My name is Dr. Carissa Doherty and I have been a Naturopathic Doctor since 2002. As a teenager, I was plagued with horrible cystic acne that impacted every part of my life. Through my own health journey I discovered the power of natural medicine and have worked diligently, both personally and professionally, to address the root cause of health problems and diseases. Naturopathic medicine is a unique system of health care that identifies underlying weaknesses and treats people on an individual basis. What I have come to learn is that we can identify people at risk for fertility issues very early on in life.
For example, my severe teenage acne, was a huge clue that I would struggle with getting pregnant. After seeing huge changes in my health with alternative treatments, I was committed to becoming a Naturopathic Doctor and wanted to open a multi-disciplinary wellness clinic. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph getting my degree in Biomedical Toxicology. My degree in Biomedical Toxicology gave me the necessary background to specialize in women’s health and fertility because of the intricate knowledge of biochemical pathways that govern hormone regulation. I then spent 4 years in a full time naturopathic program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.
My dream of being the chief medical officer of a multi-disciplinary wellness clinic came true in 2005 when my sister Dr. Sonya Doherty and I opened our clinic and life was very much the way I imagined it until one horrible day my wonderful gastroenterologist found a carcinoma tumour in my bowel. My father passed away from colon cancer at age 53 and this was a HUGE wake-up call to dramatically reduce inflammatory foods in my diet and begin to exercise more. Running a health clinic became my priority and I had slipped off the wellness path which is so easy to do in this stressed out busy world.
Reinvigorated, I spent the next year planning my wedding and thinking about babies. My first year of marriage was much like many couples struggling with infertility. Stressful and scary. After months and months of not being able to conceive, I went to my MD and was diagnosed with endometriosis. Instead of trusting where my health journey had taken me, I panicked. I was scared that I would never get pregnant. It took me 3 months to even tell my husband and family about the diagnosis. I really was paralyzed with fear. Then slowly, through conversations with some other wonderful natural health practitioners, I started to put my faith back into Naturopathic Medicine and developed what has now become my Natural Fertility Program. Since 2005, I have helped hundreds of couples to conceive. It has become my passion.
During my struggle to get pregnant, I pulled out dairy, 100%, and discovered for me, the devil was in the milk as the courageous author Keith Woodford proposes in his book, “The Devil in the Milk”. It took 6 months of dairy free, with an intense natural “clean-up” of my hormone mess and detoxification pathway impairments, but I was able to get pregnant with my beautiful baby girl Katya Ellen. It is important to me to share this story, especially the tough parts, because even if natural fertility plans don’t help everyone, I believe they have the ability to help the majority of couples dramatically improve their ability to conceive.
In Canada, it is estimated that 7-9% of people are infertile. About one third of infertility cases are due to male factors, one third are due to female factors, and the remainder are caused by a combination of male and female factors. In females, problems with ovulation are the most common causes of infertility. Other causes of infertility include: blocked fallopian tubes resulting from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or endometriosis; surgery from ectopic pregnancy, uterine fibroids; and problems with the uterus. Factors that increase women’s risk of infertility include: age, stress, poor diet, athletic training, being overweight or underweight, tobacco smoking, alcohol, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and hormonal problems.
I have been under the care of a Naturopathic Doctor and/or using natural therapies for over 20 years….I started really young. I truly believe all my work has lead me to have less health issues and to be able to tackle the big ones that I have run into. I’m pretty sure I am one of those women who would have been incredibly sick in their 20’s, with a steady decline in health as I aged. I believe whole heartedly that I would not be a mother – of now 2 beautiful children – if it had not been for the lessons I learned about health and wellness along the way, with a healthy dose of environmental toxicity and detoxification pathway knowledge attained in university.
The problem with preventative medicine is that you never know what would have happened had you not taken action. I hope the information in this website will start you thinking about what you can do to change and improve both your health and fertility.