Over 65 percent of couples who use NaProTechnology achieve pregnancy within two years, according to a study conducted by Hilgers’ Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb. Another study, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine in 2008, found that over 50 percent of infertile couples had a child after two years of following NaProTechnology protocol.
These success rates, along with fertility tracking apps and the popularization of holistic medicine, are pushing NaProTechnology beyond its Catholic roots. Doctors who now provide NaProTechnology have affiliations with public universities, Mayo Clinic, and a U.S. Navy hospital. In 2015, Poland’s national healthcare system cut IVF funding in favor of NaProTechnology. Hilgers’ network of over 300 FertilityCare centers has expanded to 10 countries on five continents in the last decade.
Still, the wider medical field has been slow to accept NaProTechnology. In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged the method in a patient pamphlet about “fertility awareness-based methods,” but the group does not advocate aggressively operating on endometriosis, a standard NaProTechnology practice.
Some doctors are reluctant to recommend NaProTechnology for women with a diminishing biological clock. Live birth rates for both IVF and NaProTechnology drop significantly for female patients over age 35. While a typical IVF cycle takes three months, some NaProTechnology patients spend years undergoing treatment. “While you are waiting for this to kick in, you’ve lost years off the biological clock, which is a high price to pay,” Dr. Richard Paulson of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine told Mother Jones.
These fears are real, and some NaProTechnology doctors worry that couples desperate for babies will ignore the medical conditions causing their infertility. Women with endometriosis, for example, wait an average of seven years for a diagnosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. “IVF often bypasses infertility problems in the production of a child,” said Canadian physician Tracey Parnell, the communications and development director at the London-based International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine. “The focus has become very narrow. We’ve stopped looking for the root causes of infertility.”