Not every patient wants to walk out of their physician’s office with a prescription in hand, says Ana Cherry, M.D., family practitioner at the Center for Primary Care, a NorthBay Affiliate, in Vacaville.
“There are a lot of options besides medicine,” she says. “I am willing to help my patients find out what those options may be, if that is their wish. If we can find a way to tune into the body’s natural defenses without the side effects that may come from pills or tablets, how great would that be?”
This is especially true for Dr. Cherry’s female patients who are struggling with symptoms of menopause, such as depression, wild mood swings or hot flashes. “Some of my menopausal patients have become so fed up, all they want is the Prozac,” she laughs, while others still want drug-free choices. The same may be true for some patients who are exploring alternatives to natural birth control or infertility.
To better serve these patients, Dr. Cherry recently underwent intensive training in “menstrual awareness,” or natural family planning as prescribed through the Creighton Model’s Fertility Care System (CrMS).
With this system, women are taught how to maintain a daily record of their menstrual cycles. The daily charting helps give a clearer picture of the woman’s individual cycle, by identifying times when she may be most fertile, or where she may be in her cycle, in terms of estrogen and progesterone levels.
Having a more accurate picture of hormone levels throughout a woman’s cycle could spotlight hormone deficiencies to determine if that was the cause of the problem, and if so, when would be the best time in the menstrual cycle to treat the symptoms with either doses of bioequivalent estrogen or progesterone.
“Natural family planning has a bit of a stigma,” Dr. Cherry admits, but she says it has been worth learning more about, especially if it can help her patients who follow certain religious practices or just want another way to care for their bodies. And, for Dr. Cherry, “since half the population is involved in family planning, I want to help not only those patients, but the other half of the population they interact with.”
For an appointment, call Dr. Cherry at the Center for Primary Care at (707) 624-7500.