During invitro fertilization (IVF), many couples opt to undergo genetic testing. If you or your partner has been diagnosed with a genetic disorder, have a family history of genetic conditions, or simply want the peace of mind that comes with utilizing specialty testing, preimplantation genetic tests like preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can be invaluable.
Preimplantation genetic testing is a series of techniques used by healthcare professionals to identify certain genetic defects in embryos that are created through IVF before pregnancy occurs. With the help of genetic testing, only unaffected embryos can be safely transferred to the uterus for implantation.
In addition, preimplantation genetic testing offers couples an alternative to various post-conception diagnostic procedures, such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. When tests are performed after pregnancy has occurred, couples are forced to make the difficult decision of terminating the pregnancy if the results are unfavorable. Currently, PGS and PGD are the only preimplantation genetic tests that can help detect certain genetic diseases in embryos before implantation occurs.
Why Are Embryos Tested?
Under a laboratory microscope, an embryo may present as ‘normal.’ However, even embryos that proceed to the blastocyst stage (about 5 to 6 days after fertilization) may not have the proper number of chromosomes.
Implantation genetic testing of embryos can be useful if you are a woman over age 35, have suffered recurrent miscarriages, have a family history of chromosomal disorders, or if you have experienced unsuccessful cycles of IVF.
Is Genetic Testing Safe?
Preimplantation genetic testing is considered safe for couples and their embryos. There is a common concern that performing genetic testing will reduce a couple’s chances of pregnancy or negatively impact the health of the embryo. However, as the procedure is performed early in the developmental process, genetic tests are not considered harmful.