04 Mar Introducing Professor Beverley Vollenhoven
In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019
Offering hope to women in a fertile field of growing importance.
Beverley is a renowned researcher and IVF clinician improving the rate of successful pregnancies in couples using IVF, particularly for older women. She also has a particular interest in the treatment of uterine fibroids which are the commonest tumours in women. With over 140 publications in both journals and books, Beverley is the Head of Gynaecology at Monash Health and Deputy Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University. She is also the Head of the Contraceptive Counselling Clinic and the Menopause Clinics and a reproductive endocrinologist in the Long Term Care of Children with Cancer clinic at the Monash Medical Centre. She is an infertility specialist at Monash IVF. Above all Beverley is a wonderful human being and a treasured client of Studio PP.
Beverley will be inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for mentorship and research to be awarded on International Women’s Day Friday 8 March 2019.
- You do such important work with the women and families of Australia, what initially drew you to this field and what drives you to continue to do what you do?
I was interested in Obstetrics and Gynaecology as a medical student and I had a fantastic mentor at the time who helped cement my interest in the field. When I started training, I became interested in reproductive endocrinology and infertility again due to a great mentor. I became pregnant with my daughter Katherine in my second year of training. A big no no at the time. I had to take a year out with all the more senior doctors saying that I would never return and the implication was that I had taken someone else’s place in the training programme. To show them that I was actually serious I started my Ph.D in that year, a fairly stupid thing to do when you also have a baby!! Though this is something that women often do to prove ourselves, take on multiple tasks.
- Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility are your specialties; can you tell us in your own words what issues you deal with on a weekly basis?
This is a very broad profession. The majority of patients I see have issues with their fertility. However, I also see women with hormonal problems, menopause problems and general gynaecology problems such as heavy periods. I am also a paediatric and adolescent gynaecologist so I see a number of children. I always know when it is school holidays when I have an influx of teenagers and children attending me.
- You have battled and overcome your own health challenges over the past two years whilst supporting women to overcome their own. How did you manage to balance your health issues whilst continuing your important work and research?
I hope my breast cancer has made me more empathetic. I am fairly pragmatic about life in general so I thought I would just get on with it. Having said that, I was really lucky as I was never sick when I had chemotherapy and the only side effect was losing my hair. Because I wasn’t sick it made it easier to just get on with life. I try hard not to wallow. The medication I am taking at the moment is probably worse in terms of side effects and that is why I exercise, it makes the side effects more tolerable.
- If I could give you a microphone what would your message be to the women of Australia?
Follow your dreams but don’t forget to have children along the way if you want a family. Don’t feel you have to prove your worth to anyone but yourself. We all get to where we want to be eventually, in our own time and at our own speed and overcome the hiccups along the way.
Also, Exercise is really important for general well being, not just for fitness and loss of weight. Exercise got me through a divorce and breast cancer. Studio PP has been an integral part of the latter. It was actually my daughter Katherine who initially got me to the studio by giving me a session as a birthday present.
- What do you like doing in your spare time when you’re not talking about vaginas and the reproductive system?
Exercise, socialising with my friends, movies, reading. Family and friends are really important and one should not pass up time with them to work. Work will always be there but family and friends won’t be.