Professor William Ledger


What is your role at your organisation and what is your main area of business / practice?

I am Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UNSW, Director of Reproductive Medicine at the Royal Hospital for Women and Specialist at City Fertility Sydney.

How did you get into your area of expertise and why do you stay?

I’ve been in academic reproductive medicine around the world for over 30 years. It’s still the best job in the world, combining pathos, humour, triumph and tragedy into every working day. I enjoy staying at the cutting edge of the science while interpreting new evidence and guiding my patients through the increasingly tangled maze of advice available to them.

What has been the main focus or outcomes of your research/work over the past year?

We run the Oocyte Biology Research group at UNSW, led by my friend and colleague Prof Rob Gilchrist. We continue to try to improve the quality of older oocytes and have made some interesting progress recently, both in biomarkers of oocyte health and in possible approaches in helping women who are older or have a poor ovarian response to IVF stimulation.

How has your field changed in the past 5 years?

Beyond recognition. So much good science has moved the goalposts a long way. We can now obtain equivalent livebirth rates with frozen embryos as with fresh, can efficiently biopsy to exclude serious genetic and chromosomal disorders before embryo transfer and have made the process of IVF more acceptable and safe for patients. I don’t think that many other areas of medicine have changed so much in such a short a period of time.

What new areas are emerging? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years in your particular field?

I’d hope to see better results for “older” patients. Women and their partners are delaying childbirth for longer and longer, for good social reasons. Biology is unfair and evolution is slow, so action is needed to improve their chances of a healthy pregnancy. We will also see greater uptake of genetic screening for serious abnormalities and improvement in accessibility to services for those less well off in Australia and around the world.

From your session what do you want practitioners to learn / take-away or be more confident in?

Understand how we can best all work together to achieve a much desired pregnancy for our patients. Learn more about what ART science can and cannot offer.

What is the number one-way natural medicine practitioners, can make a difference for their clients?

Collaborate with others who work across the disciplines to help women achieve a pregnancy against the odds. We should try to be more inclusive and holistic – we’re all trying to help our patient/client.

What are the questions you get asked the most often in your field, and how do you answer it?

  • Can I choose the gender of my embryo? (Not in Australia).


  • Can I have two / three embryos transferred? (Almost never in Australia)


  • Do the medications have many side effects? (Not seriously for most people).


  • Can you help needle phobic patients through IVF? (Yes).


  • Does exercise / stress / long hours at work affect my chance of pregnancy? (Usually not).


  • When can I start?

Fun Fact for the Readers: Tell us who inspires you / or who your professional idol is and why?

Serena Williams. Great at her sport and was six weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open two years ago. Love watching her play the game and she has inspired many women and partners.

The speaker Q&As are presented by Oborne Health, a platinum sponsor of ATMS’ Fertility Symposium 2022.