There is an almost tangible passion that emanates from Ballito’s new gynaecologist, obstetrician and aesthetic gynaecology specialist Dr Marise Subrayan. She’s young, enthusiastic and determined to ‘shake things up’ with her open-mindedness, energy and expertise.
You can’t help but feel immediately at ease when you first meet 34-year-old Marise. Dressed in sneakers and a blazer, her warm smile, bubbly nature and great sense of humour ‘break the ice’ from the moment you sit down, and it’s easy to see how her patients are able to open up to and trust her from the get-go.
Although she is young and new to the North Coast (having opened her practice, Aurora Obs and Gynae, in Ballito in December last year), Dr Marise is far from new to her field of expertise. She has been practising gynaecology and obstetrics for nine years and has a special interest in aesthetic gynaecology.
She is also trained to treat transgender patients and those who are part of the LGBTQ community. Her extensive experience in both public and private facilities means she has worked with patients from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Although she was born in Durban, Marise spent more than 17 years in Gauteng. She left a buzzing practice in the trendy Melrose Arch medical centre in Johannesburg to enjoy a calmer, closer-to-nature lifestyle here on the North Coast. But it’s clear that she’s brought her energy and enthusiasm with her. “I still work (and drive!) like a Gautenger,” she laughs,
but I’m so excited to bring new ideas to this growing area and open up what I think are important conversations.
Marise is passionate about women’s health and facing issues around aesthetic gynaecology and sexual dysfunction which, she says, are often not spoken about even in gynaecologist’s rooms.
“I just believe that if we are going to talk about something as intimate as childbirth, then why shouldn’t we be able to discuss issues around sex? We can’t pick and choose which aspects of gynaecology we want to deal with, and I believe that this is an important one. We are in this journey together.”
After qualifying at Wits University in 2010, Marise completed her internship in Krugersdorp before doing a year of community service at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. “I fell in love with gynaecology there and knew for sure this was what I wanted to do,” she says. “I think you have to be quite clever to be a gynae. It’s the only field where you have two patients at the same time – the mother and the baby.”
It was while she was working at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital a few years later that Marise came across something which had a massive effect on her: female genital mutilation. “It absolutely horrified me. I saw some really bad cases. It was even being done on babies. I decided to do my Master’s research on finding out if South Africa has enough knowledge and understanding around these practices.”
Marise was invited to present her research on female genital mutilation to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in London in 2019 and is currently waiting for her work to be published.
“I have worked in obstetrics and gynaecology in so many different places, at every level. What I believe we are lacking most in this country is education from an early age. I would really like to change that by talking at schools about topics like sexual consent, contraception and the very real issue of period poverty.”
While she always thought she would end up as a trauma or plastic surgeon, Marise has found the best of both worlds by specialising in aesthetic gynaecology. “I still get the adrenalin rush from emergency cases and I can enjoy the plastic surgery side with aesthetic gynaecology.”
Aesthetic gynaecology, she explains, is a new sub-speciality of gynaecology. It can be performed by either a gynae or a plastic surgeon and deals with genital anatomy through both surgical and non-surgical interventions. It can be done for cosmetic or medical reasons (or both) and includes things like vaginal laser for tightening (also used for urine incontinence) and the removal of warts and moles, among other things.
Like many people, it was during Covid that Marise stopped to ‘take stock’ of her life and her priorities. “I realised that doctors often put enjoying their lives on hold until retirement. I’m trying to find a more balanced and sustainable way of living.”
She and her boyfriend Chris have settled in Simbithi and, while she still works very hard, Marise makes time to walk on the beach, go for a trail run or hit a few golf balls every day.
“I moved here for my mental and physical health, but also because I wanted to be a part of change in an area that is growing. I am excited to see the change I can make here … and I’m learning to deal with my very frizzy coastal hair!”
Text: Leah Shone
Photographs: Chris Allan Photo, 083 441 3144, www.chrisallanphoto.co.za
Hair and makeup: Gina Rodrigues, 073 2332136, [email protected], ginarodrigues.co.za, @ginarodriguesmua
Shoot location: Manor House Venue, Sheffield, @manorhouse_venue, manorhousevenue.co.za