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“It’s a breath of fresh air”: Vera clinic offers women a Catholic, holistic approach to infertility

Vera Health and Fertility opened their doors this past April to help women struggling with infertility or other women’s health issues in accordance with Catholic teaching. 

Dr. Sarah Pederson, OBGYN MD, founded the practice after wanting more out of women’s healthcare. 

“A huge part of women’s healthcare is women say, ‘I feel like no one’s heard me,’” Pederson said. 

Pederson spends an hour to an hour and a half with patients at the first appointment, diving deep into all aspects of their health, including stress, diet, sleep, exercise, spirituality and more. 

“We get to know them very well and catch things no one catches,” she said. “The whole goal is to learn about a person’s body.” 

Vera Health and Fertility then tailors a specific plan to each patient, including lifestyle changes, medicines and supplements, and surgical procedures if necessary. They are skilled in Natural Family Planning methods of fertility awareness, hormone monitoring, and NaProtechnology, a method of fertility and reproductive care developed by Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, of the Saint Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb.

“The goal is to feel your wholest, happiest self,” Pederson said.

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Vera offers holistic fertility care in line with Catholic principles. According to their website, they treat a variety of conditions including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids and polyps, and several other hormonal and reproductive issues.

In traditional healthcare, many women experiencing infertility or reproductive issues come to a place where they feel limited in their options, and IVF is the main solution presented, Pederson said. 

“At Vera, Dr. Pederson dives deep to find the root cause of what actually is going on, and works to fix the problem,” said Annie Miller, Vera’s practice manager.  “It’s a breath of fresh air to women who are used to receiving birth control like a band-aid from their normal OBGYN”.

Women also come to Vera for painful cycles or women’s health concerns. Sometimes a woman might think the pain she experiences is normal, Pederson said. 

“You don’t need to power through,” Pederson said.  “All you have is the experience of your own body.”

“The kind of care she does really is life-changing,” Miller added. “So many women suffer, and they suffer silently.”

Miller and Pederson previously worked together at Bella Health + Wellness, a Catholic family medicine practice offering natural care options based in Englewood, Colo. After leaving at different times, Pederson reached out to Miller to help her start Vera. Mariah Felts is also part of the founding team and serves as the medical coordinator. 

Vera does not take insurance, allowing Pederson to work outside the standard healthcare system and spend more time with her patients. Patients are also welcome to text her or call her at any time. She says this is especially helpful for NFP charting, as couples can get advice or a question answered in real-time. 

Pederson said she is able to push some of the boundaries in the industry standard. For example, the industry standard is to not do a full workup on a woman until she has had three miscarriages, or to ask a couple to try to conceive for 12 months before looking into infertility issues.

“Some of these things I just wanted to do my own way,” Pederson said.

If a couple conceives, Vera supports the woman through the beginning of the pregnancy with an hour-long visit right after a positive pregnancy test, and 6, 8, 10, and 12-week appointments with ultrasounds. Then the woman graduates from Vera and moves to prenatal care. 

“You can really see Christ in her and I think that’s something that’s very unique in this field,” Miller said about Pederson. “The whole infertility journey is so vulnerable and hard. So to be cared for by a physician that really sees you, knows you and loves you is something women don’t get in healthcare.”

The name of the clinic, “Vera”, comes from the Latin “veritas”, meaning truth, as the clinic aims to get to the bottom of why women are experiencing infertility.   

Pederson has two rules for her patients.

“You’re not allowed to give up on your body,” Pederson said. “You’re not allowed to worry at home without letting me know.”

“Her goal is just to help women feel better, leave better, not more stressed or more anxious,” Miller said. “Just as Christ heals, she heals also in a different way through him.” 

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