A Comprehensive Look at PGS/PGD/PGT Screening of Embryos & Why It’s Important
After you find a surrogate through our California surrogate agency, one of the questions that will come up is whether or not you want to undergo pregenetic implantation screening.
PGS, PGD, and PGT are all screening methods that fertility clinics use to give the genetic health of an embryo. There are many benefits to having the screening performed.
This article will dig into pregenetic implantation screening and why you might want to have it performed before pregnancy.
Preimplantation genetic screening, or PGS, involves the genetic study of an embryo after IVF has taken place. Now called PGT-A, the test essentially searches for aneuploidies. These are chromosomes that have an abnormal number or any other chromosomal abnormalities.
The process is relatively simple. You’ll be given the same kind of fertility treatments from the fertility clinic that you would normally. These are aimed to help bolster your fertility for the retrieval of your eggs.
Once you have been properly boosted by the fertility clinic, your eggs are retrieved along with the desired sperm cells from your spouse. They’re taken into a lab where they are placed in a petri dish. The cells can easily find one another and fertilize.
The resulting embryo then undergoes a biopsy. This doesn’t occur until five or six days after the embryo’s inception. Only a few cells are taken from the embryo. A healthy cell will contain 23 chromosomes pairs. That’s 46 chromosomes in total.
PGS then goes through the chromosomes to look for a number greater or lesser than 23 pairs. It even takes a look at the sex chromosomes to ensure they’re normal. While the biopsy takes place in another part of the lab—or an entirely different lab—the embryo will remain in the fertility clinic that you have chosen.
After the result have been compiled, they’ll be given to your fertility doctor. They can then examine the results and determine whether or not the embryo is safe to be used.
Why You Should Consider PGS Testing
If this kind of test seems interesting to you, then you might want to consider PGS testing of your embryos before it’s placed inside of the surrogate mother. There are a few benefits of having PGS testing done. One of those is that it can inform you from the start whether or not the embryo will develop into a healthy child.
While pregnancy can sometimes alter the health of an embryo, usually, the chromosomes, themselves, will determine how well the baby grows and develops. By catching abnormalities early, you can save a lot of time and money. For example, if you didn’t do the test and went on with the pregnancy, the surrogate mother might experience a difficult pregnancy because of an abnormality within the embryo. It might cause her to have a miscarriage.
This means that you’re both back to square one with fertility treatments. Because everything is synced to her cycle, you may have to wait a month or two before she’s ready to accept another embryo. If the same problem occurs again, then you’ll have even longer to wait.
By screening the chromosomes, you can see from the start whether or not an embryo has a good chance of surviving. When it checks clear, then it can be placed inside of the surrogate mother who can carry it with far more ease and peace of mind.
PGS essentially allows you to have a greater chance of a successful pregnancy with your surrogate mother.
Another test that you might want to consider having when you take part in surrogacy in California is PGD or preimplantation genetic diagnosis. This test works similarly to PGS except it is focused on genetic diseases or conditions that are known to exist within the family’s genetics.
Intended parents who are struggling with infertility may be aware that they have a genetic disease or condition that runs in their family. Because they want to be excellent parents and spare their children from inheriting that disease or condition, they may opt to have PGD performed.
There are a few steps involved in PGD, but the overall goal of it is to determine whether or not an embryo has inherited the genetic abnormalities that result in a disorder or condition. The process is rather straight forward.
First, a probe has to be made that will be used to help determine if the embryo has inherited the genetic disease. In order to make that probe, several genetic tests are required. Both parents need to give their DNA for genetic testing. Their eggs and sperm will also need to be tested. For a more accurate analysis, the fertility clinic may also want genetic tests taken from grandparents and any natural-born children that the intended parents already have.
Starting the In-Vitro Fertilization Process
The process alone of making a probe can take several weeks.
After it has been created, the in-vitro fertilization part of the process can begin. You’ll be given treatments to help bolster the production of your eggs. You’ll need a large number of eggs since the more eggs that you have to be fertilized, the easier it will be to find an embryo that didn’t carry the genetic mutation.
After your body has developed enough eggs, the doctor will retrieve a large sample of those eggs. They’ll do the same with sperm cells. Those cells will then be placed inside of a petri dish where they can fertilize one another. Another method that might be used is ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This is a process in which the sperm cell is injected directly into the egg cell by a clinician. This method works well for sperm cells that have low to no mobility.
Once fertilization is complete, the embryo will be allowed to develop for five to six days. After that point, it reaches the blastocyst stage. This stage means it has around 100-150 cells. The biopsy can then take place. The clinic will remove anywhere from 2 to 10 cells for testing.
At the lab, the probe from earlier will be used to test the embryo. The probe will be able to determine whether or not the genetic mutation was inherited by the embryo. PGS can also be performed at this stage to test for other chromosomal abnormalities.
With the probe complete, the results are sent back to the clinic. The fertility doctor will go over them and determine whether or not the genetic mutation was carried. If it was, then the next set of cells will be used to create a new embryo and then tested again. If the test came back clear, then the decision can be made to insert the embryo into the surrogate for the surrogacy to begin.
Why You Should Consider PGD
Clearly, the process of PGD can be quite long. Is it worth considering?
For intended parents who want to make sure that their baby receives the best possible chance of having a healthy life, it is 100% worth it. The last thing any parent wants is to pass on a genetic mutation that can negatively impact their child’s life.
When combined with PGS, the two tests can give parents the best possible outcome with surrogacy in California. Some genetic mutations can cause surrogates to miscarry, so it’s worth it to save time as well.
It’s also possible to have PGD performed during the pregnancy.
This can help further ensure that the genes are healthy, and the baby is developing in the correct way.
While PGS and PGD can be great for your surrogacy, it does come with its risks.
Because PGD, in particular, requires a rapid growth of egg cells, it can result in hyperstimulation syndrome. This basically results in an overproduction of eggs that can lead to multiple pregnancies and birth defects that the test doesn’t screen for.
There is also some risk of the biopsy harming the embryo when the cells are gathered.
If the clinician isn’t careful, for example, they can damage the nearby cells when removing their samples. That damage could be just enough to severely impair the embryo as a whole. Freezing the embryo can sometimes damage it as well if it is not done by a professional clinician. During the freezing process, ice crystals can form. These ice crystals can then injure the embryo when it is thawed.
Sometimes the test might give a false negative. This means that the embryo actually did carry an abnormality or a genetic mutation but the test didn’t find it. After it is inserted into the surrogate, they might miscarry. The baby might also be born with a genetic defect. That’s why testing during pregnancy can also a good idea.
The opposite side of that, false positives, could end up with the removal of embryos that are actually healthy. This could tack on time to the process of surrogacy unnecessarily.
One fear that some parents may have is that the test may find that they don’t possess any healthy embryos for transfer. In this instance, a sperm donor or an egg donor from outside may be needed to help add in healthy genetics. Or the parents might want to consider alternative methods for ensuring the resulting genetic makeup of the embryo is healthy. This is a common occurrence for those struggling with infertility, to begin with, or with couples who were older in age.
Finally, another risk is that the tests do not always screen for every genetic mutation or disease. There are thousands upon thousands of genetic mutations that can result in a birth defect or disease. While PDG is a great way to test for a specific genetic disease that is known to be carried by the family, it can’t screen for every genetic disease there is.
That means that a healthy baby from a tested embryo isn’t always guaranteed.
If you’re someone struggling with infertility, then you may wonder if PGS and PGD are worth it, especially if you’re using surrogacy. The answer is yes. Because you use IVF, which requires an egg donor and a sperm donor, having the tests done just makes sense.
After you find a surrogate and go through in-vitro fertilization, you may find that in-vitro fertilization isn’t working. The surrogate continues to miscarry the baby. PGS and PGD can help limit that from happening. It can result in in-vitro fertilization failure from being less frequent.
Women who struggle with infertility can find a surrogate to help carry their babies. PGS and PGD testing their genetic makeup just help ensure that their baby will be as healthy as possible.
Infertility doesn’t have to define you. Find a surrogate and start with us today.