Genetic testing for embryos is a controversial issue but one thing is for certain, when women use this screening process – especially older women and those who have had repeat miscarriages – are less apt to miscarry implanted embryos and data from recent studies show that certain methods for genetic screening show significantly higher IVF success rates.

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Deciding if Genetic Testing is Right For You? Here Are 7 Things to Consider

It’s widely known that genetic abnormalities are a leading cause of failed implantations and miscarriages. The process of screening the embryos beforehand allows doctors to select the most genetically viable options for an assisted reproductive technology that is never a guarantee.

Here are 7 things you will want to consider before you proceed with genetic testing before your IVF procedure.

  1. Understanding the difference between PGS and PGD. Not all genetic testing on embryos is considered equal. Currently, there are two different types: Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).
    –PGS. This type is the most commonly used and it solely screens for chromosomal abnormalities – i.e. how many chromosomes are there? Normally, a baby has 23 pairs of chromosomes. If this number is different, the embryo is chromosomally abnormal and would not be selected for implantation. This process does not identify specific indicators for diseases.
    –PGD. This type of genetic screening looks for specific genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, some types of cancer, or other hereditary medical conditions. These are rarely a guarantee that the baby will develop the disease but can simply indicate that the gene is present.
  2. Its history. PGS and PGD have existed since the 1990s but the processes and techniques have evolved considerably since then. They are still relatively new procedures but the success rates continue to improve the more we learn. In most cases, the genetic screening will be done using a single cell (or cells) from 3- to 5-day old embryos, depending on the procedure being used. Your doctor can discuss the various procedures and how timing can affect testing results and implantation with you further.
  3. Odds are, your embryo is chromosomally abnormal. Thus far, the tests done on embryos used for IVF purposes are considered chromosomally abnormal 50% to 70% of the time. This is worth noting. If you aren’t interested in a multiple birth, you will want a single embryo implanted. However, if it isn’t tested for chromosomal abnormalities first, you are definitely playing against the odds.
  4. Genetic testing doesn’t harm the embryo. If you are working with a reputable IVF clinic, the processes used for PGD and PGS tests will not harm the embryo. To date, there have not been any increased rates of pregnancy complications or genetic abnormalities in embryos that have been tested prior to implantation.
  5. 5.     Who should consider genetic testing for embryos? The guidelines for who these genetic tests should be offered to are still under consideration. Typically, the most interested parties include:
    –Women 38 years or older who are using IVF to get pregnant.
    –Any women who have experienced repeat IVF failures to help determine why the embryos aren’t implanting and/or why the women are miscarrying.
    –Women who have experienced recurrent miscarriages, typically three or more in a row.
    –Couples who suspect or know they carry genes for serious medical conditions and would like to screen for healthy embryos ahead of time.
  6. 6.     Electing to have your embryos screened does not make you a eugenicist. As we mentioned in the intro, eugenics is a hot topic of debate. If you share your decision to screen your embryos with others, be prepared for potential backlash. That being said, electing to have your embryos screened to improve your chances of IVF success does not make you a eugenicist; it makes you a concerned parent who is trying to do everything she/he can to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  7. 7.     Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) does not replace traditional prenatal testing. The results you receive from preimplantation diagnosis (PGD) are only diagnostic indicators. Your pregnancy will still be monitored according to your doctor’s current standard of care. Routine prenatal genetic screening such as an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling will still be offered and/or recommended depending on your history.

Have you elected to have embryonic genetic screening prior to your IVF cycles? Please share your story in the RRC comment box below for others to learn from.

Image Courtesy of Dream Designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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If you have been following the world of infertility – or advancements in fertility technology and innovation – then you’re well aware that things are changing at a rapid pace. A simple look at the CDC’s IVF success rates over the past decades shows positive advancements are made all the time.

Interested in Keeping Up to Date on IVF and Fertility? Here are Top 10 Twitter Feeds Just For You

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It seems fitting that one of the fastest paced social media platforms – Twitter – is host to some of the top experts and interesting personalities in the world of infertility and/or fertility treatments. To save you time, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 10 “Must Follow” Twitter feeds.

  1. @RRC. Why save the best for last? Seriously, though – RRC is a leading IVF clinic in the nation and we focus on Tweeting the latest and greatest fertility treatments so check us out, share our feed and please participate in the conversation!
  2. @RESOLVEORG. Resolve is the Twitter account for the National Infertility Association. They are a wonderful source of information for individuals who want to learn more about infertility as well as a hub for those looking for support groups and/or certified fertility clinics in your area.
  3. @FertilityChat. Sometimes, the world of fertility treatments means reading about clinical treatments and processes provided in clinical settings no matter how warm and fuzzy we try to be. Fertility treatments are a science, after all. Fertility Chat is the Twitter feed from Drew Nesbitt, an acupuncture and TCM practitioner in Toronto. It’s nice to read his natural take on things. Plus, studies have shown a correlation between certain acupuncture techniques and improved IVF success rates.
  4. @PCOSA. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is one of the leading causes of infertility – and one of the least understood and underdiagnosed of the medical conditions that cause infertility. The PCOSA is a great source of information about PCOS as well as its symptoms, treatments and up-to-date research findings.
  5. @PCOSDiet. Piggybacking on that Twitter feed is PCOSDiet, the Twitter feed authored by Hilary Wright, a registered and licensed dietician. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS – or suspect you have it – you’ll enjoy her book, The PCOS Diet Plan, from which her Tweets were born. We enjoy her no-nonsense approach to what can often seem like a very mysterious condition.
  6. @Endometriosis. Here’s another common cause of infertility in women and Endometriosis.org id a global forum. While not all of their tweets are directly related to infertility, those who have endometriosis will certainly appreciate their tweets.
  7. @BrokenBrownEgg. Perhaps one of the least recognized aspects of infertility is that different cultures view, treat and process the reality of infertility differently. @BrokenBrownEgg is the Twitter feed for The Broken Brown Egg Blog, written by Regina Tiye, an African-American woman who blogs and tweets to shine the light on infertility and treatments for people of color.
  8. @FertilityPlanIt. This Twitter feed brings together a broad range of fertility-related information for just about anyone planning to grow their family. Their focus leans towards the more proactive things you can do to facilitate fertility and their motto is, “Get healthy. Get pregnant. Plan for the family you want.”
  9. @PomegranateGurl. Here is what we love most about @PomegranateGurl; it’s a tweet written by a true survivor! Every once in a while, IVF and other reproductive technologies simply don’t work. Typically, these active bloggers drop off the map and stop writing. The same thing happens for women who become mothers via IVF or other fertility treatments; their blogs shift away from the topic of infertility and morph into child scrapbook and mothering blogs. Julie, aka PomegranateGurl, spent 12 years undergoing fertility treatments and lost eight babies. Now, her mission is to bring attention to the plight of infertile women and support them any way she can. She’s a true hero in our book.
  10. @FertilityPoddy. Tired of reading? Whew! Those of us who pine for the newest information regarding fertility treatments have to do a lot of it. Instead, check out tweets from The Fertility Podcast to listen to real life stories of love, loss, inspiration and hope – from people just like you.

Follow a few favorite Fertility-related Twitter feeds of your own? Please share them with our RRC followers in the comment box below.

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