For many couples considering assisted reproductive techniques, the term ‘genetic testing’ can be quite confusing at first.
Do you go for Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) which was previously known as Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (CCS)? Or perhaps you have been asked to go for Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) which is simply another name for PGS.
Over the years there have been variations in these terminologies that have been the root cause of this confusion. Irrespective of the type of diagnostics, genetic testing is the singular umbrella that covers all of these tests. Any couple who are looking to conceive via assisted reproductive techniques should be offered genetic testing.
In this article we will specifically talk about embryo screening and if it is the right type of genetic testing for you.
What is Embryo Screening?
The process that tests embryos for any chromosomal problems is known as embryo screening. The procedure can be applied to the normal production of eggs and sperm during the development of the embryo. The presence of abnormal chromosomes for a normal pregnancy is fairly common too. It can result in a miscarriage or a failure of the fertilised egg to implant in the womb.
For those seeking assisted reproduction, preimplantation genetic screening is one of the many genetic screening tests that is commonly used specifically in the case of vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) cases.
Therefore, the objective of the embryo screening checks for any prevalent abnormalities prior to the implantation taking place. This helps to minimise the risk of miscarriage and multiply the chances of a successful pregnancy.
When Are Genetic Screening Techniques Used?
For women over the age of 37, embryo screening is a recommended procedure even if the pregnancy has been through natural conception. This is even more important for anyone with a history of multiple miscarriages or a family history of chromosome problems. Genetic conditions can be tested using various methods such as the chorionic villus sampling test and the amniocentesis test.
But what are the genetic screening techniques used during the course of assisted reproduction? Let’s find out.
Preimplantation Genetic Screening: The majority of fertility centres in Hyderabad require a preimplantation genetic screening (PGT). This typically happens post the retrieval of the egg has taken place. The next steps involve the combining of the ovocytes with the sperm enabling the process of fertilisation to take place.
Embryos cultured under laboratory conditions can sometimes take a number of days to fertilise. The preimplantation genetic screening is then carried out to select the most viable and healthiest eggs of the lot. The healthiest embryo is transferred to the uterus.
Data shows that preimplantation genetic screening has led to higher success rates. Not only does it narrow down the choice to the best embryos, but it also improves the chances of implantation, thus increasing the rate of resulting pregnancy to approximately 70%. Moreover, genetic screening helps shorten the waiting period between the time that the process is initiated until you are able to achieve pregnancy successfully. More often than not, that means a lesser number of IVF treatment cycles.
How Does Embryo Screening Work?
During an IVF process, there are two types of embryo screening that may be utilised. Preimplantation genetic test for aneuploidies (PGT-A) helps screen for any chromosomal abnormalities whereas preimplantation genetic tests (PGT) look for specific genetic conditions.
Studies today suggest that preimplantation genetic tests can help screen for nearly 400 genetic conditions. This includes Huntington’s disease, Down’s Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and early-onset Alzheimer’s and more.
Both of these genetic screenings are non-invasive in nature as they are carried out once the woman’s eggs have been harvested and then fertilised. There is also an added advantage to genetic screening. All good quality embryos that remain unused are then cryopreserved in case a need arises to use them in the future. This helps to eliminate the need for the patient to undergo a new IVF stimulation cycle in case of subsequent treatment.
Is Embryo Screening Right for You?
While it is important to know about embryo screening, is the test recommended for you?
Genetic screening techniques are designed to detect serious conditions that may be hereditary in nature and can be passed on to any children through either the male or the female partner. Getting an embryo screening done will help to avoid such a situation as the test ensures that only the healthiest and viable eggs are implanted in the womb.
Healthcare specialists may also recommend embryo screening for women who have had a history of failed IVF cycles or even multiple miscarriages. The testing helps check the embryos for any problems that may potentially cause another IVF cycle to fail.
Preimplantation genetic screening is frequently prescribed where fertility specialists suspect abnormalities in spermatozoa meiosis. Women who are prone to reproductive genetic problems may also be required to take the PGS test. However, women who are over the age of 40 and intend to use their own eggs as opposed to donor eggs may be required to undergo a PGD screening instead.
What Can You Do Next?
Fertility treatment is a major life decision for you and your partner. If you are considering IVF, then it is natural for you to think about embryo screening and if it is the right course for you to take. It is always recommended that you gather as much information as you can.
Having said that, if you have any specific questions about PGS or PGD or any doubts about embryo screening, feel free to book a consultation with Dr Vyjayanthi, an experienced fertility specialist in Hyderabad.
Having performed over 10,000 IVF cycles, Dr Vyjayanthi and her team of experienced fertility specialists at MotherToBe have the necessary training and expertise to carry our frozen embryo transfers that will ensure that the success rate of your IVF cycle is optimised to the maximum.
Let MotherToBe be a part of your pregnancy experience that is filled with hope and happiness and with you becoming loving parents to your bundle of joy.
Read more: WHAT’S THE BEST AGE TO GET PREGNANT?