Advanced Fertility Care: IVF, Genetic Testing, and More
Posted on August 25th, 2023
Medical procedures and techniques used in advanced fertility care can assist individuals and couples to overcome fertility challenges and successfully conceive. Advanced fertility care treatment modalities include procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), genetic testing, and other assisted reproduction technology treatments.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most commonly used assisted reproductive technologies. An IVF cycle involves taking medication to induce ovulation. Once the eggs are fully mature, they are collected via egg retrieval and combined with sperm in a lab dish for fertilization. Once fertilization occurs and an embryo has developed, the fertility specialist transfers the embryo to the recipient’s uterus. For pregnancy to occur, the embryo must implant itself in the uterine wall.
IVF is used to treat various fertility issues including:
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Advanced maternal age
- Male infertility
- Other infertility issues
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)
The most common chromosomal abnormality, “aneuploidy,” involves too many or too few chromosomes in a cell. Studies show that aneuploidy in embryos is responsible for many early miscarriages and IVF failures. To circumvent this, fertility doctors rely on a procedure called preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), which involves removing a few cells from the embryo’s outermost layer and analyzing its genetic makeup to identify potential chromosomal abnormalities. PGT can help reduce the risk of miscarriage and IVF failure by ensuring that the embryo selected for transfer has the correct number of chromosomes.
Candidates for PGT screening include:
- Women over age 35 (due to a higher risk of abnormal embryo genetics associated with normal reproductive aging)
- Patients at risk of passing an inherited genetic disease to their offspring
- Patients with a history of recurrent miscarriages or failed IVF cycles
- Any person undergoing IVF
Fertility preservation is a form of reproductive care that allows men and women to extend their family-building timetable. The procedure involves a freezing technique called vitrification to preserve biological components, such as eggs, sperm, and embryos. In this way, eggs, sperm, and embryos can be stored for an extended period and used as part of a future IVF cycle.
Many people choose fertility preservation for personal reasons, but fertility preservation is also important for medical reasons. For example, patients who are about to undergo cancer treatment often engage in fertility preservation beforehand. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can have a significantly damaging impact on the reproductive system, and can potentially make it very difficult to conceive later on in life. However, by preserving fertility before undergoing treatment, cancer patients can keep their future family-building options open.
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
Fertilization by frozen embryo transfer (FET) is a method of assisted reproduction that involves freezing embryos after they have reached the blastocyst stage of embryonic development. These frozen embryos are then later thawed and transferred to the uterus to establish a pregnancy. FET is commonly used by individuals and couples who have multiple viable embryos and want to save them for a future IVF cycle. Another advantage of FET is that the embryos can be transferred to the uterus with little or no need to take hormone medication before the procedure.
Third-party reproduction is often used when an individual or couple cannot conceive or carry a child independently due to various reasons, such as infertility, medical conditions, same-sex partnerships, or being an aspiring single parent. Third-party reproduction includes the donation of genetic materials, specifically donor eggs, sperm, or embryos, as well as gestational surrogacy (i.e. when a person carries a pregnancy for another individual or couple).
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an advanced fertility treatment that’s used to treat male infertility. It involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg. ICSI is particularly useful after fertility testing detects sperm-related issues, such as little or no sperm in the semen. But the technique may be used even when infertility is not sperm-related. Sometimes the fertility specialist decides to try ICSI after IVF has repeatedly failed.
Consult with a Fertility Specialist in Houston
If you are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, it’s essential to consult with a qualified fertility specialist who can help you plan the best course of treatment designed specifically for your needs. When providing advanced fertility care, Aspire HFI thoroughly considers each individual's circumstances. Learn more about which advanced fertility care options are right for you by scheduling a consultation with one of our caring and experienced specialists.