03 Dec Preimplantation Genetic Testing: Is it Worth it?
Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) is a relatively new offering in the world of IVF. It allows embryologists to test embryos for chromosomal and/or genetic abnormalities that might prevent successful implantation and/or a healthy, live birth.
Because it is an adjunct treatment option for individuals or couples pursuing IVF, there are additional costs, which can lead patients to wonder if PGT is worth it.
While the most recent studies aren’t showing conclusive evidence that PGT improves live birth rates, there are still benefits from having embryos tested ahead of time.
PGT Minimizes Miscarriages
When researchers study cumulative IVF results from around the world, women who use PGT before embryo transfer have fewer miscarriages than those who don’t. That is a major benefit because – as any woman or couple undergoing fertility treatment knows – weathering the storm of failed IVF cycles is challenging, but enduring the storm of a successful transfer that turns miscarriage adds another layer of trauma and heartbreak to the mix.
Note: We encourage every patient to seek infertility support from others, including professionals, when going through fertility treatments. Speaking with others who understand what you’re going through is an invaluable resource.
Live Birth Rates Achieved with Fewer IVF Cycles
Another benefit of PGT is that the women who used PGT and achieved full-term, live birth outcomes did so with fewer IVF cycles.
That’s another notable benefit of PGT. It’s no mystery that IVF cycles are expensive. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who have fertility treatment benefits, repeat cycles mean repeat financing – and money isn’t the most important factor. Experiencing IVF cycle failures is emotionally (and spiritually) taxing for women and their partners.
The extra cost of PGT (typically between $1500 – $3500, depending on the number of embryos tested) can seem expensive in terms of a first-time cost but can mean the savings of tens of thousands of dollars if it prevents the need for repeat rounds of IVF.
It May Lead You to More Successful Fertility Treatment Options
In some cases, PGT is the way we learn that all (or the large majority) of the embryos have some type of inherited chromosomal or genetic abnormality. Learning this earlier on in the game allows couples to regroup and plan for other options.
For example, if PGT determines the large majority of your embryos aren’t viable, you may decide to create more embryos using donor eggs and/or donor sperm. Or, you might decide to work with embryo adoption agencies, all of which can lead to faster, more successful IVF results.
The Benefits of Family Balancing
If this isn’t your first time to pursue IVF, but you’re pretty sure it’s your last, family balancing is a side benefit of PGT. When we test for chromosomal health, we inevitably learn the sex of each embryo. This gives couples the ability to choose the sex of the embryos transferred during IVF. While this practice has been controversial, when used responsibly, we feel it’s perfectly natural and reasonable to have a say in the sex of your final child conceived via IVF, especially for couples who already have multiple boys or – multiple girls – already.
Read our post, Family Balancing and Gender Selection, for more information on that topic.
PGT Technology Continues to Improve
As with all things related to the pioneering and research innovation that defines the field of assisted reproductive technology, processes used to test and analyze chromosomes and genes continue to improve.
As sciencedaily.com writes, “The early forms of testing — when the procedure was known as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) — were limited by the small number of chromosomes in the analysis. This problem was later resolved by technologies that allowed “comprehensive chromosome screening,” and thus the detection of abnormality in any of the full complement of 23 chromosomes.”
Advancements and improvements in testing methods will lead to continued accuracy of the results. We feel confident that PGT will lead to improved IVF success and higher numbers of live birth rates as these technologies are more widely used.