Meet the special in your IVF Specialist – Dr. Manuela Toledo

Fertility Dr

Our practitioners at Fertile Ground Health Group communicate regularly with many medical specialists for the shared care of patients and to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved. This collaborative approach has enabled us to get to know some fabulous specialists and we thought you might like to meet the “special” in your Specialist too!

Often these doctors work tirelessly and are fiercely committed to their practice. The subject of our first interview in this series, Dr. Manuela Toledo from Melbourne IVF is no exception!  Read on as Manuela let’s us in on her views about her work and area of speciality.

Meet the special in your Specialist – Dr. Manuela Toledo, Melbourne IVF.
What is your best advice for someone trying to conceive?
Optimize your lifestyle choices at least 3 months prior to conception. Of course this means no smoking and minimal alcohol and caffeine. Exercise moderately for 30mins 2-3 times a week and eat a diet rich in folic acid and antioxidants i.e. fresh organic fruit and vegetables. In addition a multivitamin with folic acid and good hydration.

Oh, did I say no smoking?

What do you love about your work as a fertility specialist?

There are so many aspects to being a fertility specialist and it merges psychology, medicine and surgery. I enjoy the multidisciplinary approach to fertility management and have a special interest in second opinions and patients with complex fertility problems. Never a dull moment!

Why did you choose fertility for your specialist profession from all of the medical options available to you?

I started off training as a resident in general and plastic surgery but felt myself drawn to the fascinating science of reproductive medicine. I would have also liked to be an embryologist (a scientist who works in the IVF laboratory) but enjoy patient contact too much.

What part of your work sometimes brings you to tears? 

I don’t cry easily (except maybe watching a sad movie on a long haul plane flight when I am jet lagged) but it is very emotional when a successful patient comes back with her newborn and extended family who are all very grateful. It makes one realise that the impact of infertility is far reaching.

What are the biggest challenges about being a fertility specialist that your patients don’t see?

Unfortunately Victoria is the most heavily regulated jurisdiction in the world with regard to fertility treatment and there is a lot of paperwork that goes on in the background. Victoria is the only state in Australia (and the world) that requires police checks prior to fertility treatment and I resent that my patients are forced to have these discriminatory checks when the naturally fertile population doesn’t.

According to the bureau of statistics, the average person has 10 jobs in their lifetime. What did you do before becoming a fertility specialist? Do you ever see yourself doing anything different?

I have worked in medicine and fertility for so long now that I cannot see myself doing anything else. Reproductive medicine is a very fast moving field and staying up to date is imperative. I have however also served on the Board of Melbourne IVF which has helped me understand how running the very complex management side of an IVF unit works. My main work is at Melbourne IVF but I also intermittently work as a consultant at TasIVF in Hobart and Launceston which I really enjoy. So in a way I feel that I do have several different jobs.

Do you recommend your patients see an acupuncturist or naturopath while they are doing fertility treatment? Why?

Many of my patients are already seeing a naturopath and/or acupuncturist and have already optimised their lifestyle. This is often very beneficial for their fertility treatment and they seem to cope much better both physically and psychologically, so from my point of view I am very supportive of a multidisciplinary approach.

What is your all-time best success story that you can share?

There are so many success stories but I always remember those that have had unsuccessful and sometimes quite complex treatments in Europe, the UK and USA often even with donor eggs and then finally come home to be successful here with their own egg in a natural IVF cycle – that is very special for me and confirms that sometimes less is more.

How can people contact you if they would like more information?

You can call my office directly on 03 9415 1815


For more information about Dr. Manuela Toledo or to enquire go to the Melbourne IVF website

Dr Manuela Toledo, MBBS. FRANZCOG, MMed. CREI qualified (Certification in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility) with a holistic approach and a special interest in complex infertility.

Manuela Toledo graduated in medicine from The University of Melbourne and started specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1997.

Manuela trained at both The Mercy Hospital for Women and The Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and became a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2004. During this time Manuela also completed a Masters of Reproduction and Genetics at the University of Sydney.

Manuela spent three years as the Melbourne IVF Fellow completing specialist training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, obtaining the CREI specialisation in 2008. She joined Melbourne IVF as a consultant in 2006 and served as a member of the Melbourne IVF Board from 2006-2013. Manuela holds a VMO position at The Women’s Hospital.

Manuela is interested in all aspects of infertility and has a special interest in providing second opinions for complex infertility, fertility preservation and complementary medicines.



Could massage really help you conceive?

By Consuella Garreffa, FGHG Remedial Massage Therapist

So you’ve had the chat and decided that having children is on your agenda. There’s a new found freedom as many years trying not to conceive has finally turned tables. Contraception has been thrown out the window and the fun has begun!

Unfortunately it may not be that easy. In Australia only 3 out of 5 couples will conceive within 6 months of trying and 1 in 4 will take anywhere up to a year, with the rest of us taking even longer. All this often leads to a physical and emotionally demanding journey. What can begin as quite an adventure, can lead to stress and fatigue with cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone) often grabbing the reins and taking over.

This is exactly what you don’t need. Cortisol’s intention in the body is to help us deal with stress, it peaks as a reaction from the sympathetic nervous system and was originally intended for our flight or fight response; like that instant a thousand years ago where we were being chased by the wandering beast and needed a little more than the average power of our legs to get out of there.  Now-a-days there are many reasons why cortisol spikes and adapted threatening like situations still trigger its hefty rise – that deadline to have the paper in by Friday, the forty-six car build up you’re banked up in, or even a disturbing news headline, not to mention the waiting for ovulation or waiting for pregnancy results.

When trying to conceive, even sex can become stressful as pressure mounts to “get it right” and timing, position, to orgasm or not to… all comes under question and can lead to feelings of pressure. It may be reason to sky rocket your body’s stress response, launching these hormones, in particular – cortisol.

Our bodies are pretty fabulous; they want to nurture a little human to the best of their ability and chemically they are aware that a time of increased stress is not the ideal time to conceive. Instead, in stressful times our reproductive functioning is not on the main agenda, often resulting in hormone imbalance and trouble conceiving. The altered hormones can sometimes lead to altered menstrual cycle in women with anovulation and for men, high cortisol may lead to a low sperm count and decreased sperm motility.

‘Should we quit work and go on a baby making holiday?’ you may be asking. Whilst it’s not such a bad idea, we need to be a little realistic. What your body may be screaming for is to be nurtured and find relaxation closer to home on a more regular basis. A therapeutic massage will do just that.

Massage has been found to decrease cortisol levels by a huge 30% while simultaneously increasing the feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine – at an average of 28% and 31% respectively. Serotonin, the power molecule for mood stabilisation has the capacity to increase focus and calm, and decrease anxiety. Serotonin is also responsible for the production of melatonin – the sleep hormone. By optimising melatonin the body is able to recharge by having a restful sleep when the lights are switched off at the end of the day.

By adding therapeutic massage into your weekly baby making routine it will encourage your hormones to re-balance; lowering excess cortisol, increasing serotonin, dopamine and melatonin and enhancing your body’s ability to nurture a new little human.

Consuella_Garreffa colourBy Consuella Garreffa, Remedial Massage Therapist

Consuella Garreffa is a Remedial Massage therapist with years of valuable experience. Since birth Consuella has been immersed in natural living principles, growing up on a vineyard in Mildura where traditional methods were opted to prevent disease and treat any health complaints. For the past two years Consuella has been treating in Brisbane and has relocated to Melbourne to join Fertile Ground Health Group.


How to be smart about stress and your fertility

By Gina Fox, Naturopath

Listen now to Gina’s Podcast “How to be smart about stress and your fertility”

The effect of stress can be different for each of us and just because you don’t feel stressed doesn’t mean that you may not be affected. The very busyness of our daily routines can result in constantly raised stress hormones such as cortisol. The effects of stress on the regulation of hormones, blood sugar and adrenal functions are well established and this means that reproduction is compromised, especially when experienced long term.

In the podcast Tasha Jennings ND of Conceive Baby website talks with Naturopath and Natural Fertility Specialist Gina Fox about the impact of stress on fertility and what you can do to improve your chances of falling pregnant.Gina has over 15 years clinical experience with a Masters in Reproductive Medicine. As well consulting at Fertile Ground Health Group, she is also a writer, speaker, naturopathic lecturer, student clinic supervisor and co-founder of the Be Fertile Series of Guided Meditations to support people through the struggles of trying to conceive.

Click here to hear the podcast. “How to be smart about stress and your fertility” Interview by Tasha Jennings from Conceive baby with Naturopath Gina Fox.


By Gina Fox (FGHG naturopath) and Joanne Sharkey (FGHG acupuncturist)

We are thrilled to announce the latest in our informative podcast series WTF is MTHFR – an interview by Joanne Sharkey with Gina Fox on the ins and outs of MTHFR.

Have you heard of MTHFR? What is it? Why is everybody talking about it? Could it be affecting your chances of conceiving a healthy baby? Implicated in miscarriage, sperm defects, neural tube defects like spinabifida, and even chromosomal issues like down syndrome, MTHFR needs attention in a practice like ours with a special focus on fertility and helping people conceive healthy babies.

What if you do have it? Can it be treated? Will treatment actually help? Is there a bigger picture than this reductionist approach?

There are so many questions when it comes to MTHFR. Get all of your answers here on this fabulous and comprehensive podcast with FGHG acupuncturist Joanne Sharkey interviewing FGHG fertility naturopath Gina Fox

Listen to the podcast now