Meet Us Monday: Nicole Gilcrist, Office Manager

Nicole Gilcrist, office manager at Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver


Hi, my name is Nicole. I am the Office Manager at Genesis. You will normally speak to me prior to and meet me after your appointment. I’m the one with the accent. I am a newbie to Canada, having moved from Australia almost a year ago with my partner.

I began my working life at Reproductive Medicine Albury, a fertility clinic in my home town of Albury, which is a small country town of about 100,000 people. Albury is on the border of NSW and Victoria on the east side of Australia. Prior to joining Genesis I worked in a medico-legal practice in Sydney for 4 years, and while this was interesting, I always found myself looking for jobs within the fertility industry. 3 days after arriving in Vancouver, after a quick google search, I contacted Genesis. The rest is history. I have been with Genesis for almost a year now and having seen how far we have transformed in just a year is a testament to Dr. Kashyap and the hardworking staff we have at Genesis. Everyone from the Nurses to Admin to the Laboratory staff have a level of passion that is unparalleled to anything I have ever witnessed. It is easy to see how much they love what they do and how much they care about each and every patient that walks through the door.

When I am not working I love to have fun, my weekends generally consist of socializing with friends and exploring this beautiful city. I love a good adventure and enjoy meeting new and interesting people. Prior to my arrival in Vancouver I traveled to a variety of different countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and many others. I must confess I am 100% a nomad at heart and love being off the radar knee deep in foreign culture and most importantly food! I would quite happily travel 26 hours on a bus through mountainous Laos, if it meant I could eat authentic Laos street food.

While I love travelling and seeing new things, I do miss my family every single day. I have a very close relationship with my Mum, Dad and sister, but thanks to technology we speak almost every day.

Wellness Wednesday: Breath and Balance

holistic fertility health

Photo credit: Pat Young for Lululemon

By Karen Weggler of the Movement Studio

Balance is our true nature. We are comprised of 50 trillion cells all living together in the complex, cooperative community of our body; and that body inherently has the capacity to be balanced. Yet it often doesn’t feel that way in the day to day, busyness of life.

Breath is a fabulous way to connect to your body, your centre, and the balance that is our true nature.  We take approximately 26,000 breaths a day.  We breathe in, we breathe out.  Sounds simple, yet many of us don’t breathe well, having adopted less than optimal strategies due to stress or poor postural habits which affect our body and mind in a plethora of ways.  We need to reconnect with breath to allow it to become the friend it once was – one that we can take comfort in and go to for support both emotionally and physically.

Becoming connected to the breath asks that we become inquisitive and bring a quality of attention to it that is investigative and curious.  When we experience something differently – really feel and experience it in our bodies rather than just thinking it – we begin to change habits and develop new patterns that might better serve us.  Because the way we breathe, or don’t breathe, is integrally linked to our bodies neurologically, cellular and chemically, attending to it connects us with these systems in a healthier, more meaningful way.

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Fertility Food Friday: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

fertility dessert recipe strawberry rhubarb crumble

This crumble is so nutritious and full of fiber that you could eat it for breakfast or lunch.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Recipe by Krista A. Parr

Fresh local fruit season has begun! Hooray! Strawberry and rhubarb are typically amongst the first local fruits to emerge here on the West Coast, but you can make this recipe with whatever is in season as the summer progresses: blueberries & green apples, blackberries & raspberries, peaches & plums are all just a few of the delicious flavor combinations you can make. While technically a dessert, this crumble is so nutritious and full of fiber that you could eat it for breakfast or lunch, guilt-free, as part of your healthy fertility diet. Like all sour-tasting foods, rhubarb stimulates the liver and works as a gentle detoxifier and mild laxative; great for improving the digestive and elimination systems of the body and clearing space for healing of all kinds. The fertility benefits of strawberries are found mostly in their exceptionally high anti-inflammatory and ant-oxidant properties. Local strawberries are higher in all nutrients because they are allowed to remain growing on the plant until perfectly ripe, unlike imported fruits which are harvested unripe and often chemically-ripened after travelling long distances. Oats are a deeply nourishing food which supports the reproductive system as well as the kidneys, stomach, heart, lungs, and large intestine. Oats are high in selenium, zinc, B vitamins and protein and are a low-glycemic food.  They also have “adaptogen” properties,  meaning oats can improve the body’s resistance to stress and thus support the body’s own efforts to bring itself into a state of balance. May you all be nourished by the bounty of your local, seasonal fruits and the energy of the sun over the coming summer months!

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Meet Us Monday: Keith Whitacre, MSc., Embryologist

Dream – what would you give to be able to make someone’s dreams come true?  How would you feel if you could help fill someone’s life with joy?”……..I get to do this every day.

Keith Whitacre - Embryologist, Genesis Fertility Centre

Keith Whitacre, Embryologist: “Genesis has a very unique blend of high technology, highly skilled individuals, but most importantly, individuals who have not lost sight of the human side of what we do.”

My name is Keith Whitacre.  I have been an embryologist for the past 24 years.  I have been privileged to work at some fantastic in vitro fertilization (IVF) programs around North America in my career.   I have seen amazing changes in technology in the field of human embryology and assisted reproductive technologies in the past two decades.  Our knowledge of the physiology of the embryo has grown exponentially.  Most importantly, the advances we have made have been directly related to improved success for our patients.  It has been very exciting to be involved in a field that has been constantly changing, evolving and improving.

The one aspect of human embryology that has not changed, however, is the people.  We work with couples and individuals, every day, who have a dream.  For most of them it is a dream that they have been trying to realize for a long time.  They have been through frustrating and emotionally challenging times.  They all come to us with hope, a hope that we can help them realize one of the most important goals in life: to become parents.  The human side of what I do is probably the most rewarding part of my career.  It is so humbling to take part in helping someone reach their goal of being a parent.  Even after 24 years, I still find it absolutely awe inspiring when patients bring in their little “success stories”.  To see them holding their new baby, a brand new person, with so much potential, that started off as a few cells that I was able to help nurture and grow in the laboratory is one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I feel privileged to take part in helping our patients realize their dream.  I never lose sight of the fact that the human side of what we do is really the most important.

It takes extreme dedication from everyone involved to be successful.  Dedication from the patients and dedication from the staff are important keys to maximizing the chance of success.  In my career, I have found that the most successful programs have certain things in common, but probably the most important factor is dedication.  The drive and determination to do everything possible in order to be successful is absolutely essential.  This is probably true in every field, every career, and really, in life.  But it is a trait that is indispensable in the fertility field.  I have worked at many IVF programs and the team at Genesis is one of the best.  Genesis has a very unique blend of high technology, highly skilled individuals, but most importantly, individuals who have not lost sight of the human side of what we do.

Helping people realize their dreams.  What more could you ask for in a career, or really in life!

Fertility Food Friday: Savory Sunflower Seed Paté

Healthy fertility recipe sunflower seed pate

Sunflower seeds have more protein than beef, calorie for calorie.

Recipe by Krista A. Parr

The humble sunflower seed, in my opinion, does not get nearly enough attention in this world of glamorized almonds, hemp, flax and chia. Raw, organic sunflower seeds are not only a fraction of the price of those other nuts and seeds; they are also seriously nutrient-dense! Did you know that sunflower seeds have more protein than beef, calorie for calorie?  They are also an excellent source of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, folate and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. Given their diverse and impressive nutritional profile, sunflower seeds deserve a starring role in your fertility diet. The recipe below for Savory Sunflower Seed Paté is easy, delicious, versatile, and probably like nothing you have ever tasted before…

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Wellness Wednesday: Trying to Conceive? Here’s What Not To Do

By: Dr. Spence Pentland

Trying to Conceive? Here’s What Not To Do

To increase fertility, try to limit your diet to organic foods.

Everyone talks a lot about what to do to increase your chances of pregnancy but if you’re doing everything right and conception is still stalled, you might want to look at what not to do.

Toxins in our environment disrupt hormonal balance and may be contributing factors in infertility, preterm birth, irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCO/PCOS), endometriosis, premature ovarian failure, recurrent pregnancy loss, anxiety and of course cancer of all kinds.

Nowadays the food and drug industry is big business and you really have to look out for yourself. Be sure to read labels and go organic when possible. Some women have had success by going vegan but if that seems too extreme try your best to eat only free-range, organic fed animal products. When you can buy locally, by all means do. Not only are you getting fresher, less processed food, you are supporting the local economy and sending a message to the large corporations that care more about their bottom line than your health.

June 11, 2014 - Trying to Conceive Here’s What Not To Do

Obviously cigarettes, alcohol and drugs are a no-no. When we look to the not too distant past, smoking in places like maternity wards and airplanes was perfectly acceptable. We may shake our heads in disbelief but I imagine future generations will feel the same way about some of the things we put in our bodies.  From microwaving our food to drinking water from plastic containers and spraying perfume directly on our skin, I’m willing to bet that there will be a level of disbelief at our ignorance from future generations. The best advice really is to do your homework. If your doctor prescribes medication, ask about the side effects and take the initiative to read about them independently. If you see something on a food label and you’re not sure what it is, Google it. Knowledge is power!

By creating a clean environment in your own body you are making it more hospitable for a baby and increasing the health and well-being of your future child. That’s worth making some adjustments for, right? It may seem daunting at first, but start small and work your way up. When you have adjusted to changes, choose more to implement. Dedication to your healthier-living path will ensure you are doing your part in protecting your fertility.

Things to Avoid

Exposure to many toxins in our environment is inevitable, so whenever you can, minimizing exposure to the following is best:

  • Water that has been stored in a plastic container
  • Cleaning agents that contain artificial scent (laundry, body, hair, dish, household)
  • Dryer sheets and fabric softeners
  • Cosmetic lines that are not completely transparent about their ingredients
  • Food that has been microwaved– especially in plastic containers
  • Domestic home and garden pesticides
  • Canned foods (unless specified non-BPA lining)
  • Phthalates (used in cosmetics and to soften plastic)

Meet Us Mondays: Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN; Director of Clinical Operations

Dr. Susan Lockhart, director of clinical operations at Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver

Meet the latest addition to our team, Dr. Susan Lockhart. She joins us as our director of clinical operations.

As the newest member of the Genesis team, I thought it was time I share a little about myself. I came to Genesis after seven years of working at the Fraser Health Authority, most recently as the Director of Child and Youth for the region. Although the position was extremely interesting and rewarding, I was compelled to explore the possibility of becoming the Director of Clinical Operations at Genesis. Why was that, you might ask? The answer is quite simple. Prior to my position in Fraser Health, I was the Program Director at the UBC Centre for Reproductive Health. I absolutely loved working in this area of health care. I have never personally experienced the heartbreak of infertility; however, I walked alongside hundreds as they made the difficult journey towards their dream of having a child.

As a result, I learned about the physical, psychological, and emotional challenges faced during the experience of infertility. I also learned about the bravery and courage of those who faced these challenges. And then, when treatment was successful, the immense joy of pregnancy and birth of a child. It is these experiences that drew me to Genesis. Now that I am here and am working with this amazing team, I am even more ecstatic about my decision to come on board.

So who am I outside of work?  I am a wife, mom to two sons and a daughter and step-mom to three step-daughters. I am “Nana” to my granddaughter and “Nana Susie” to my three step-grandsons. I also volunteer for organizations that contribute to social change. I love the outdoors and together with my husband, run, hike, cycle, ski and kayak. I am an avid reader, enjoy local plays and concerts and am a consummate traveler.

I am very excited about my future at Genesis as I continue working with Dr. Kashyap and the team here. I look forward to meeting those who come to us with their dream of building a family and being part of their journey. 

Fertility Food Friday: Creamy Cantaloupe Smoothie

It’s lovely and warm today, and what better way to enjoy the sunshine and soak up some vitamin D than drinking a healthy, vitamin-filled, creamy cantaloupe smoothie on a patio or on the beach!

Registered holistic nutritionist Krista A. Parr has the perfect cantaloupe smoothie recipe to end your warm, summer week.


Healthy fertility recipe: Creamy Cantaloupe Smoothie

Enjoy a lovely, healthy, creamy cantaloupe smoothie while soaking up some sun. (Photo Credit: Blendtec)

Creamy Cantaloupe Smoothie

Smoothies are a great way to get high fibre and nutrients in an easily digestible form. They’re also quick, easy, convenient on the go, and can sustain you for a long time when there is adequate protein and quality fats included. This delicious smoothie achieves all of the above, plus a host of fertility nutrients including essential fatty acids, calcium, folate, and vitamins E, C, and B6. So, all in one smoothie you have the potential to regulate hormones, protect sperm and eggs from oxidative damage, increase cervical fluid, remove toxins and excess hormones from the body, and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs! Plus, all of the ingredients in this smoothie have an alkaline effect on body chemistry, offsetting the acidity of stress, medications, pollution, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, and creating a welcoming environment for sperm.

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Wellness Wednesdays: Folic Acid


Folic acid and fertility

If you’re in the process of trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, be sure to consume a healthy dose of folic acid.

If you’re in the process of trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, one thing is for sure. Maternal health and fetal health go hand in hand. One of the most important things that a woman can do for her unborn child is to make sure she takes her folic acid. Folic acid can help to prevent serious birth defects in our children.

Folic acid, also known as folate, comes from many different foods including leafy green vegetables like the popular kale and spinach. It can also be found in orange juice and grains.

A healthy dose of folic acid can help prevent and reduce the risk of babies being born with neural tube defects – serious birth defects involving incomplete development of the brain, spine or spinal cord.

Varying doses of folic acid are prescribed for different people and their health statuses.

Healthy patients with no medical issues require a well-balanced diet full of folate-rich foods and daily supplementation with a multivitamin with folic acid (0.4–1.0 mg) for at least two to three months before conception, throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period (4–6 weeks and as long as breastfeeding continues).

Patients who need a higher dose of folic acid (5mg) are:

  • Patients with health risks, including epilepsy, insulin-dependent diabetes and obesity (Body Mass Index [BMI] greater than 35);
  • Those who have a family history of neural tube defects;
  • People belonging to a high-risk ethnic group, e.g. Sikhs require an increased dietary intake of folate-rich foods and daily supplementation with multivitamins with 5 mg of folic acid.

Patients who require a higher dose of folate should consume the vitamin at least three months before conception and continue its intake throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period.

In a nutshell, folic acid is a mandatory ingredient in the recipe of pregnancy.

Meet Us Mondays: Ashley Ruiz, Nursing Assistant

Meet Ashley Ruiz, a proud member of Genesis Fertility Centre's nursing assistants team

Meet Ashley Ruiz, a proud member of Genesis Fertility Centre’s nursing assistants team

Hi, my name is Ashley.  I am one of the nursing assistants here at Genesis Fertility Centre.  You may see me in various areas of the clinic but mostly in your morning scans.  Before I joined Genesis I worked in gynecology, oncology and palliative home care.  I had great affection for what I did but I was looking for something more for my career.  So when I found out Genesis was hiring I knew it would be exactly what I was looking for – regardless of how challenging it was going to be – since my journey to Genesis started even before nursing school.

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