How does PGD add to the process of IVF
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis or PGD is a process that is carried out parallel to performing an in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The primary aim of the PGD process is to help recognize any genetic defects that may be present in the embryos created through IVF, in order to prevent the hereditary passage of certain diseases or disorders that one or both of the parents may be carrying.
PGD begins with the normal process of IVF which includes the retrieval of eggs from the female partner and their subsequent fertilization, using retrieved sperm, in a laboratory. The following steps are performed in order to successfully carry out the PGD process.
- A couple of cells are first removed from the developed embryo, prior to implantation.
- The cells are then assessed to see if there is a presence of a problematic gene that might be inherited by the offspring.
- Once the PGD procedure is complete, and those embryos without any genetic problems have been identified, the process of implantation will take place. Implantation would involve placing a defect-free embryo back in the uterus.
- Those embryos that were identified as having genetic problems will be disposed of. While the rest of the embryos that were free of genetic problems may be frozen for future use.
To get a complete understanding of the PGD procedure, it is imperative that we have a balanced view of its advantages, as well as some of the concerns that it raises. The advantages of performing a PGD procedure are, firstly, that aPGD can allow for the testing of over a 100 genetic conditions. Secondly, couples have the opportunity to decide if they want to continue with a pregnancy, since PGD is performed prior to the implantation process. And thirdly, since PGD is a complementary procedure to IVF it gives infertile couples the opportunity to conceive biological children. Despite the listed advantages however, there are some concerns that have been raised with regards to the efficacy and ethics of PGD. Although PGD reduces the probability of conceiving a child with a genetic disorder, it doesn’t completely eliminate it. Although genetically present, some diseases only generate symptoms when their carriers reach middle age. This increases the probability of disorder development in later life.
The PGD process as a whole is utilized by fertility doctors to help parents gain as much knowledge as possible about the child that they are in the process of conceiving. The early detection of a lifelong genetic disorder can save the parents a lot of emotional and financial toil in the future. Although there are ethical debates about the destruction of an embryo, in purely medical terms the PGD procedure is a step forward in the use of alternative reproductive technology. It should be noted however, that not all fertility centers carry out this procedure. However some centers, such as Aster IVF and Women Clinic, use next generation sequencing (NGS) technology for PGD. NGS is far superior to real-time PCR techniques that are the current standard. Consult your fertility expert to know how the process of PGD can be incorporated into your IVF procedure.