We are delighted to welcome the amazing Dr Vivienne Hall to our IVF team, working alongside Dr George Ndukwe and Dr Simone Rofena.
Dr Hall trained in medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and specialises in pre-implantation genetics and the management of low and critically low ovarian reserve. She joined the team as she believes the holistic approach and personalised care plans at the clinic give the best possible chance of success.
Here we learn a little more about Dr Hall and her plans at the Zita West Clinic.
ZW:We are really thrilled to welcome you to the team, what was it that most appealed to you about joining the Zita West Clinic?
VH:Well, let me start by saying that I am also thrilled to have joined the Zita West Clinic. I think the thing that excites me most is the I am going to be able to get to know the patients well and give them individualised care that is specifically tailored to them. I’m also really excited by your whole approach to nutrition and the holistic aspects of fertility.
ZW: How did you start in the IVF world?
VH: I started way back in 1989. I was doing general obstetrics and gynaecology in a busy district general hospital and the infertility part, which was very basic at the time, always fascinated me because it involved a little bit of surgery, a little bit of genetics, a little bit of immunology and a little bit of general medicine. I always thought, what a fascinating subject this is. And each couple who comes along is always so interesting and there’s always something you can do to help them. So I always find that each couple, every new consultation is something fascinating and I can really get involved in helping them and the family.
ZW: Yes, you do form deep bonds when you help people regardless of the outcome.
VH: Yes, I would hate to be in a position where I didn’t look forward to going to work every day, and I do! It’s a privilege to look after these patients and hopefully be successful for most of them.
ZW: What do you think makes IVF successful?
VH: Attention to detail is absolutely key. The patients’ own wellbeing – nutritional and emotional – is also very important. Obviously, added to that, an excellent laboratory that again has a real focus on attention to detail.
ZW: One of the things here is that nutrition and lifestyle is part of our IVF package because it’s really important to us that women prepare nutritionally. Women know everything about fertility and diets, but they don’t really know a lot about nutrition. One of the questions that is always asked is ‘Is there anything I can do to improve the quality of my eggs?’. I know a woman is born with all the eggs she is ever going to possess, but there is a lot you can do around the lifestyle and the environment the eggs are growing in. It’s interesting as well because, the questionnaire we have here, looking at digestion and the gut, I think, is a huge factor in fertility and it’s interesting that the whole gut area is one of your interests.
VH: Yes, it all came about when the Human Genome Project was done. What came out of it was the ability to analyse huge quantities of bacterial DNA in the gut and it seems that the bacteria you have in your gut can impact on all sorts of aspects of your health – immune processors and inflammation and all the things that can have a significant effect on natural fertility. So, we know the presence of the wrong amounts of bacteria can have an effect on things such as obstetrics and miscarriage, pre-term labour and post-caesarean. I think, what will become more important is actually seeing what’s going on in The Human Microbiome and The Vaginal Microbiome and to see if that has an effect on IVF and pregnancy success, as well as the reduction of miscarriages. So, I’m hugely interested in educating patients about their own gut flora and how they can improve it quite simply by using probiotics and that sort of thing and analysing when we think there is a serious problem with the microbiome. That might lead us to correlate things we know are important here in Natural Killer Cells in immune system problems with a simple realignment of the gut microbiome.
ZW: Are there any new things you’d like to work on while you’re here?
VH: I’ve always been very interested in the genetic aspects of IVF in patients for whom it’s appropriate and that continues to go from strength to strength. I’m very excited to be working with Dr George and Dr Simone to do some more about immunology. Despite the fact that it’s quite controversial, there’s a lot going on there that we need to clarify and take forward. The nutritional aspects and the support aspects too are things I’m very interested in – the patient actually being ready to do IVF and taking time to get the patient prepared properly for something which is probably very important, not to mention expensive, and potentially quite devastating when it doesn’t work.
ZW: For a lot of women they have a pet thing, I want this sort of IVF or that sort of IVF. What do you say to those couples?
VH: I know a lot of couples come along with preconceived ideas, either because they’ve had treatment elsewhere or they’ve read around a lot, which is highly commendable. But I think you have to use your experience and skill to do what you can and do what they want if you can, but be strong enough to say, I really don’t think that is what you should be doing, I’d recommend this instead. So, I very much take on board what they’d like to do, but possibly modify it to something that is most likely to give them success first time round.
To book a consultation with Dr Vivienne Hall contact the reception team on 0808 196 4060