Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is a tool that can improve the implantation rate for patients undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Mediaplanet spoke with Dr. Marjorie Dixon, CEO and Medical Director of the Anova Fertility Clinic in Toronto, about how this genetic testing helps ensure the best pregnancy outcomes for people using assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).
Why are more people turning to ARTs to help start a family?
Dr. Marjorie Dixon: Primarily, there’s a societal paradigm shift in which women are having children later in life because they’re pursuing educational or career goals, travelling, or just waiting until they’re socially and financially stable. ARTs mean that women can have assistance with conceiving when family building has been delayed. A word of caution, though: we can only assist with what would happen naturally. That’s why it’s referred to as “assisted” reproductive technology.
How does genetic testing ensure the best possible outcome in this process?
The testing is a powerful tool for women employing IVF — especially those over age 35 — because the quality of a woman’s eggs diminishes with age, along with her ability to make healthy embryos. Genetic screening gives us a lot of information. It helps us identify the embryos that have the best chance of success and helps to prevent miscarriages. It also protects women from having unnecessary IVF transfers, thereby giving patients success in the shortest amount of time possible with the least amount of angst, difficulty, and frustration.
Pregnancy rates increase and miscarriage rates decrease with PGS (now referred to as PGT-A) across all ages.
How has genetic testing in ART changed the way you see fertility?
I now expect patients with healthy embryos to get pregnant on one IVF cycle and take home a healthy baby. And for patients with normal genetic embryos that don’t result in pregnancy, genetic testing used in combination with their IVF cycle helps us doctors make educated decisions about our therapeutic recommendations — which is a luxury we haven’t had before.
What kind of results have you seen with patients?
We’re seeing approximately 60% pregnancy rates with PGS. Furthermore, pregnancy rates increase and miscarriage rates decrease with PGS (now referred to as PGT-A) across all ages. Reproductive technology has come a long way. Canadians now have access to the global standards of treatment and care. Knowledge is power, so being educated about it enables patients to advocate for themselves and know where to go for their fertility care.