Physician explains fertility care, charting app

Cecilia Engbert
Assistant Editor

A family physician and expert in fertility health care said many women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) unnecessarily and explained cycle charting and PMS treatments to a crowded classroom Friday evening in Saints Cosmas and Damian Hall.

Brian Burke, a 2007 graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville and a physician who practices in Toronto, said there is an increased number of women who experience painful periods and PMS.

“Personally, in my practice, I want to offer women as much help as they can get to address these symptoms,” he said. “You don’t need to live with these types of symptoms.”

The main way Burke assists fertility patients is by using the ChartNeo app. This app makes it easy to chart cycles and share results with medical providers.

Burke has been teaching fertility awareness with his wife since 2009 and partnered with Phil Boyle, president of the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine, to develop the app.

Burke said charting is about women taking control of their health. Tracking cycles helps doctors like Burke to identify the root cause of infertility or PMS.

“I have never prescribed hormonal contraceptives, even for medical usages,” he said. “It’s always about getting to the root cause. … Painful periods are a symptom, not a disease. Infertility is a symptom, not a disease.”

Charting can show what remedies should be provided for a woman and at what point in her cycle it should be administered. Some treatments for physical and behavioral symptoms include both dietary improvement and medical assistance, Burke said.

Increases in vitamins like B vitamins, Vitamin C, zinc and magnesium, as well as exercise, sleep and stress management can all lead to increased fertility health, Burke said.

Medications such as progesterone supplementation are also ways to improve the fertility cycle.

“I’m a big ‘food is medicine’ person,” Burke said, warning against high intakes of processed foods and caffeine.

Burke said to watch out for caffeine because it raises cortisol, a steroid hormone that helps the body respond to stress.

He said caffeine causes the body to steal “building blocks” for things like progesterone and estrogen in order to build cortisol. This causes PMS or other symptoms.

Burke warned women to drink no more than one or two cups of coffee a day.

Burke said many students have fertility concerns. He said it is best to have those issues addressed before those students reach a state in life where they want to have children but realize they are unable to because of unhealthy cycles.

Burke went through several real cases involving clients and explained their charts and outcomes.

Prior to Burke speaking, Mary Nelson, director of the Steubenville Fertility Care Center, spoke on NaPro Technology and the Creighton charting method. She said she has taught it with successful results to many clients.

Following the talks, students watched Disney’s “Encanto” with Derek Doroski, who has a doctorate in biomedical engineering, and his three oldest children.

Junior Clara Ramirez said, “I think they were great ways to learn more about the woman’s body and to understand ways that we can keep healthy, because it’s not just about fertility; it’s about your health.”

During the evening, students had the opportunity to sign up to take part in a ChartNeo study, which would allow the a one-year free subscription to the app.