.

Massage therapist Kimmy Berthelette says why she does what she does, “fertility is stressful. Massage is number one to de-stress. I see women where intercourse with their partners is like a mission and it’s no longer natural. [Massage] is to bring in the calm”

Fertility is delicate says Berthelette. “I had a client today and it was her fifth round of IVF and it [worked]. I had to sit down, because you become so connected to your clients.”

With two locations and 16 employees, the Holistic Institute is a place that looks for alternative ways to increase fertility. They also offer yoga, nutrition and prenatal chiropractic services.

For more information please visit IVFinCalgary.

jbrady@cjournal.ca