Why Do IVF Cycles Fail?

The in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey is often long for many couples trying to start or grow a family. When a cycle fails, there are often more questions than answers. However, failed IVF cycles are not uncommon, with several possible causes. There could be embryo implantation failure, where the embryo does not attach to the uterus. Other reasons include luteal phase defects, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and older patient age. An often-overlooked possibility is a genetic abnormality. With genetic testing using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), there may be a significant shift in IVF success.


Genetic testing makes a difference

Some embryos may have chromosomal abnormalities that prevent a viable pregnancy from taking place. This genetic issue can come from 1 or both future parents. Some potential parents may also have a heritable condition that can be passed down to the child. Genetic testing is a medical procedure that involves analyzing an individual’s genes to determine if any genetic disorders are present. Recently, genetic testing has found a home in improving IVF outcomes.

What is PGD?

During IVF, the PGD test is done before implanting the embryos, hence the name preimplantation genetic diagnosis. After retrieval and fertilization, 1-2 cells are taken from the developing embryo to test for conditions such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and sickle cell anemia. In addition, PGD can help identify specific abnormalities in the chromosomes. Even a single abnormality could potentially interfere with fertilization and lead to an unsuccessful pregnancy.

Choosing the best embryo

Fertility clinics strive to create multiple embryos during each IVF cycle in the event the initial cycle fails, or a sibling is desired later down the line. Testing each embryo before moving on to the final step can be vital. The fertility team can then choose the best embryo for implantation. There’s statistical evidence that shows genetic testing can help. Couples who try PGD increase the chances of success by as much as 56% compared to those who choose to forgo testing the embryos.

Increase success

Approximately 50% of IVF cycles in women under 35 fail to achieve a pregnancy, and such rates further increase with advanced maternal age. Such failures can be emotionally devastating to individuals or couples. Repeated attempts also place an emotional and financial toll on the patients. PGD paints a clearer picture for the couple, identifying the healthiest embryo to implant. In some cases, PGD can help identify a need for donor eggs or sperm due to an unavoidable genetic condition. When there is more clarity, there is less stress, increasing the chances of success.

A single test

In vitro fertilization is not always successful on the first attempt. For many couples, repeated cycles may be necessary, with increasing levels of success. Opting for PGD early on can help reduce the number of IVF cycles needed. While there is no guarantee of success, couples who undergo IVF with PGD can increase the likelihood of having a healthy baby. A single test can be a game-changer for patients with multiple failed cycles or individuals known to have a heritable genetic condition.

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