Not So Smooth Sailing

Infertility was once a definite, irreversible diagnosis. Thanks to the miracles of medicine and science, couples have benefited from in vitro fertilization (IVF) for decades. At the same time, IVF is no magic bullet. There are times when the process can fail. Repeatedly failed IVF cycles can be devastating, stressful, and even depressing. However, the cause could be a lack of information on the genetic health of the couple and viable embryos. Genetic testing using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) may tip the scales in favor of hopeful couples.

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What causes a failed IVF cycle?

Having the healthiest possible eggs and sperm is the best way to improve the chances of IVF success. However, some cases of failed IVF cycles are due to the age of the egg and egg quality. Women experience a diminished ovarian reserve with age, reducing quantity and quality. Another significant reason is chromosomal abnormalities, as both egg and sperm may not have 23 pairs of chromosomes. This anomaly can cause failed implantation or miscarriages.

How genetic testing can help

Genetic testing can help determine the underlying cause of failed cycles. These screening protocols happen before implantation to find any congenital disabilities within the embryo. An embryologist or fertility specialist takes a sample from the cells to send for testing. This sample does not harm the embryo in any way. The results can provide more insight into the genetic health of the embryo.

Why PGD matters

For some couples, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is crucial. This is a form of genetic testing those with a known abnormality. Both parties may have a congenital disease or a family member with the condition. Others may have a history of miscarriages due to genetically unhealthy sperm or eggs. This information can bring some relief to hopeful parents as some options are available.

Turning PGD into successful IVF

Genetic testing cannot make eggs, sperm, or embryos better. However, the test can help clinics and couples make better decisions. If there are genetically healthy embryos, these can be used instead, increasing the chances of success. And if all embryos have some chromosomal abnormalities, the couple can receive further counseling. All parties will discuss donor sperm, donor eggs, surrogacy, or adoption options.

Pass genetic testing with flying colors

A failed IVF cycle is not the end. Statistics show that IVF success rates are increasing, but there is a chance of failure in the first cycle. The chances of success also increase with each cycle. However, some women can still struggle after 3 or more cycles. At this point, genetic testing may help couples uncover the core of the issue. From there, the chances of success rise even further.

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