A Day in the Life of Dr Thomas Stavrakis, Consultant Gynaecologist and Reproductive Medicine Specialist
We speak to Dr Thomas Stavrakis, Consultant Gynaecologist and Reproductive Medicine Specialist, at the LWC in Harley Street about building relationships with his patients and the LWC's latest PGT-A research.
My name is Dr Thomas Stavrakis and I am a Consultant Gynaecologist and Reproductive Medicine Specialist at the LWC Harley Street. I studied medicine in Thessaloniki in Greece. I came to London for the last part of my speciality training at UCLH. I have been awarded a Masters in Public Health – Health Economics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I worked as a Clinical Fellow in the IVF Unit at the Hammersmith Hospital before moving to the LWC in March 2018.
A day in my life
I spend around one to two days a week in theatre performing egg collection procedures and embryo transfers. Most of my time I am seeing patients for initial consultations and follow up appointments. It’s important to me that I get to know my patients well. I open and maintain a channel of communication between us. I make sure I am fully informed about their case so that they can trust me to look after them.
Aside from seeing patients, I am working on research projects with Mr Michael Summers and Professor Nick Macklon, the LWC’s Medical Director. This is in conjunction with the clinic’s embryo screening programme IVF Select. Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A) takes place as part of an IVF cycle. Once the embryos reach day 5 of fertilisation (blastocyst stage) an embryologist will take a biopsy and send these cells to a specialist laboratory for testing. The embryos are screened to ensure that they are chromosomally balanced (euploid) before being transferred in a later frozen embryo transfer.
PGT-A can be beneficial for patients who have had previous miscarriages, implantation failure or for women who are close to or over 40. We are looking in to determining the probability of having at least one euploid embryo following PGT-A treatment. The findings can be used as a genetic counselling tool for patients considering undergoing PGT-A. It can also be applied to patients undergoing egg freezing as a statistical prognostic instrument.
The best part of my job
I really enjoy the challenge of meeting new patients. I make sure that I have an in-depth knowledge of their medical history and ensure I’ve picked up all the fine details. I start my consultations by firstly providing my patients with an understanding of how their cycle works, their reproductive anatomy and their fertility status. Only after this will I perform a pelvic ultrasound scan on the female patient. This means that when we’re looking at the images on the screen they can understand what we see.
It’s important for me to understand the patient’s wishes in order to provide them with a tailored treatment approach. I want my patients to leave their consultation having the knowledge to make decisions about their future. It is paramount for me in an age of increasing cost awareness, to be able to monitor patients’ conditions in order to best understand how to explore and treat them efficiently.
I am interested in researching the area of fertility preservation through egg freezing. As more women choose to delay having children, social egg freezing is increasing in popularity.
As fertility specialists, we’re all working together to fight infertility. We don’t compete and we provide a network to help our patients achieve their goal of having a family.
Fertility awareness needs to be widespread amongst the public. Many women don’t understand the impact of age on their fertility and this may affect their chances of conceiving. IVF still has a long way to go in the future. As societies become more affluent, fertility decreases. I think that IVF will become more routine and more people will freeze their eggs and have embryo screening.