Many Carnegie Imaging patients choose IVF to assist with infertility. This process often goes hand-in-hand with genetic counseling to better understand risks of passing genetic conditions to children or interpret genetic testing results of embryos.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a series of procedures intended to assist with the conceiving a child for patients who are dealing with fertility problems or who have a higher risk of passing genetic problems to their children. IVF involves collecting mature eggs from the ovaries and fertilizing them in a lab. The embryo or embryos can then be transferred to the uterus. An important advantage of IVF is that the procedure allows access to genetic information before the embryo is implanted to the mother’s uterus.
This treatment is increasingly used to overcome problems with pregnancy loss. In cases of recurrent pregnancy loss, the combination of IVF procedures and pre-implantation genetic testing to confirm a normal genetic complement in the embryo, can lead to improved pregnancy outcomes.
IVF is considered the most effective form of assistive reproductive technology. The procedure may use the couple’s own eggs and sperm or donor eggs and/or sperm, and the transfer can be made to a gestational carrier if necessary.
Why is IVF Necessary?
IVF is performed if a couple has infertility issues or faces a high risk for genetic problems. Often, patients with fertility issues may try less invasive fertility treatments such as taking fertility drugs or intrauterine insemination (IUI) before attempting IVF. In other cases, the treatment may be recommended as the primary treatment option.
Some common reasons why patients may undergo IVF include:
- Advanced maternal age (over 40)
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage
- Impaired sperm production or function
- Genetic disorder prevention
- Recurrent pregnancy loss
- Uterine fibroids
- Fertility preservation for medical treatments such as chemotherapy
The IVF Procedure
Prior to an IVF cycle, there are some steps that must be completed to prepare. These include ovarian reserve testing through a blood test and ultrasound, semen analysis, infectious disease screening, and a mock embryo transfer or uterine exam. Finally, you and your doctor will discuss details such as the number of embryos that will be transferred, what to do with extra embryos, handling a potential multiple pregnancy, considerations for donor eggs, sperm, embryos, or gestational carriers, and genetic counseling.
IVF cycles then begin with synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This typically includes several medications, which your doctor can explain. Following this process, which usually takes about two weeks, an egg retrieval can take place. This procedure is completed under sedation using a technique known as transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. An ultrasound will be inserted into the vagina to identify follicles, followed by inserting a thin needle through the vagina and into the follicles to retrieve eggs. Following egg retrieval, sperm retrieval is completed, and fertilization will be performed in a lab. It is at this point when the embryo is dividing, a few individual cells from the developing embryo can be safely removed, and the embryo is then frozen for use later or implanted into the mother’s uterus after a few days. The embryo is frozen if the if the genetic testing takes a number of weeks complete.
With this method, only healthy embryos can then be transferred to the uterus. The transfer can typically take place 6-10 days after the egg retrieval. This involves inserting a catheter into the vagina to the uterus. This catheter will be attached to a syringe containing the embryo(s), which will then be placed directly into the uterus. A blood test about two weeks after the transfer will determine whether the procedure was successful.
Genetic Counseling for IVF
Genetic counseling is often recommended for patients who are undergoing IVF treatment. This counseling reviews the various conditions the genetic tests, their accuracy, and the time frame for receiving the results. Embryos with the wrong number of chromosomes and many other conditions will have a higher risk of miscarriage. During an appointment, a genetic counselor can help you interpret the results of preimplantation testing and determine the best plan for a healthy pregnancy.
Schedule a Consultation
To learn more about the IVF process and genetic counseling services, schedule an appointment at Carnegie Imaging. Call our Carnegie South office at (212) 235-1506 or our Carnegie Hill office at (212) 257-9654. You may also contact us online.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!