IVF babble spoke to Dr Raef Faris, a leading fertility specialist at Lister Fertility Clinic. The clinic was established in 1988 and specialises in women with low ovarian reserve.
It is currently running a campaign to highlight the importance of egg donation and nutritional benefits of eating well for good fertility. Since its inception, the Lister has been responsible for the birth of more than 17,000 IVF babies…
Tell us about you and your career?
I have been at Lister Fertility Clinic since 2003. I specialise in fertility and gynaecological surgery including keyhole surgery. My fertility speciality includes management of women with low ovarian reserve, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroid uterus uterine anomalies and perform surgical procedures related to fertility for more than 25 years.
Graduating from Cairo University in 1999; I obtained my MSc degree. I moved to the UK in 1999 and gained a MRCOG and FRCOG. My clinical training in the UK in obstetrics and gynaecology began at The Ipswich Hospital and was completed at Nottingham University Hospitals.
I am an accredited laparoscopic surgeon by the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists and have also obtained the European Universities Diploma of Operative Gynaecological Endoscopies at Université d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand France in 1999. I am an accredited trainer in embryo transfer, assisted conception, pelvic ultrasound, and quality management of fertility service by the British Fertility Society. I am a member and trainer of BSCCP. I also have published nationally and internationally in different areas in reproductive medicine.
Why did you decide to join Lister Fertility Clinic?
The ethos of the clinic matched my own. As one of the most renowned and largest IVF units in the UK, I was proud to join the team. We offer a unique, world class experience to our patients.
In its 30-year history, more than 17,600 babies have been born from private fertility treatment at the Lister. It has maintained consistent and excellent IVF success rates while empowering patients to make their own informed decisions about their treatment, ensuring a relaxed atmosphere at a potentially difficult time.
What makes the Lister unique?
The Lister philosophy is to treat all patients with a potential to succeed. Using a database of more than 70,000 cycles, our unique pregnancy calculator can provide realistic information about an individual’s chances of success here at the Lister. We aim to provide the patient with the information needed to make an informed and realistic decision about their own treatment.
The Lister’s fantastic team truly makes the clinic unique. The continued success is a testament to the talent and teamwork of everyone here at the clinic, from the doctors and nurses, to the embryologists, sonographers and admin staff. I am proud to work with a group of doctors who are all extremely highly qualified gynaecologists, specialising in all aspects of fertility.
As one of the biggest single centre fertility clinics in the country, completing on average around 2,000 cycles a year, the Lister’s laboratory is a well-oiled machine, offering the most cutting-edge fertility treatment, including IMSI and NGS, allowing better selection of embryos, in addition to offering investigations to the cause of recurrent miscarriages or implantation failure.
How have you seen IVF change since the beginning of your career?
Technology certainly has moved on over the last 20 years and success rates have dramatically improved. Lab techniques and culture media have developed significantly: research has developed new tools for investigation, the improvement in incubators has increased the survival rate of embryos and the techniques involving the selection of embryos and assessment has vastly improved success rates.
For example, the development of blastocyst culture, which is growing the embryos to day five before implantation, has significantly improved the overall success rate by allowing a better selection of embryos.
The advances in freezing techniques have seen the success rates of frozen embryos at a very similar level to the use of fresh embryos. Egg freezing technology has made an enormous difference in the approach of fertility preservation over the last few years. Not only allowing fertility preservation for , but also with the rise of ‘social’ egg freezing, enabling women who are not yet ready to start a family to have an element of control over their fertility.
Surgical approach to fertility conditions has also evolved over the years. There has been a marked development in keyhole surgery, with the establishment of available evidence and guidelines for association between IVF, fertility and surgical conditions including endometriosis and anatomical abnormalities of the uterus.
What more can be done to support anyone going through fertility issues?
I believe that by increasing public awareness of fertility issues and the range of treatment options available to those struggling is the first step. Although in recent years there has been more openness around fertility, fertility issues are still such a private subject. Due to the nature of the condition a lot of people understandably feel unwilling to talk about it, which can delay them seeking treatment. I believe the couple in question should be empowered with information throughout their fertility journey.
I certainly hope that all fertility clinics will be focusing on the success of the individual patient rather than the success of their own clinic. Patient centre approach is the most crucial element for supporting fertility patients.
What message would you give to couples individually who are experiencing difficulties – what should be their first step?
My key message to them is that they are not alone. On average, one in seven couples will need fertility help in some aspect. A lot of them will get pregnant. My advice is not to focus too hard on success rates but use that to guide them to their realistic chances and outcome. The first step should be contacting a specialist for advice and carrying out initial investigations. This can be tailored to their personal and family history as well as any other medical conditions they have.
To learn more about Raef Faris and the Lister Fertility Clinic click here
To get in touch with Raef Faris and the fantastic team at the Lister Fertility Clinic contact here