Genetic Testing Before IVF

Every advantage counts for women or couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is especially true for women who have suffered multiple miscarriages or have had failed IVF cycles. For these situations, a doctor may recommend genetic testing. Genetic testing provides vital information before embryo transfer. These tests include preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening.

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Getting to know your genes

A child inherits the genes of both parents. These genes produce the characteristics that parents look forward to, like hair color and eye color. Children also inherit genetic abnormalities, even if these do not show in parents. These abnormalities are sometimes the reason for miscarriages and congenital anomalies like Down’s syndrome. Genetic testing identifies hundreds of these possible scenarios using a cell sample from the embryos during IVF. The data proves vital for increasing the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

What is PGD?

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) helps couples who already have a known medical condition. For instance, the mother may have sickle cell anemia or a history of miscarriages. The father may have a sibling with Down’s syndrome. PGD looks closely at the embryos developed during IVF for these specific abnormalities. The test takes additional time but can help find the best embryos for implantation.

Screen those genes with PGS

Some hopeful parents are unaware of any genetic abnormalities in the family. These parents want some reassurance. In other cases, a fertility clinic cannot explain why IVF cycles are failing. Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can help. PGS checks the number of chromosomes present in each embryo. If there are more or less than the expected 46 chromosomes, there is a high chance of a failed pregnancy. There can also be severe health consequences for the child. Like PGD, PGS helps fertility clinics counsel couples on the right course of action.

How valuable are these tests?

PGD and PGS are similar in process and outcome. The biggest difference is that PGD looks for specific conditions. Studies show that PGD can increase the success rates of pregnancy. On the other hand, PGS gives general data on the genetic health of the embryos. The value comes in explaining miscarriages, failed IVF cycles, or reasons for infertility in couples over age 38. PGS also has the added benefit of gender selection if the parents desire. Both tests can save time and money, and give hopeful parents peace of mind.

Consider genetic testing

Typically, fertility specialists recommend preimplantation genetic testing if a known concern could affect the child. PGD can identify abnormalities for conditions the parents currently have or are at risk of having. PGS can still provide vital data before an embryo transfer if there are no known congenital conditions. While there are no guarantees, these tests improve the chances of pregnancy by transferring the healthiest embryos available.

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