Dr Priya Selvaraj went for her first IVF training in 1998 as a young student pursuing her speciality in Singapore. It was a truly inspiring time, since she realised how a conception could magically occur in the confines of a laboratory. What followed has been a remarkable journey one with several achievements and a desire to make a difference to the field of fertility medicine.I think most of us at least from my generation used to pick professions that we were exposed to the most and what we saw at home. We were raised in an environment where we saw two working professionals in the healthcare sector, tending to patients at home and at another clinic, and raising us simultaneously. So, my brother and I both gravitated naturally towards taking up medicine as a profession.On January 31, 1982, when Dr Priya was just nine, her parents started the now-iconic GG Hospitals. It was the dreamchild of my parents, but even before that, I had already made up my mind to become a doctor. So it wasnt that I did it because I had something to look after. There was no pressure.Although Dr Priya joined GG Hospital as a consultant in June, 2000, her training in obstetrics, gynaecology and fertility medicine had started two years prior, while she was still doing her post-graduation. It was a time where I had to consciously decide which speciality to take. I even liked general medicine and ICUs, so it wasnt the obvious choice to get into the same area as my mother. But when I made the decision, I made it with my full heart and realised that it gave me a good blend of surgical and laboratory skills, both of which appeal to me.When she stepped into GG, she says nothing was handed to her on a platter. My mother and I have a boss-employee relationship, and thats exactly what helped me grow. I had to learn and unlearn everything that I had gone through, because there was a protocol. There were experiences from everyone, right from the staff level to the senior-most consultant. You had to leave your ego outside, you had to work with humility, you had to work with all cadres of people in the hospital.After she joined her parents hospital, Dr Priya spent the early years thinking about adding value to what they had already built. My mother, especially, had made a huge name for herself with several firsts to her credit. I went to the Jones Institute in USA to pursue a Masters Degree, which had produced Americas first test tube baby. I learnt about two specialisations, not yet performed in India. One was pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and the other was oocyte freezing, or egg freezing as we commonly know it. I started learning more and delving deeper into the subject.Right from December, 2005 until our first success in 2008, I worked on 300 oocytes, trying to perfect the technique. Everything was unknown, people were still figuring it out and success rates were low. We had two different techniques in the market. One was slow freezing and another called vitrification. Finally, I managed to get a hang of both methods, and this takes years. Nothing in medicine happens overnight. There is a lot of trial and error. You have failures before you meet any success. So, when that happened, my parents finally gave me the go-ahead to introduce these two specialities in the institution. We got our first babies through both methods slow freezing and vitrification -- for the first time in the country in 2008 and 2009. Then for genetic diagnosis, prior to even placing embryos in the womb, we had our first success in 2014. To make that happen, we had to be validated and trained for over a year to achieve this.She adds, The journey is always not easy. You have to keep learning and unlearning. You have to meet people who are already proficient. You have to take yourself to training programmes. You have to have a good patient-doctor relationship where they trust you and only then can you taste success.Dr Priyas interest in the field of oncology was sparked in the year 2009. When the worlds first fertility preservation conference was being held in Belgium, she received some correspondence that she felt would be worth investigating. To help people suffering from cancer to have their own biological child, and then continue with their treatment and eventually give birth, seemed to be lucrative, in the sense that it gives you a feeling of satisfaction. Although people globally had worked on many cases, it was the first time that I had been exposed to this particular specialty. Moreso, it was still gaining precedence in India. But I felt, this was it. I wanted something to give back to the community, in a field that was new at the time.She says that people always put fertility preservation on the backburner because life, longevity and quality of life are more important than having a child. In 2009, when she went for the conference, it was a whole new world where people were wondering if it would be possible or not. Dr Priya trained in both the laboratory and surgical aspects, learning how to harvest ovarian tissue, how to freeze it, how to reimplant it.It has taken me three to four training programmes, several conferences and almost a decade to now feel confident to offer this to the public in an honest way. Thats what my goal for 2023 is -- to work in fertility preservation for cancer patients and to create awareness amongst these couples. It involves team work oncosurgeons, medical oncologists, fertility consultants and counsellors. People are also becoming aware of their options, that their life can continue in another life, if they are given an opportunity. But it takes years to understand a concept, work on it and validate it. You cant just offer something that youve studied for two days.While many women in India study medicine, a large percentage soon drop out of the work force. But Dr Priya remains positive and upbeat about shifting trends, even while staying realistic. Being a woman is four-dimensional compared to being a man, because you are the procreator, the core of the family, and the integral factor around which your personal and professional life revolves. Not only that, we undergo physiological processes. We have menstrual cycles. We have to give birth and then tend to our children. But when women take up this profession, they come with the understanding that this is expected. The demands of working in a chauvinistic medical speciality might lead them to quit, and that largely depends on the work environment. But I feel women should believe in their self-worth and fight their way through tough situations, rather just taking a step back. You can stand anywhere and do better than a man if you put your mind to it.She cites her own field, which sees many women migrating towards it, attending conferences and training programmes with gusto. She also believes women can do wonders in areas like dermatology and psychiatry. The good thing about medicine these days is that youre able to super-specialise. You dont have to do it all. I also feel hospitals should have areas for women to take rest, provisions for lactating women and new mothers, and adequate maternity leave in line with revised guidelines.Dr Priya believes that ones mind is the bodys powerhouse and the devils workshop. If your thinking is good, the output is good. Follow some simple basics of life. What goes on your plate matters. Nutrition is important, so is physical exercise. Unearth your grandparents recipes. At least 45 minutes-1 hour should be reserved for physical and mental wellbeing each day. This is a great way to pave success and live life well. This realisation happened because my family was always on the move, but we had only homecooked food. We never were exposed to package foods or diet fads. Women should also learn to say no or disengage when they feel forced or pressured.Her message to Her Circle readers is simple. If you have a goal and youre going to work towards it, there will be challenges. I say, face the challenges, take support wherever needed, look at to women who inspire you, and keep going.