Bradford nutritionist Kristen Mihaly was already looking for a holistic-minded OBGYN when she met Dr. Sarah Bascle of CMC’s Women’s Wellness & Fertility Center in 2017. The practice was brand new and the first (and still the only) in New England to be based on NaProTECHNOLOGY—an approach to women’s reproductive health that uses natural methods and restorative surgery to treat conditions.
“I saw Dr. Bascle give a talk at a local college about natural family planning. It was exactly what my clients at Nourish (Holistic Health & Nutrition) needed and it was exactly what I needed,” she recalls. “I started referring my clients after seeing Dr. Bascle myself.”
Two years later, Mihaly got married. She and her husband, Dean, were ready to start a family right away. Mihaly, however, had a history of endometriosis and “after my first surgery in Boston in 2014 I was told there was a really slim chance I’d have a baby.” Soon after her wedding, the painful symptoms that plagued her years earlier returned.
Dr. Bascle referred Mihaly to her practice partner, Dr. Damian Olsen, one of just two dozen surgeons in the country who is fellowship trained in surgical NaProTECHNOLOGY. He worked with Mihaly to chart her symptoms and cycles and even tried progesterone. After an ultrasound showed ovarian cysts, Dr. Olsen recommended surgery.
Surgical NaProTECHNOLOGY seeks to treat the range of underlying conditions that cause reproductive health problems, including infertility, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), recurrent miscarriage and severe PMS. “Often, the symptoms of these conditions are treated, overlooking the conditions themselves,” says Dr. Olsen. “With this approach, the underlying cause of a woman’s condition is found and corrected, restoring her fertility and allowing her to achieve pregnancy naturally.”
Endometriosis happens when the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus. That tissue can attach to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other organs in the pelvis or abdomen, causing pain, heavy bleeding, ovarian cysts, and even infertility. A common surgical treatment is ablation, which burns the endometriosis and often leaves scar tissue that can inhibit fertility and allow the endometriosis to return.
With the surgical NaProTECHNOLOGY approach to endometriosis, “I remove the endometriosis with excision using techniques to reduce adhesions or scar tissue,” says Dr. Olsen. “The goal is to restore the woman’s full reproductive function.”
The same goes for treating PCOS, a hormonal disorder where the ovary is enlarged with too many follicles. In addition to irregular ovulation, PCOS can also cause infertility, weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth. The condition is most often managed with birth control but Dr. Olsen first attempts to correct underlying imbalance with hormone treatments and supplements. If further intervention is needed, Dr. Olsen performs a unique procedure called ovarian wedge resection, which removes a portion of the ovary and reconstructs it with little or no scar tissue. “The surgery effectively resets the ovary’s communication with the brain and returns the hormone levels to normal.”
Mihaly considered all of her options and got a second opinion from an IVF practice. “I feel like they looked at my body in a very black and white way,” she recalls. “The clinic wanted to work around my cysts and give me IVF treatments. Dr. Olsen looked at me in a complete way. His mentality was to get to the root cause.”
Kristen had surgery on August 4th, 2020. “It was an emotionally difficult time. I had full faith in Dr. Olsen but I was really scared about what the outcome would be.”
It turns out she had nothing to worry about. Dr. Olsen removed all of the endometriosis, scar tissue, and cysts in a six-hour long surgery. “I got pregnant five weeks later. There is no doubt in my mind that if it weren’t for Dr. Olsen and this practice, it wouldn’t have happened. Holding (my baby) Henry on August 4th, 2021…we had no clue a year ago. It’s insane to think what a difference a year can make.”
“I feel very privileged and blessed to know what I know and do what I do,” says Dr. Olsen. “If it weren’t for my medical training and (Catholic) faith, I would not know about this holistic approach to women’s health or be able to offer these unique treatments that cooperate with a woman’s natural reproductive cycle.”
The gratitude is mutual. “Everyone at the practice, they all deeply care,” says Mihaly. “‘Thank you’ isn’t enough for what everyone did. It sounds cliché, but they’ve changed our lives.”
As published in the Union Leader on August 15, 2021