If you are considering IVF or have already had unsuccessful IVF cycles, you may want to consider preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). This is a procedure used to screen the embryos before they are implanted in the uterus for any possible genetic diseases or disorders that could be passed onto the child.
Genetic screening is done by evaluating the cells extracted from the embryo. Embryos that have been confirmed as free of any disorder or disease will be the ones used for implantation.
Preimplantation genetic testing is not required or necessary for everyone. Depending on your age and other factors in your particular situation, you may find you have multiple reasons for pursuing it. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people usually have when they decide to take this route and see if any of them pertain to you.
Reasons and Benefits of PGT
You may want to consider PGT if one or more of the following descriptions describes you:
- You are a woman over 35. All women carry the risk of having a pregnancy involving chromosome abnormalities. As their age increases, so do their risks. The greatest risk at this age would be for aneuploidy (the abnormal amount of chromosomes in a cell) which can result in conditions such as down syndrome.
- You’ve experienced several miscarriages. There are many reasons why a miscarriage may have occurred, about 50% in the first trimester are the result of a chromosome abnormality.
- You have a history of pregnancy with chromosome abnormality. If you have a history, the risk of similar problems happening again are elevated.
- You have experiences failed IVF cycles. Some cases of IVF failure are a result of the transfer of embryos with chromosome abnormality. PGD can identify this and prevent it from continuing to happen again.
- You or your partner are already aware of the possibility or existence of a genetic disease or disorder. If you or your partner are already aware of having a genetic condition, you have the chance of passing it on in your pregnancy. If one of you has a family history of Huntington’s disease, carry a recessive genetic disease, or carry an x-linked genetic disease such as hemophilia or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy you should consider PGT. Depending on which you have, PGT may significantly lower the chances of passing it on.
You may be tentative about discovering if you have existing genetic conditions, so consider these benefits of PGT to help you decide if it’s worth it:
- It increases the chance of a healthy pregnancy. It is undeniable that the screening will reduce the risk of abnormalities being passed onto the child. If there is any concern in this regard, this is your best option for some relief.
- Reduces the likelihood of miscarriage. Many studies have shown that miscarriages occur due to abnormalities in the number of chromosomes in the embryo. PGD may reduce miscarriages by 50%.
- It allows for a single embryo transfer. As PGD identifies which embryos are healthy, it allows for a single successful embryo transfer to be made. This avoids the possibility of health complications due to twin or triplet pregnancies.
- Tests can be done for more than 100 different genetic conditions. PGD can be used to test for virtually any genetic condition where a specific gene is known to cause that condition.
- Clears away the doubt or discomfort of not knowing if you have a genetic condition. If you have any concern, PGD will provide you with the relief of knowing you are not putting your baby at risk.
- It helps make the decision of whether or not to pursue pregnancy. The more knowledge you have about your body, the more confident you can be about your decision to pursue IVF.
PGD can reduce the likelihood that you will pass on a genetic condition, but it is not guaranteed. You may still want to undergo prenatal testing. You can discuss this with your doctor and/or genetic counselor to determine whether or not it’s a necessary step for you.
If you don’t have a genetic counselor, you may want to look into getting one. Genetic counselors specialize in inherited disorders and family planning and can help you decide whether or not PGD is right for you.
Before you begin testing, they will want you to acquire as much knowledge about your family’s medical history as possible. This will help to prepare you for any possible risks you may have.
Genetic counseling is the actual process of determining what risk you have of passing on a condition to your baby. It is their job to investigate and interpret the patterns that exist in your family and analyze the risks of any possible recurrence.
Do not hesitate to express all of your questions and concerns. Your counselor is there to provide you with options and solutions directly correlating to the results that you receive and the hopes that you and your partner have for your future.