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The fine balance of working during IVF

The IVF journey can be an emotional and almost all-consuming experience for people trying to conceive. Balancing working life amidst it all isn’t easy but the team from Genea Oxford Fertility have a few tips to share.


Talk it through
It can be a difficult decision to let others know you’re about to undergo fertility treatment, but if you have a good relationship with your boss, an honest conversation could be beneficial for you both. For example, a general understanding about you attending appointments and avoiding work travel will eliminate the need to invent excuses or explain mysterious absences. Generally, we hear people have a way of surprising you and will be far more supportive than you imagine.

Work can be beneficial
Your first reaction when starting treatment may be to take leave from your job but you might find work is a welcome distraction. Rather than worrying about the ‘what-ifs’, keeping busy with a purpose and focus outside of the IVF process might make the emotional load a little lighter. Sitting at home worrying can sometimes be just as stressful as going to your regular job. Work can also give you a sense of achievement at a time when it seems like no matter how hard you try, your fertility is not something you can problem solve. If you decide to work throughout your fertility treatment, see if you can lighten your load and investigate delegating some of your work to make life easier.

Put yourself first
To give yourself the best chance of IVF success, eating and sleeping well, exercising, relaxation techniques, and enjoying time with family and friends are all important. Where you can, cut back on additional demands and try a little pampering to help you through this emotional time. There’s no perfect formula when you’re going through IVF, but it is important is to look after yourself and create some plans to help you succeed in all areas of your life.


Making families

Metropol caught up with fertility specialist, Dr Pete Benny, who has just returned to New Zealand as Genea Oxford Fertility’s Medical Director, about the options available for making families.

What attracted you to working in this field?
I’d always enjoyed science, particularly learning about endocrinology (hormones). The field of fertility applies science to helping people have a family.

Many women have spent their entire lives trying not to get pregnant, then they’re shocked when they can’t easily have a baby. What are some of the reasons why we’re struggling to get pregnant these days?
The prevalence of infertility in each age group is the same as 20 years ago, or longer.

The difference now is that people are delaying pregnancy, so the age they are trying to get pregnant has increased.

In the past, there wasn’t the technology available to help. Now there is.

What are some of the biggest myths when it comes to fertility?
A major fallacy is that if people try IVF, it will be instantly successful.

Many people believe they can delay starting a family because of their faith in IVF. Sadly it doesn’t always work.

Another common myth is that infertility is primarily a female problem. We know now that it is just as likely to stem from male issues.

How long should couples wait before they seek medical advice?
If you’re under 35 and there is no obvious problem, seek advice if you’re not pregnant within a year of trying to have a baby.

If you’re over 35, see someone within six months. But always seek advice if something just doesn’t feel right or you are worried.

Should we be thinking about fertility well before we actively want to get pregnant?
I think we should all be more aware of our fertility and the things that impact upon it, particularly lifestyle and environment.

We should have a plan for our lives and if having a family is important, then allow time for that to happen.

What are the treatment options available in New Zealand for fertility?
Treatments depend on the cause of infertility.

The first issue to consider is your lifestyle.

For example, poor nutrition or too much stress won’t increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Other issues, such as endometriosis or lack of ovulation, may need to be addressed to allow conception.

There are various options available including IVF to fertilise the eggs; fertilisation using micro-injection (ICSI), or identifying the right embryos with PGT-A.

If we can’t treat someone with IVF, then we explore donor eggs or sperm, donor embryos or even surrogacy. We can also recover sperm directly from the testes, if necessary.

What are the benefits of non-medical approaches in increasing the chance of pregnancy – such as relaxation techniques and meditation?
It’s difficult to prove that these methods treat infertility.

They do however help people deal with the delays that are often associated with treatment and may give people time to achieve a natural conception.

Such techniques can also help people deal with the stresses of not achieving a pregnancy.

What’s the most fulfilling part of what you do?
It is watching people grow, while achieving their goal of having a family.

I get a huge amount of joy from seeing them fulfil their desire for a family.


Growing families: Genea Oxford Fertility

One of the founders of fertility services in Canterbury is returning from Australia to become Genea Oxford Fertility’s Medical Director.




Fertility specialist Dr Pete Benny, who is currently the Medical Director of Monash IVF NSW and an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, will return to Christchurch to take up his new role in the New Year.|

As well as helping Genea Oxford Fertility patients to grow their families, he will be training new fertility specialists to work at the clinic. “I had always planned to come back to Christchurch and was lucky to be presented with this exciting opportunity,” he says.

Prior to leaving Christchurch, Dr Benny practiced as an obstetrician and gynaecologist and held a number of roles in the city’s burgeoning fertility services. These included Clinical Director of Canterbury District Health Board’s IVF Unit until 1993; Medical Director of Healthlink South’s IVF service until 1996; Medical Director of The Fertility Centre until 2008; and Medical Director of Repromed Christchurch (now Fertility Associates) until 2010.

“Many of the people I worked with are still in Christchurch, including (Genea Oxford Fertility specialists) Janene Brown and Richard Dover. I am really looking forward to being back amongst them.”

Dr Benny says he finds his specialty endlessly interesting. “One of the things that is fascinating me at the moment is research into how the uterus and embryos communicate with each other. It seems highly likely that embryos send a number of messages that the uterus reads and then decides whether or not to accept them. It is so interesting to think about what those messages might be,” he says.

“The biggest issue around the world is of course educating society about what happens with fertility and ageing. People need a better understanding, so that they start planning their fertility and don’t leave it too long.”

Appointments are now being taken for consultations with Dr Benny in the New Year. Simply call Genea Oxford Fertility on 0800 377 894 or ask your General Practitioner for a referral.


Dr Pete Benny




Genea Oxford Fertility

An expanding fertility team: Genea Oxford Fertility

An acclaimed fertility expert and endometriosis researcher is joining the specialist team at Genea Oxford Fertility this month.


Genea Oxford Fertility


Associate Professor Louise Hull will be splitting her time between Australia and her hometown Christchurch to take up her new role with Genea Oxford Fertility. “I’m really looking forward to supporting South Island couples to grow their families. Fertility issues can be incredibly complex and require a really strong science-based approach, as well as a caring and supportive environment for people,” she says.


Dr Hull moved to Australia after graduating from medical school at the University of Otago and completing a PhD in endometriosis at Cambridge University in the UK. She gained a Certificate of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (CREI) through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and went on to become an Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide. Her extensive knowledge and passion for fertility led her to co-found the Fertility SA IVF Unit in Adelaide.


Genea Oxford Fertility General Manager Catherine France says Dr Hull has achieved at the very highest level throughout her international career. “It is incredibly rare to find a fertility specialist who also has such a great depth of knowledge about endometriosis. We look forward to having her on our team and working with our patients.”


Genea Oxford Fertility, through its partnership with Oxford Women’s Health, offers consultations throughout the South Island including Christchurch, Invercargill and Queenstown. It uses a unique model that blends the best of science, technology and patient care to significantly improve a couple’s ability to have a healthy baby.

A Fertility Options Evening will be held at the Genea Oxford Fertility clinic on 18 October, where you can meet Dr Hull and the Genea Oxford team and learn more about the variety of different fertility treatments available. It is free to attend and registrations can be made at


You can also call 0800 377 894 for a free nurse consultation or to make an appointment.